Page 1 of 2

Step by step building your own kiteboard

Posted: Fri May 29, 2009 10:14 pm
by adseguy
Hey guys!

So, I had this idea that I wanted a light wind board for this summer and I wanted a little challenge to myself. I'm going to build one. I want this thread to be a history of my build with pics and lots of info for others.

So first, I have to decide on material: Wood, plastic, carbon fiber? Well plastic is hard to find in giant sheets like that and hard to shape and cut. Carbon Fiber is light and strong, but I don't have an oven or anything to wrap the shape around. Wood seems to be the best bet here. I've been reading a few sites and seems that an Oak or Pine and even plywood all from Home Depot would work. Rocker isn't necessary as I'm just using it as an extreme light wind board. It's the same reason for concavity too. Size wise I'm think something like 150x45 or even 55 range. From what I understand, again, width is way more important for planing then length is. Can I go too big?

I know a few of you have done a project like this before and even do this professionally *COUGH* west *COUGH*. Any input and links to sites would be awesome. Even if you are like me and just want to know how to do this throw up some ideas to be tossed around. I'd like this thread to be really open.

I'll always be updating this post with the newest pics and info


Lost with no board!

Posted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:28 pm
by stanwhy
I've never built a board myself but I wanted to try it out sometime. From what I understand. I think the best and easiest way would be to build a plywood copy of a spleene door. Something 155x50 cm. Completely flat rocker. I think, you can just cut from birch plywood from home depot, then coat with epoxy. Anybody have any better methods?


Posted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:36 pm
by stanwhy

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 8:30 am
by dckiteboards
some buddies and i built 15 boards ranging from 100 to 140's and they were designed after litewave's freestyle boards. I used 3 layer 1/4 inch luon and sandwhiched together with epoxy and put in the mold overnight and then shaped and recoated with epoxy again to create a watertight seal and then wet sanded.

lasted about a year on a board that I ripped in the DR. I used it everyday though to test its durability. any lit kiteloops though landing hot and there was a slight chance it would snap under the feet.

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 8:45 am
by snowball
Im building a skim/mini kite surfboard w sharper rails and a concave like my LF board soo fins wont be needed out of foam and fiberglassing it. Im going to start once it gets a little warmer out (i dont want to do it inside the house)
Im going to do it how this guy did
He has a pretty good youtube tutorial that goes through almost everystep

he makes the blank from home depot foam and a simple wooden stringer whitch bends the foam to the desired shape with gorrila glue which looks like it works fine

part 1 ... re=related
part 2 ... re=related

part 3 ... re=related

I built a wood board once it didnt come out very good since wood is a pain to bend sand shape etc. foam is alot softer and easier to make into the desired shape and i know a little bit about fiberglassing from boating but will still probably have to learn alot. should be fun to try this summer.

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 4:51 pm
by gbleck
My plywood board from this winter is a bit on the OMFG heavy side. Thing is 10-11lb with the straps on. It's a wing shape that's 121 by 46 with 1/2inch plywood and a layer of triaxial fiberglass on the bottom with epoxy. I think it's like 20oz glass. It was what I had on hand. I will never ever use anything that heavy again. It's not so much the glass it self that makes the board supper heavy. It's the massive amount of west system epoxy that I had to use layer on multiple times to get the weave filled. Still has a slight bit of wave to it but I just don't have the heart to put more epoxy on it. Mostly I did it as a project to keep busy in the deep winter. Should have left the glass off and gone with pure ply. Also I should have used thinner ply. The T nut fasteners inserted from the bottom and glassed over from the bottom side look to work though. My next project will be a foam directional. I'm looking for a divinacell or corecell source. Something local would be nice but I suppose I could get it shipped. I'm thinking closed cell core foam so I can use epoxy.

Buy a Bro or Jimmy Lewis.....

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 7:18 pm
by tog0713
When considering whether to build your own board after building quite a few I think there's a few things worth considering. First, for glass to react properly you need heat 80 degrees of better plus good ventilation and a good organic mask. In the cool Midwest having a warm shop with good ventilation becomes problematic....not so for me here in sunny warm St. Pete or with the Bro Brothers in Corpus. Second, forgetting the weight issuse we have evolved from flat boards to complex concaves. Its not hard to build flat boards, but in the end they don't really work. If they did everyone would be using them.

To build a board with any type of a complex concave rocker you need a rocker table and a vacuum system to vac the board to the table when you've figured out the right combination of glass, epoxy, foam, carbon and/or wood. Needless to say you have thousands of combinations to choose from not to mention hundreds of different types of glass mixes. And I haven't mentioned the million of possibilities for the rocker and outline which makes the board go. And then there's the mysteries of vacuum bagging. You can buy a good machine from West Marine for about $600 with a book on how to use vaccum bagging to build boats. This provides the basics, but there's still a lot of trial and error after that.

Then you have to figure out how to mount all the hardward and how to build the rails to keep the board from getting dinged up and the straps attached to a light board assuming your really trying to build a concave board that works.

I began with the advantage of knowing Pete Nordby well hanging out in his shop in the morning waiting to kite in the afternoon. He was building flat boards then using bags of sand to pressurize them. When he discovered the value of concaves working with Jimmy Lewis he switched to vacuum bagging just before his accidental death. I started building boards with the advantage of seeing him do it and having some of his last prototypes to use as guides. My rocker table has gone through a dozen renovations since I began and am thinking of building another one. While having solved many problems with rails and basic construction over years of trial and error I more than every respect the top builders like Jimmy Lewis, West and Jerry and Litewave Dave. The latter three have by the way proven very helpful with their comments and advice on my boardbuilding hobby which they need not have done...

So if I can give any advice its you can build a decent kiteboard if you spend lots and lots of time at it building a rocker table, buying a vacuum bagging pump and learning all the complexities of board building. I did it partially because when I started Pete was leading the industry and I had his ideas in the form of his last protos. Today no one would use these heavy TT's with too much rocker and wierd concaves. Now for the price of a vacuum machine you can get the latest and greatest carbon board that will go upwind and give you great air.....not a flat heavy piece of plywood that won't do any of these things. So this leads me to the conclusion of suggesting you spend your time and money on a real pro board and have lots of fun riding not breathing glass fumes.

For me because I live in St. Pete with a rocker table I know works plus the outlines with easy access to a huge fiberglass and boatbuilding supply store the size of a Home Depot nearby I'm going to continue to build wood and carbon boards as a hobby for family and friends. However, if I didn't have all the tools and the hard won experience, I'd buy a Bro or Jimmy Lewis board. For $600 you'll have something you know works and will spare yourself the headaches from breathing glass fumes...


Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 7:36 pm
by t bagger bob
I also made a light wind board out of plywood. It also turned out heavier than i wanted. I did`t use any fiberglass, just a wood sealer and paint. I used two pieces of 1/4 inch plywood glued together. I put a little rocker in it by taking one piece of the plywood, wetting it, put a block under each end and then placed a weight in the middle to give it the rocker. It doesn`t need to be a lot of weight ( I used a cinder block, more weight = more rocker) and i only left it on overnight. Then i glued and clamped the other piece of plywood to the one with the rocker. Home Depot has threaded insert to use for straps, fins and handle. Then just sand, seal, and paint.

The end result was "SECRET WEAPON" ( you have to give your board a name). It does a great job in light winds, but have two complaints because of the weight. 1) When I jump with this board I feel like my body is going to be torn in half. 2) It takes 2 or 3 guys to carry it to the beach.

To reduce weight next time I would cut the top piece of plywood smaller than the bottom (maybe 2-3 inches smaller around the perimiter) and then glue it.

Anyway, have fun building your board and good luck.

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 9:09 pm
by adseguy
Thanks for the input guys. I really am not looking for an awesome freestyle twin tip that will be light and never break. I'm just looking to get on the water in 13 knots or lower.


I appreciate the response, but wow that sounds like a lot of work. sounds like you a learned a lot in the process. Like you said it's easy to just buy a light wind board, but I don't want to do that and I'm not looking for jumping or durability. It'll just be a cruising light wind board. With that in mind what do you think for material? I really like the ply wood idea dn giving it a little rocker with some weights. How thick for the ply wood? Pine? Oak?

t bagger bob wrote:1) When I jump with this board I feel like my body is going to be torn in half. 2) It takes 2 or 3 guys to carry it to the beach.
HAHA that made me laugh

Thanks again for input guys and keep it coming. Once I get my material I'll post another pic :!:

Posted: Sat May 30, 2009 11:11 pm
by gbleck
Yea it's defiantly not a good way to save money. I'm dicking around with board building because it's something fun to do and I like building watercraft. I can't figure out how to get an El Toro dingy out of my basement so kiteboards it is. The twin was simply a way to get my hands dirty. I'm interested in course racing so I picked up a barley used North Race LTD to learn to ride and get an idea what a course board should look and real like. I have been collecting the parts for my heat curing, ventilated, vacuum bagging, rocker table. It will be around 7 foot long, two foot using lights to heat the inside and a simple on off electric thermostat to get a nice steady temp. Small fan to circulate the air. I'm looking to score a venturi pump from the dental office. I think the old pump is still working. The compressor was just leaky. I haven't decided on what surface I will use for the table yet. I don't know if it will be worth the effort to build a complex adjustable rocker system or just cut each wedge custom. I could just hand layup the board without a rocker table as a lot of surf shapers appear to do but I'd really like to get the weight down. Now to ponder the fin box question. Mini tuttle or future.

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 9:59 am
by West
You need to do some research on Trent, previously from Milwaukee. He used to make the killer plywood boards, and he ripped on them. I must say that while sitting at the Casino "beach" one day about 5 years, Jerry and I saw Trent walk by with one of his "custom wood boards", and we decided that we needed to start making our own boards. That was the impetus that led into Zero Gravity and BROKITE.

Jeff who lives in the western suburbs recently made a bigger, light wind board out of Plywood, and likes it alot. Just remember your enemy is weight. You want to try to build it to "tool around" and stay upwind, not to jump.

Enjoyed all of the posts from the others that have built boards. Bob you had me cracking up "2 or 3 guys to carry it to the beach. :lol: Keep up the board-building Tim. (Jerry and I were talking about you down in Corpus while building the new boards, you've always been inspirational!!) I would love to check out the course board.....Tuttle.....gotta love that windsurfing background, I used to install "tuttle" boxes in windsurfers at Angulo and Timpone.

Good luck Adrien, and if using epoxy, make sure to wear a respirator.

Venturi Pumps

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 1:23 pm
by tog0713
Hi Windchaser,

Seems like you've put a good deal of thought into your board building project. If you need a venturi pump for your vacuum bagging process you can get one from Fiberglass Supply in the Gorge. You can view their on line catalogue at . They can also provide a lot of advice on materials and techniques. One of their sales reps build Open Ocean poleboards and kiteboards. You can also buy a lot of what you need from West Marine, but while of hig quality its much more expensive than Fiberglass Supply which services a lot of pro board builders. If you want a real vaccum pump you can buy a Gast pump from McMaster Carr as I did and found it worth the money if your building a few boards.

On building a rocket table....I built a wood frame covered it with fiberboard with divinicell on top and glass over that. This took a lot of trial and error to get right and I would say becomes the most important part of the board building process. Its easy to copy a shape off a Jimmy Lewis or Bro board, but the bottom not so much. I like more concave for the lakes where you need it to get upwind through the onshore wind break....particularly at M. For Florida and Tampa Bay's flat water I could use less rocker for early planing, but when the Gulf goes off with head high rollers I'm golden with the little extra rocker.. And then there's the flex to consider. Am using wood for extra flex in the 5 way chop at M. Its easy to build a rigid board, but getting the flex to pop big air and to deaden the killer chop at need a light board that will flex.....without breaking in two when you land.



Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 1:33 pm
by tog0713
Ran into Trent kiting here of the Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay. He moved to Sarasota and comes up here when the winds blow out of the NW and offshore in Sarasota. Don't know if he's still building boards which he did by vacing together two pieces of plywood with some triax cloth making a flat board with some rocker on the ends. I do know he still comes in and has a ciggy between sessions and has switched from foils to tubes leaving me as the only one riding foils I've seen around Tampa Bay. Although I must say that when I say him he was riding some older inflato's and complained about having his bladders fail on a regular basis.....


Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 6:50 pm
by snowball
I cut out the foam and outline this morning. About 3/4 inch thick 4' 8" with a fishtail and a skimlike outline. Boards coming along good. I taped the two halves together and made a makeshift sanding block to sand the center lines soo both halves are exacly the same. Probably going to put the stringer in tommorow or atleast try haha. I'll post some more pics once its done.


Lets see some more some pics of you'rs as you're building!

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 7:29 pm
by skysurfr
Some of the old crew might remember my Cape Doctor Board. Angus aka Goose used good old Formica Counter top on his boards. The only problem with it was durability if you were "riding the beach"..... it was in fashion back then to ride up into the soft sand, reverse course and head back to the water.... that played hellon the bottom.

I still have the board with the faux butcherblock bottom!



Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:33 am
by tog0713

I remember you ripping on that board with the countertop bottom which as I recall had no concave. Putting concaves in boards which greatly increases the upwing capability greatly increases the complexity of board building. If I was trying to build a simple flat board I'd use two sheets of thin plywood with some glass and triax cloth in between with the ends propped up with a 2x4 for a little rocker. The builder could compress the blank with sandbags ala Pete Nordby or clamps. Once I built the blank cut out the shape with a sabre saw copying a success shape off a commercial board. Then I'd glass over the bottom. At this point you could also wrap the bottom with a decorative cloth and glass or use countertop material. Then I'd glass the top. For mounting the hardware you need to drill out the areas for mounting and fill them with glass and then drill out the glass for the bolts to mount the straps, handle, and fins.

When you finish all the above you'll end up with a flat rigid moderately heavy board. To get to a board that really works a builder needs to consider using divinicell foam, carbon cloth, and/or wood building a complex rocker table and setting up a vacuum system. After the builder does all this he needs to figure out how to build tough rails and what combination of divinicell, plastic, carbon cloth, triax and/or wood will give him a decent board which can only involve building testing and breaking proto boards. All this can be done, but anyone considering doing it should not underestimate the time and expense involved in trying to build a kiteboard that really works.....something you'd ride and have fun on in a wide variety of conditions.


Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:26 am
by Misfit
All this can be done, but anyone considering doing it should not underestimate the time and expense involved in trying to build a kiteboard that really works.....something you'd ride and have fun on in a wide variety of conditions.
This is so true. I really don't believe that building one is really a cheaper alternative to commercially available boards but rather a labor of love. If tinkering and tweaking is something that you enjoy and money spent and fumes inhaled aren't an issue then building a truly custom board may be the perfect solution for you. IMHO Tim is one of the fathers of custom board building for kiteboarding. His knowledge of materials and shapes as well as experiences are priceless. Thanks Tim and good luck Adrien and everyone else thats going to give it a try.


Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:11 pm
by snowball
check it



front and tail rockers


The blanks pretty much done

Pm me if anyone has any questions on building one this style, its pretty easy and homemade boards are sick when its light and alot of fun to build

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:58 pm
by adseguy
Good stuff Henry. Hope that comes out well! Is that one going to have straps?

My project hasn't gone anywhere. I'm stuck with some hard-core work right now and I have to get some 1/4 ply wood. Still undecided on my material except I know it'll be wood. Thanks for the bump on this thread. I'll get my material

Keep posting Henry.

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 12:40 pm
by V
rorke=ambassador of kite
tim=ambassador of failed inflato tubes (haha just kidding)

i saw trent on a 20.5m machine on a landboard in FL two thanksgivings

ride what u got! (including home-brew boards)...nice pics btw