Sustainable Surfboards Use Wood Minus the Moisture

Just like any other craft, the making of wooden surfboards has taken on a following all its own due in part to the popularity and demand of eco-friendly, sustainable products. Websites, blogs and forums have proliferated the Internet, finding people with an interest in building their own wooden surfboards. With an interest in the organic, this trees-to-the-seas phenomenon has taken off, and literally overnight something that was old, and even ancient, is suddenly new again.

Surfing originated in Hawaii, with boards made of the Koa trees that ranged anywhere from 10 to 16 feet in length, and the act of surfing was considered more of a spiritual event than a recreational activity. Through the centuries, surfboards were made from redwood, balsa and even plywood. After the end of World War II, technology took over and the advent of fiberglass created a lighter, trimmer board, saving forests from decline.

Paulownia Trees

Today, surfboard builders are considering less hazardous materials like the paulownia tree, rather than the polyurethane chemicals and resin of yesterday that were used to create the foam core of the surfboard. Wooden surfboard builders now have a wider choice of wood from surfboard suppliers that also offer surfboard and fin kits, as well as accessories. Suddenly, harnessing the waves with an all-natural board made using the same methods established 100 years ago captures the heart and the soul of surfing itself.

Paulownia groves exist all over the world today, but are native to Southeast Asia. This wood happens to be not only lightweight, but also extremely buoyant, absorbing little water and regenerating when cut from the ground. In the US, paulownia groves are grown in Georgia and South Carolina. Unlike traditional surfboards, those made with paulownia wood don’t need to be glassed. Surfers need to do very little maintenance, and unlike traditional fiberglass surfboards, these wooden surfboards need just a touch of sandpaper and never need ding repair. Like any other wood species used for building or craft purposes, the paulownia wood needs to be air dried to release moisture. Surfboard builders, just like boat builders, use devices to assist with exact measurements before beginning any project.

Regardless of the species of wood used, each piece needs a meter reading to test for moisture. Its importance can’t be denied; it can make the difference in a surfboard that over time maintains its flexibility without warping or twisting. Accurate MC readings among the planks can make a big difference in the outcome of your wooden surfboard project. Among the lightest woods to use for surfboards would be balsa, followed by paulownia and then cedar and basswood. Surfboard builders ensure that the specific gravity or the density of the wood falls between 0.160 and 0.320.

Wood surfboard and boat builders can rely on Wagner Meters’ compact, pinless moisture meters for accuracy and precision with their innovative meter technologies. Their lightweight Wagner MMC220 “Extended Range” Moisture Meter allows for in-depth readings up to a 3⁄4” depth with its patented IntelliSense technology and a 7-year Manufacturers Warranty. These meters measure the MC of the wood without the time consuming effort of driving pins into the wood for test spots, which can mar the wood grain and finish. Protect your investment with Wagner Meters. It’s the right tool for all your woodworking, craft and home projects.


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