It Had To Be Said

It Had To Be Said

The copycats and faux wood builders really get to me sometimes. It’s time to be honest, something has to be said. Wooden surfboards are not a new idea, they’ve been around for thousands of years. Anyone who talks a big game, like they've single-handedly created a new industry is wrong and full of shit. You know who you are.

A hundred years ago, Tom Blake pioneered a new way of building wood boards, hollow and lighter in weight. These boards made surfing a household word. Sadly, for wood lovers, wartime brought about the advent of foams and resins and wood boards all but disappeared- banished to crawlspaces, attics, and nautical-themed restaurant walls. 

As lifelong woodworkers and lovers of watercraft, we started Grain because of our love of the process. While we love to create new shapes, it’s the materials and the process that we’re passionate about. Since day one, we’ve been committed to wood as our material of choice. While we know there are more efficient ways to design and build surfboards, we really don’t care about that stuff. We care about enjoying what we do and lightening our impact on the environment. We know hand tools, and we love working with spokeshaves and handplanes, drawknives and chisels. It’s important to us to be able to chat while we’re working, to share stories, listen to music and give visitors tours of our shop without requiring them to don personal protective equipment (yes we wear it when we’re milling wood). 

Maine company Grain Surfboards uses Maine cedar for building |

But what we started 18 years ago was simply an extension of what was going on before us. Everything is derived. We were inspired by Tom Blake and his work in the 1930’s, but we were equally inspired by those who built true modern wood boards before us, people like Paul Jensen and Danny Hess come to mind. Of course, we tried to learn from their craft, but not so we could imitate them, more so we knew how to do it differently, our own way. We took the history of wood boards and combined it with our experiences building boats and the technology we knew to create a method of our own, derived from others' efforts but specifically different from anyone before us. A building method we could get behind, that made sense to us and the local material we chose to use, one we could share with people. Cause if you love something, you want to share it with others. 

Grain Home Grown Surfboard Kits – Fyne Boat Kits

 I will say that we’re immensely proud of the number of wood builders in the world and we’re happy to think that in a small way, we’ve helped do our part to inspire a change in the industry. But yet, something still bothers us. 

We applaud anyone's effort to do better, but we also feel that honesty and integrity are strong traits in a brand. In the years after we started building boards, many have followed along and some of them have laid claim to inventing something new when in reality they simply copied others' methods, technology, or business model. There are so many great ways to build a better surfboard. We do it our way, but we know better ways are waiting to be explored and invented. It’s discouraging after 18 years of dedication to our craft that others simply study photos, copy methods and proclaim their greatness. 

Glenmorangie Beyond the Cask - Grain Surfboards - Wooden Surfboard - Reduce  - KINGSSLEEVE

 We also need to call out some of the most vocal “wood board” brands for their use of foam as a core. It’s true, your boards are beautiful! And if you can use wood in a way that alleviates fiberglass and resin, even better. But we’re sorry, you’re not building wood boards! A wood board is built of wood. It gets its strength from wood and from the wood structure that makes it up. Just because it’s hidden doesn’t mean it’s not there. Recyclable foam just puts the weight on the consumer to recycle. It should be up to the brand to do better. If you’re going to make what have always been compsands (composite sandwich construction are not wood boards), why not do it with recycled or bio-based foams. They exist. And if you’re using competing brands names in your SEO or paid media strategies to pull in traffic to your own website, shame on you.

We believe wooden boards are at the beginning of their journey, and we know we can do better. We encourage everyone to do THEIR best to find their own way as well. For those who are, and who are doing it with sincerity, dedication and humility, we’re proud to be working alongside you.

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