This Step-By-Step Instructable will guide you through the process of making your own custom wakeskate using the Roarockit Skateboard Company's Thin Air Press vacuum bag system.
A wakeskate is basically a smaller wakeboard without the bindings. It is gripped just like a skateboard (sometimes with a soft, high-traction foam) and is generally ridden wearing old skate shoes. The lack of bindings make for a unique trick set that is similar to skateboarding, only without wheels and on the water.
The build in this tutorial is done by Matt Richardson of Frenique Customs. He has been building wakeskates for a few years and has been kind enough to share his process with the DIY community. You can check out a wakeskate build review he did for us a while back here - http://www.rockitalk.com/blog/2012/7/23/wakeskate-build-review-pt1.html
For this build, you will need to following Tools & Materials:
(8) Layers of 1/16" Double Wide Maple Veneers (24" x 48" uncut dimension)
(1) 36"x52" Thin Air Press vacuum bag kit (includes pump, breather netting and sealing tape)
(1) 2" Foam Slab (dimension should match your veneer size)
(1) Adhesive Trowel
Pen or Pencil
*optional Paper Template
West System Epoxy Resin + Hardener
Sharp Utility Knife
Step 1: Prepare Veneers
Show All 7 Items
The first thing you will want to do before pressing your custom wakeskate is to prepare the veneers. To do this, you need to cut them to the size of your mold. For this particular board, the builder is using (8) layers of veneer. It is possible to do either more or less layers, depending on your desired thickness and weight of the finished board.
*If you would like to see how to design and shape a foam mold, check out our video tutorial below:
Once you know the final dimension of you mold, cut down the veneers to match the shape. This will help prevent excess veneer from being pressed inaccurately to your mold. Measure/cut the length and width of your veneers if needed using a sharp utility knife and a straight edge ruler. If you cut deep enough into the veneer, your should be able to easily break off the excess material along your cut line.
Step 2: Pressing Veneers
Show All 12 Items
Once you have all of your veneers precut to the appropriate dimensions, you can gather all of the tools and materials needed to operate the Thin Air Press (TAP) vacuum bag. Because of the larger veneers and mold needed for a wakeskate, the builder is using the 36"x52" TAP bag that is generally used for other large woodworking applications.
When you have everything together, you can start to apply the epoxy to the veneers.
**Because wakeskates are used exclusively in the water, it is a good idea to use an epoxy to adhere and protect the layers of veneer. Do some research on what products are available locally, and always follow the directions on the product you are using. Many 2-part epoxies have different ratios of resin-to-hardener, so it is very important to follow the directions.
Evenly spread the mixed epoxy resin with an adhesive trowel on both sides of every veneer layer. When all of the layers have been coated, the project can be place onto the mold and put into the vacuum bag. Place the breather netting under the valve on your TAP bag, and make sure it runs onto the project itself. This will help the air evenly evacuate from the bag.
Once you hear the 'click' sound from your manual hand pump, you know that all of the air has been evacuated from the TAP bag. Check your bag over the next hour to make sure there are no slow leaks in your bag. If the TAP bag is holding it's seal, you can leave your project in the bag for 8 hours to dry.
Step 3: Layout Wakeskate Shape
Show All 7 Items
Once the project has fully cured in the bag, you can remove it and begin to layout your desired shape.
Start by opening up the sealed end of the TAP bag. It is a good idea to start in the middle and work your way out to the edges of the bag. Once you have the bag end open, we highly recommend replacing the paper backing strip onto the exposed sealing tape. This will help keep the sealing tape clean and usable for your next build!
Remove the project from the bag and safely store your TAP bag for next time.
If you do not have a paper template for the finished shape of your board, you can draw right on your project to design the profile. Start by marking your centerline on the deck by measuring width of your laminated board. The Rockitruler can be used to measure and mark the centerline, even without needing truck holes.
** Check out our Instructable for how to design a paper template for a custom skateboard shape here
Once you are finished drawing your final outline, you can move on to cutting and sanding your custom wakeskate.
Step 4: Cut/Sand Wakeskate
You are now ready to cut out your wakeskate shape from the pressed blank. This can be done using a jigsaw, bandsaw or a router template. Keep in mind that the project will be a bit harder to cut with the epoxy layers as opposed to the standard wood glue.
Once the final shape has been cut out, you can start to hone your finished shape using an edge sander. This can also be done by clamping your project to a stable surface and using a belt sander. Try and stay as close to the line as possible for accuracy.
When you are happy with outer profile of your board, you can sand the top and bottom surfaces smooth. This will remove any pencil marks and help prep the veneer to evenly accept the finish. Any electric, pneumatic or hand sanding device will accomplish this task. You may also choose to add a roundover to the edge profile of your board, which can be done during this step as well.
Step 5: Apply Finish
When you are finished sanding and shaping your wakeskate, you can seal the board with a waterproof finish. Unlike a skateboard, which may occasionally come in contact with water, your wakeskate is meant to be fully submersed and in constant contact with the water. Because of this, you will want to protect it with strong, water repelling finish. Epoxy or Spar varnish may be your best, readily available, solutions. If you are unsure, check in with a boating supply or marine specialty shop.
For this build, because of the availability and ease of use, we are using the same West System epoxy that was used to adhere the layers of veneer. If you take the time to apply and sand multiple coatings, you should be able to get a beautiful smooth finish on your board.
Step 6: Grip It & Rip It!
Once your board has been properly sealed, you are ready to apply the grip and take it out on the water!
Because there are no bindings to lock your feat into, applying grip to the top side of a wakeskate is an essential part of the board. There are generally two kinds of grip people apply to their wakeskates for traction - Grip Tape or Foam - and it usually comes down to the feel and preference of the rider.
Matt from Frenique went with the grip tape (the same stuff used on most skateboards) on this build. Grip tape will give the rider a lot of traction, but the abrasive coating requires the use of shoes when riding. It can also cause skin abrasions if you fall and scrape the board while riding.
Apply the grip tape the same way you would on a skateboard... if you don't know how that's done, check out this simple, yet effective Instructable - http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-grip-a-skateboard/
NOW RIDE! No Instructable on this... just get yourself a boat, some water, your new handmade wakeskate and GIV'R!!