So I was recently asked how I got into shaping, my answer? Well, before I started shaping, just about every time I ordered a custom board I’d end up with something other than what I’d expected. It always left a sour taste in my mouth, so I’d always wanted to try making myself a board. I figured if they couldn’t make me what I’d envisioned, then maybe I should do it myself.
As a young kid I was always doodling and drawing, or building models… before I discovered skateboarding and surfing I was kind of a little nerd. I wasn’t very athletic and I wasn’t into team sports, I was kind of an introverted little dude. Years later, after I’d been surfing for a while and had ordered a few custom surfboards, I’d almost never gotten what I wanted… I was complaining to a friend about a recent disappointment and he said “why don’t you just shape one yourself? I’m sure you could do it.”
That was all the encouragement it took, I was tired of being let down so I just went for it. I bought a planer, some hand tools, and 3 blanks. Then I set up some racks and lights in my dad’s garage and started mowing foam. Back then no shaper would show you or teach you anything they knew. It was the age of the “guru shaper” they wouldn’t ask you what you wanted, it was more like they’d tell you what you were going to get, and I’m sure there might have been a legit reason in some cases… like maybe they were only shaping one style of board, and they knew it was the best thing they could give you, knowing it would work. I too found myself in that position when I first started shaping, so I can relate and understand and that’s how I would get into that situation of not getting what I want or needed.
I’ve never forgotten that let down feeling to this day and it still motivates me to make the board my customer’s looking for and nothing less.
There are a lot of guys that are 100% self-taught. I was self-taught too and after shaping about 6 boards I took one to get glassed at the Natural Progression factory in Santa Monica, the dude at the door asked if I shaped the board, I said yes, he said, “you know just enough to work here, you want a job?” and I was like, “Yes!” and that’s when I really started to learn. When I saw the guys in there I just kind of watched and you sort of get an idea of what they’re doing and you pick up a little from each guy, but no one ever really “taught me” until I started doing the ghost shaping, and it wasn’t really teaching at that point anyway… it was more like correction. I worked as a ghost shaper for all the big name shapers, at one point I was getting paychecks from Town & country, Local Motion, and HIC all at the same time, I don’t think there’s anyone else out there that can say that. In that period of my career I learned more about what NOT to do, than what TO do.
Nowadays, I make it a point to ask a lot of questions when people are getting a board, sometimes I see their eyes rolling back in their heads, LOL, so maybe I ask too many once in a while? No, that’s impossible, you can never ask too many questions. I also try to explain what I’m doing, and give them the run down on the basics of shaping, the terminology if you will. We work through it together and while I’m learning about them they learn about their board.