How A Surfboard Is Made

We recently took a trip to JS Industries headquarters on the Gold Coast of Australia to see how a board is created using foam, shaping machines, resin, and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease. From the ordering process to how the fins are mounted it’s all here… Thanks to JS Industries for opening up their factory for us!

JS Industries Order Form

The first step in the creation of a surfboard is filling out an order form. As a customer, this step is crucial as it's the only part of the process you have control over. Do some homework before you write down your order and don't be afraid to ask questions—you only get one chance and can't change it once the board enters the production phase. It doesn't hurt to scribble down notes either like, "Make it light!"

Paul Stacey

After your board is ordered, Paul Stacey (a keen shaper in his own right) inputs it into the computer, assigns it an order number, and fills in the top secret design specifications.

Foam Blanks

JS Industries primarily uses Burford Blanks which come in all shapes and sizes. Consider the blank a canvas that is about to get painted on…

Ground Control

Meet your shaper! JS Industries has three shaping machines that run for two shifts—one in the am and one that lasts well into the arvo. These computers tell the machines in the next photo what to do.

Shaping Machine

After the blank is set onto the shaping machine, a buzz saw (for lack of a better term) carves out the dimensions requested by the computer program. It takes just over 20 minutes to complete this process.

Shaping Machine Motor

The guts behind the shaping machine.

Foam Dust

With the amount of boards JS Industries does, heaps of foam dust gathers in the shaping machines. The bays have to be scooped out every single day by a company that recycles the stuff.

Shaped Blanks

After a board comes out of the shaping machine, it waits for a human to finish it up. The rails need to be "turned down" and the little grooves left by the shaping machine need to be sanded out by hand.

Shaped JS Blanks

While the shaping machine does a lot of the work, an actual human needs to trim off the tail (seen here) and other critical aspects of the finished product.

JS Tail

In this photo, Jason Stevenson aka "JS" cuts out a tail for star team rider Joel Parkinson. While a machine does the heavy lifting, it takes an experienced shaper to fine tune the board.

Jason Stevenson

With the help of medium grit sandpaper, JS smoothes out the small grooves the shaping machine left behind. This Parko sled was looking sick!

White Spray

After the board is finished being shaped, it makes its way to this little room where it gets sprayed with a white coat that makes it stay whiter for a longer period of time—nobody likes an old yellowed board! PS Craig "Scat" Pitchers doesn't actually do the spraying, he was our handsome male model this day.

Poster

Like any good surfboard manufacturer, the walls of JS Industries feature beautiful and thought provoking decor...

Here are a few of Brett Simpson and Jordy Smith's boards after they'd been airbrushed. These days it's pretty much split down the middle; some boards are sprayed before being glassed, while others have art painted on top of the glass. Either way, having some color or design on your board makes it go faster and rip harder…at least in your mind.

The glassing process involves wrapping a board in fiberglass then applying the least amount of resin possible so as to not make the board heavy. The fiberglass makes the board strong while the resin holds it together. This bloke doing the work is former touring pro Matt Branson. He wanted us to point out that he usually wears a mask, just not when the camera is out.

Glassing Bay

A good glass job is just as important as a good shape and nobody does it better than Branno. These boards will dry for up to a day depending on the temperature and humidity.

FCS Plugs

If a board is ordered with a FCS setup, holes are routed into the board after it's been glassed. If it's a Futures system, the fin boxes are inserted before the board is glassed.

FCS Plugs

To make sure the fin plugs are in the board nice and straight, these plastic guides are used. If a plug is off even the tiniest bit it can render the board useless.

Surfboard Sanding

The sanding process is two fold and deserves more than just one photo but it was getting so damn hot this day that we snapped one photo in the sanding bay and got out of there. The key part of sanding is to take out as much resin as you can without compromising the strength and integrity of the board. You want it light but strong. Buy your local sander a beer sometime, they don't get enough credit!

Surfboard Shipping

After the board is shaped, glassed, sanded and inspected for quality (the smallest of blemishes are unacceptable at JS) it goes to this fella who packs 'em up with bubble wrap and sends them on your way. Maybe one day he'll send a board to you!