Most snowboarders are content purchasing a factory-manufactured board from their favorite brand. And for good reason — snowboards are engineered to not only enhance your performance, but also to withstand the often-harsh conditions and abuse that come with the sport.
However, a number of snowboard purists are starting to understand the importance of a well-thought-out quiver and appreciate different sensations while riding. Much like in surfing, there has been a movement around alternative-shaped snowboards in the last couple of years that has seen enthusiasts depart from the traditional twin-tip designs made popular in the ’90s and look toward more directional options.
The ultimate mode of self-expression and the pinnacle for any snowboarder intent on developing his own quiver ultimately comes in the form of a self-shape. Again borrowing from surfing, many snowboarders and brands are beginning to emphasize the value of designing, building and riding a board you make yourself.
For the modern snowboarder, a self-shape might be the best way to truly connect with the mountain. We found four epic ways any rider can shape their own stick.
If you want a self-shape that actually works and that you can ride at both the resort and in the backcountry, then the PowderJet Workshop is the best choice for new shapers. The classes, which are offered at a number of retailers across the country, offer a hands-on learning experience that will help aspiring shapers from concept to completion.
PowderJet was started in a Maine workshop in 2009 by snowboarder and craftsman Jesse Loomis. “When you actually get to shape your own board, you really think through every aspect,” he explains. “Every curve or cut is a decision that defines your board’s performance.”
Keeping it weird since the 1970s, the fine folks at Lib Tech now offer a blank that you can shape into your own unique creation. Lib Tech has been at the forefront of snowboard technology, but at their core, they are a group of mad scientists who love promoting experimentation.
What you get is a high-quality blank pressed in the United States with a nose and tail scoop and binding inserts. This means you get a canvas that is actually functional at the very basic level, but how you shape it is up to you. It is highly suggested that you use an outline template of a shape that you already enjoy, especially for the sidecut, as free-handing can lead to a nearly unrideable board.
Build a complete DIY
Building a board press might be hard, but where there is a DIY will, there is a DIY way.
While there are craftsmen out there who can certainly make their own board from start to finish, this route isn’t for the faint of heart. A full DIY build gives the shaper complete creative control from the outline to the materials used.
There are a number of how-to guides available online, and the team at Signal Snowboards made a complete for under $100 in one of their popular Third Thursday episodes. However, they have a factory that includes presses.
For a true DIY build, you will have to build a press or shape a board out of a solid material. True DIYs will be best suited for backcountry expeditions, as the likelihood of making something from scratch that is resort friendly is a long shot.
Power tools and dreams are all it takes to self-shape a YES Clark custom.
There is no denying that the current self-shape and alternative-shape movements were inspired by our surfing forefathers, and the YES Clark is the ultimate nod to surfboard shapers. Clark Foam was the leading foam-blank manufacturer in the world from 1961 to 2005, and their blanks allowed many of today’s most recognized surfboard shapers to get their start.
Following this lineage, YES Snowboards offers a fully customizable pre-pressed blank with inserts. Much like the Lib Tech Blank, this allows you to have a custom shape without owning a press.
YES rider and co-owner David Carrier-Porcheron is an avid surfer, so it was no surprise when YES released the Clark, allowing snowboarders to become garage shapers overnight.
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