Passing it On
Much like his father’s, Josh’s workshop features many little stockpiles of scrap material: Driftwood, unused resin, and anything else with the potential to be transformed into something new. (If you’re in the market for a cool shifter knob, check out his Etsy page.)
Josh learned so much from his dad about making and about living. Today, he carries on his father’s legacy of hand-building surfboards. To know the craft from start to finish is a rare form of expertise, one that Josh feels a calling to pass onto others near and far. Through in-person apprenticeships and online video tutorials, Josh is enabling another generation to build the tools they need to explore.
What goes into crafting a surfboard from the inside out? We sat down with the professor of surfcraft himself to find out.
It Starts with the Surfer
A custom-built surfboard is a life-long purchase. Even if it breaks, boards rarely get thrown away because of all the memories that were created on them. So, when Josh prepares to make a surfboard for someone, it’s less about the product, and more about the person, and all the memories that they plan to make on their board. The process begins with a few high-level questions:
Where do you wanna surf on this board? The geographic “home beaches” of the surfer dictate a lot about the shape of the board. “For example, if someone says that they wanna surf San Onofre or Doheny Beach, those are slow, rather slopey, and not very powerful waves. That will dictate flater rocker.”
What’s your dream wave? Here, Josh wants to know what kind of maneuvers the surfer likes or aspires to do. Even when they joke about never being able to reach a goal, Josh still factors it in. “I don’t like to underestimate anyone’s ability to adapt and overcome. I can build a board that works for their skill level, but leaves them room to progress.”
After these physical, psychological, and geographic conversations, Josh has an idea of the shape of the board. Then, he starts carving.