If you surf Bondi you would have seen Scott before. He is the guy who catches a lot of waves and surfs the most beautiful boards. Scott’s the shaper behind Waxa Surf Boards. Because I’m generally a curious gidget, I’ve asked Scott to show me how to make boards; In theory I knew…Kind of, but I’ve never had a custom board shaped or even set foot in a board factory. So Scott kindly opened the doors to his man shed for a look behind the scenes.
Within the big shed there are two little sheds. One is the glassing room and the other one is the shaping room. They are both bright. One is full of colour the other one is pretty white and bright, especially the shaping room needs to specially position the lights to see all the curves and bumps in a board so I’m being told. There is a lot of dust around in the shaping shed. The first 10 minutes in there I thought I was going to choke. Other than dust, there are some blanks lying around. Boards are made out of blanks. They look like white boogie boards for giants. They have a somewhat similar outline of a board but not really. With the help of templates for curves and other tools (and his guns), he whips the board into shape. What comes out of the shaping shed is something that looks like a board without clothes. On one of the walls Scott has written the specs of all the boards he’s made. A pretty impressive list… Just under 200 boards so far. They all have names too. I like the names, Po – a board named after his mate who is one of his test pilots, Roscoe street – one after a famous street in Bondi, … I suggested a ‘Venus Goes Gidget’ specific board but apparently there is no difference between a girls and guys board really. I thought there might be e.g in terms of center of gravity might be different (due to the boobs and longer legs, right…) but nope it’s just really we are a bit weaker when it comes to paddling and maybe turning so you just adapt the board to the individual skill level and ability rather than gender. Sounds reasonable.
One thing that fascinated me was how anyone manages to shape a board by hand that’s perfectly even. Scott makes it sound and look easy, but trying to picture myself shaping a board, I could already see myself ending up with a board for midgets cos I would keep on shaping more and more off in an attempt to make both sides even. Scott assures me it’s just practice and that his first board was not exactly perfect either.
After I’ve investigated all the tools in the shaping room I forgot the names of (I did not take notes in my excitement), we went into the glassing room. The glassing room is where the boards get ‘dressed’. They get a layer of fiberglass cloth first. Fiberglass comes in different weights and thickness. Depending on the type of board you use different weights. There are big rolls of cloth in the resin room as well as lots of different color paint. Scott does not do white boards. White boards are boring. And he should not. If you see his boards you know why (check out his site for some he’s made – waxasurfboards.com.au >> ). If you order a board with Scott, you can ask for any custom colour. Gidgets, you can now get boards matching your nailpolish – no joke, Scott told me he once matched a board to a nailpolish sample… The color then gets mixed with the resin and some hardener and onto the board. Again, Scott makes it look easy. He casually pours the stinky stuff over the board and waits for it to try before it gets another layer if needed – again dependent on the size of board. You don’t want too many layers, otherwise the boards get heavy but if you don’t have enough you may destroy it straight away. If you ever bought a performance board like the Channel Islands you know what I mean. The glassing is so light that almost every time you jump up on your board you make a dent… The resin by the way smells very intense and pretty toxic so you are better off wearing a mask when you work with that stuff (same applies when you fixing your boards at home…serious intense smell – can’t be healthy).
Generally, I found it really interesting to see how our favourite toys are made. It’s also good to see that there are still shapers out there who put effort into each individual board. What I like about Waxa Surfboards is that they are boards without compromise, 99% of the board is Australia made and hand shaped by the Master Scott himself. Ok, they come at price too but you know you get a high quality board. Scott does not want to (and does need to) compete with the cheapie boards that pop out of a machine imported from Thailand or China.
If you are a starter gidget, Scott’s boards are probably a bit out of your league, like you would not learn how to drive in a Ferrari, right… but if you’ve been surfing for quite a bit and you are looking for a great board that lasts for a bit (and is cheaper than a Ferrari), I would have a chat to Scott and see what he can do for you…especially if you are looking for a mal or a fish. Prices range from $1,000 for short boards to $1,750 for longboards which is a bit more expensive but not much more expensive than your board off the rack. And remember you get what you pay for. Out of all the boards he’s made only one has ever creased, if that’s not a great track record, I don’t know what is…oh and don’t forget you can get it in the colour of the season… Also, Christmas is coming up, if you need a present for a very special person you know where to go…
Check out the Waxa website for more details on the boards: waxasurfboards.com.au >>
Many thanks again to Scott for taking the time to show me around.