This project came about as a result of an attempt to recreate for my kids, the simple but wonderful sensation of being propelled at speed on a wave, using only a crudely fashioned (and from memory completely flat and unfinished) piece of wood. In the same way that my Dad had done for me.
The basic principle remains intact. That however is about all that remains the same. The first boards I made were simple and effective, but I felt there was scope to improve both the function and the aesthetic.
The first aim was to improve the buoyancy over a solid wooden or plywood board, but without changing the shape or thickness. To achieve this the the boards are constructed with laminates of Finish Birch plywood or solid constructional veneers, with a core made of closed cell foam and Balsa Wood. In order to keep the thickness to a minimum while maintaining the strength, the boards are fibreglassed and finished with polished bio-resin.
The next aim was to improve the speed and performance of the boards, so the vacuum forming process creates what are effectively small fins at the tail end of the rails and as a result a concave bottom to the board. The thinking here (and I'm open to input from more qualified persons than myself) is that the hollow would create slightly lower drag on the board and the rails would help hold the board on a wave. The results certainly seems to work. The polished finish to the epoxy is so smooth that I'm sure that adds to the speed too.
Then I had another idea that has taken me in a slightly different direction. The second version is the same length and width, with the same shape, but much thinner and with a different construction. This time there is no foam core, so there isn't the added buoyancy. The construction is in Birch veneers only, but strengthened with fibreglass cloth laminates. The outer finish this time is polished bio-resin without the fibreglass. The result is an incredibly flexible board at only 6mm thick, and with a marked difference in performance. From the little experience I have so far, it seems to be even faster, but it's the way the shape of the board can be changed as it's ridden that is the most exciting.
Finally there are the aesthetics. There is an inherent beauty to the shape, which combined with the natural grain of the timber lends itself to making the boards into much more than purely functional objects. Here the possibilities are endless. My intention is to offer the foam cored board in a choice of Birch plywood or solid wood veneer finishes. These will be available in a number of solid colour ways with the "BUTCH" logo. There will also be limited runs of fully decorated boards as the "Sea Holly" design by Emma Hardicker, and the Chinese Silk designs shown on this page. The "Skinny BUTCH' (ironically I share part of my name, but none of the characteristics of the descriptive name with the board) will be offered in solid colour ways with the "BUTCH" logo. Personalisng boards is also an option.
A dedicated website is under way and will hopefully be up and running soon. In the meantime if anyone would like to discuss a board then please contact me by email or on one of the phone numbers at the foot of the page.
I'm also keen for the boards to be tested further, so if you are a keen/experienced bodyboarder(foam or wood) then I'd be pleased to hear from you. A farm in rural Herefordshire isn't the most obvious location for surf craft to be made, or the most convenient.
Birch plywood with a foam core, wrapped in a Chinese wallpaper design by Fromental. Fully fibreglassed. FOR SALE £275.00
Laminated Birch plywood board with foam core. Decorative laminate taken from a silk screen print design by Birmingham based artist Emma Hardicker. FOR SALE : £295.00
Two Birch plywood boards with decorative laminates applied waiting for a layer of fiberglass and epoxy to finish
Laminated Birch plywood board with foam core, with a design taken from a hand painted silk wallpaper by Fromental. FOR SALE : £275.00
The underside of a bare wood board prior to fibreglassing, showing the vacuum shaped rails and tail of the board.
Constructed from laminated Birch plywood with a foam and Balsa wood core. Fully fibreglassed outer with a polished finish. 117cm x 30cm x 1cm thick. FOR SALE : £195.00
Laminated European Oak with a foam and Balsa wood core, and added internal laminates of glass fibre for added strength. Finished with fibreglass and polished bio-resin. SOLD.
American Black Walnut laminated to a foam core, and fully fibreglassed. FOR SALE £250.00
Black Walnut Alaia
I've had a number of requests from surfers as to whether I could make a board in the style of an Alaia using the same construction methods as the belly boards. Alaias are traditionally solid wood, fin-less surfboards. So the aim is to take the style and performance characteristics of the Alaia, and try to build on that by adding extra buoyancy, and because the board is shaped by vacuum laminating, develop a shape that would be more difficult if shaped from solid, and hopefully improve the performance. The first board has been tested and the results were better than I could have hoped for. A second, and slightly altered board is now under construction. This board is 5ft 8inches long, 18 inches wide and 1.25 inches thick. The outer veneers are American Black Walnut, with a Balsa wood and 1 inch thick foam core. The surface finish is fibreglass with a bio-resin. Please contact me for further information.