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Make a Snowboard Video Guide
Made long ago but still applicable, this video guide covers how to make a snowboard from beginning to end using the vacuum pressing method and Boardcrafter Design.
Intro: How To Make a Snowboard Video Guide
Inspired Snowboard Design - Part 1
Snowboard Design Customization - Part 2
Snowboard Mold Rib Template - Part 3
Making Snowboard Mold Ribs - Part 4
Snowboard Mold Setup - Part 5
Make a Snowboard Base Template - Part 6
Routing Base Material - Part 7
Shaping and Attaching Snowboard Edges - Part 8
Snowboard Core Shaping - Part 9
Layup Preparations - Part 10
Layup and Vacuum Pressing - Part 11
Snowboard Finish Work - Part 12
Base masking tip
Snowboard Component Materials
Here is an overview of the materials you will need to build a snowboard:
The most commonly used wood is Poplar but other woods can be used to make a core.
The most commonly used composite is 22 oz triaxial knit fiberglass cloth. Some manufactures and builders also use carbon fiber, but do so sparingly since it can dramatically stiffen a snowboard.
This can be polyethylene, P-Tex, or any durable plastic that will bond well with epoxy resin.
Sintered Ultra-high Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) sheet designed for wax absorption and epoxy bonding.
Steel edges are designed specifically for use in snowboards and skis. They feature T-prongs which are used to set the edges to the base material.
ABS, P-tex, or polyurethane strips that protect the core from moisture and make the board more resistant to damage from impacts (not required for cap-style snowboard sidewalls).
Special metal capped nuts designed specifically to be used in snowboards. They provide the threaded holes used to attach bindings to the snowboard.
The glue that holds all of the above mentioned materials together. The most commonly used epoxy among snowboard builders is marine epoxy.
Tip Spacer Material
The same material selected for sidewalls is often used as tip spacer material. This provides the same damage protection described for sidewall material but is applied in larger segments since the snowboard tip and tail are most prone to damage.
Thin rubber strips that soften vibration during riding and decrease the risk of delamination by reducing stress between the edges and fiberglass.
Snowboard Template Making Tips
Assuming you are cutting the core yourself from a printout
Take some practice runs with your jigsaw before attempting to cut out the snowboard template. Trace something round (like a bucket) to understand how well your jigsaw cuts and get comfortable with it.
Fine Cut Blade
Use a new wood blade with fine teeth. A wood blade with coarse teeth will cut too quickly and roughly which increases the likelihood of making a mistake.
Slowly apply the snowboard template printout with spray adhesive starting from the middle of the printout.
If the printout goes lays down cockeyed check to see if the printed lines are all on the MDF (i.e. not hanging over the edge) and that there are no wrinkles that could distort the shape. If your template is good on both these points you should be OK.
Cut off excess MDF with a circular saw so that the jigsaw does not need to go as far to get to the shape.
Approach the template cutting line with your jigsaw so that you will not have to make a sharp turn to start cutting out your snowboard shape.
Cut along the template line very carefully and patiently with the best jigsaw you can get. A quality jigsaw will save you from a lot of frustration.
Ninety Degree Sides
When sanding the edges of your template after cutting it out be sure you are maintaining a 90-degree angle. If you don’t have a 90-degree angle it is not going to be a good running surface for your trim router and it will be harder to check symmetry.
Check your template against another printout to see how you did. If one side is bad you can use the good side to make a new good template.
Be willing to start over. The template needs to be right so forgive yourself if you blow it, learn from the mistakes and try again -this will pay off in the end.
Build and Maintain a Snowboard
In no particular order here is an overview of tools that are nice to have for building and maintaining a snowboard:
Long Nose Spring Clips
Spring clips are used for many small clamping/clipping applications during snowboard building but are especially useful for attaching steel edges to base material prior to layup.
3-Inch Pony Spring Clamps
A larger version of the Spring Clips (Pony Clips) referenced above.
Deep Reach C-Clamp
C-Clamps are ‘C’ shaped clamps that are good to hold tight anything you are working on with a handheld power tool like a jigsaw, trim router, or drill. These are commonly used when you are first cutting out your template, or giving your wood core its shape, or trimming off the excess material around your snowboard once it’s out of the press.
Steel Bar Clamp
Bar clamps are good to provide a steady hold for anything that is wide and shallow. If you plan on making your own cores these are a ‘must have’ but are optional if you will be purchasing snowboard cores from a supplier. When making a snowboard core bar clamps are used to tightly hold the wood stringers together while the glue dries.
When tacking on edges to a snowboard’s base material a file is good to use to achieve a tight seam. You will typically cut your edge with .5 to 1 mm of excess length and then use a file to trim down the edge until it is a perfect fit.
Files are also good for tuning and de-tuning the edges of the snowboard after it’s been built. If you are not interested in de-tuning your snowboard edges you should consider using a Snowboard/Ski specific file with a 90-degree angle –it’s the easiest way to sharpen the snowboard edges.
5 In 1 Painters Tool
All-purpose scraper often used by house painters.
Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Vacuum (optional)
Heavy duty vacuum cleaner for shop/garage use.
Calipers are a measuring tool that very accurately measure thickness by clamping down on an object. Some Calipers feature an additional set of prongs to measure an interior space –for example if you wanted to check the interior width of a snowboard insert.
The most common use for calipers is to verify snowboard core thickness when profiling the Z-Plane of a snowboard core. Again if you buy pre-made cores you won’t have to worry about this.
Brass Wire Wheel Drill Bit
A small wire wheel bit is used to rough up steel edges to enhance adhesion and minimize the possibility of delamination.
A razor-tipped pen is used for fine cutting of paper, thin plastics, and more.
A French curve is a template made out of plastic, metal, or wood composed of many different curves. It is used to draw a smooth curve of varying radii.
A ruler that consists of a large arm and a smaller one, which meets at an angle of 90 degrees (a right angle).
Jigsaw or Band Saw
These saws are used for many steps in the snowboard building process. They are used to cut out the master template and are used after the snowboard has cured to trim the excess material off from around the snowboard. They are also used for cutting snowboard mold rails and the z-plane guide rails used for the router bridge method of snowboard core profiling.
Given the broad applications for a jigsaw/band saw you’ll want a wide assortment of blades.
Fine tooth wood blades for cutting MDF and Plastic
Course tooth wood blades for fast rough cuts
A ceramic blade or metal cutting blade for trimming excess material off of the snowboard after it has cured
A hand-held tool for cutting wood or other materials with a circular blade.
Tap Handle and Bottoming Tap
The tap handle and bottoming tap are used to fix minor damage done to the threading of the snowboard inserts. The insert damage is typically caused when drilling them out after the board has cured. It’s a good idea to tap every insert out of habit after drilling -doing this will also clean out any excess epoxy that may have crept into the insert.
The bottoming tap size you will need for snowboard inserts is 6 mm x 1mm
Sanding blocks are used to hold sandpaper sheets for hand sanding of the base or detail sanding of your MDF snowboard template edges.
Belt sanders are most useful for grinding out the excess material from around your snowboard after pressing that you could not get with the jigsaw.
Some snowboard builders also like to use a belt sander for base finishing instead of having their snowboard’s base ground at their local shop. Use caution when doing this if you leave a belt sander running in one place too long you can ruin your snowboard base or edges.
Palm/Sheet Sander (optional)
A palm/sheet sander is a step up from using sanding blocks for cleaning up the edges of your snowboard templates. It has more finesse than a belt sander so you do not have to worry as much about distorting your template shape.
The drawback to sheet sanders is that they oscillate to sand. This makes them unusable on the base of your snowboard. Using a sheet sander on your snowboard base will ruin the grain of your base.
Planer / Wide belt sander (both optional)
If you choose to make your own snowboard cores you need to plane the core blank after you’ve laminated the stringers together to achieve a uniform working surface for core profiling. These are appliance-style tools and can be very expensive.
Trim Router (aka Laminate Trimmer)
A trim router is a versatile mini-router used to clean edges and cut materials when making a snowboard. It is used for creating clean edges on snowboard cores, MDF molds, MDF snowboard templates, router bridge ribs, and cutting base material along the template.
Not all trim routers are suitable for snowboard building. Be sure the one you intend to use has a bearing roller guide attachment that allows for adjustments in trim depth. This allows for size variations relative to the original template. As an example when the snowboard core is being shaped it needs to be smaller than the other composite layers to allow them to wrap up the core and protect it from the elements. Having a roller attachment for the trim router allows you to easily shape a properly proportioned core.
Bottom Mounted Bearing Flush Trim Bit
A straight router bit with the bearing mounted at the bottom of the bit (furthest away from the router).
Top Mounted Bearing Flush Trim Bit
A straight router bit with the bearing mounted at the top of the bit (closest to the router).
A hand-held brush used to sweep derbies away.
19mm or ¾ inch Forstner Bit (optional)
A Forstner bit cuts precision flat bottomed holes with exceptionally smooth sidewalls. If you are making your own snowboard cores you use this bit to make the recessed hole that your insert foot sits in.
10 mm Brad Point Drill Bit (optional)
A drill bit with a center brad-point that allows accurate positioning and prevents skating while drilling snowboard insert holes in a snowboard core. This tool is not required unless you are making your own cores.
Countersink Drill Bit (3/4")
A countersink drill bit is used to create a tapered edge around a snowboard’s insert holes. Countersinking insert holes gives the snowboard a more professional ‘factory finished’ look.
Drill Bit (1/8")
Drill Bit (3/16")
Electric Drill and Stand or Drill Press (Stand and Drill Press optional)
For all snowboard builders, a drill is required to expose the insert holes of a snowboard after it’s been pressed.
A drill stand or drill press is used to ensure that inserts holes drilled into the wood core are perfectly vertical. If you are not building your own snowboard cores a drill stand or drill press is not needed.
Router and Wide Cutting Bit ~20mm (optional)
If you are making your own snowboard cores and if you choose to profile the z-plane of your cores using the router bridge method, then you will need a full-sized router and a wide-cutting bit.
45 Degree Angle Router Bit
Used to bevel the snowboard core for Cap Construction sidewalls
Metric Measuring Tape and Clear Metric Ruler
Snowboard specifications are metric by default (and it's better that way) so if you live in the US you should hunt down a metric measuring tape and clear ruler because you probably don’t have one. These will keep you from having to do a bunch of conversion calculations.
8' Straight Edge Ruler
An 8-foot long metal ruler is often used for drawing long lines.
A waxing iron is an iron that is used to melt wax onto the base of a finished snowboard. There are irons made specifically for ski and snowboard waxing but an old 2nd hand clothes iron will work. If you use a clothes iron try to get one without holes in the base and never fill it with water or use the steam feature. Also clearly mark it so you don’t ruin any clothes.
A wax scraper is a tool used to scrape the excess wax off of the base of the snowboard. Typically these are made out of plastic and are available from snowboard accessory vendors. Many feature a square edge notch to clean wax off of the steel snowboard edges.
Protective goggles or glasses.
Chemical Gloves (Fleece Lined)
Latex Gloves (Powder Free)
1/4 Vacuum Tubing
Vacuum Pressure Gauge
Epoxy Spreader (squeegee)
Vacuum Cup Assembly
Used to connect vacuum system tubing to vacuum bagging film.
The specialized air pump designed to draw a vacuum and run for extended periods of time. A vacuum pump is used when vacuum pressing a snowboard.
Respirator (Dust Mask)
A device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful dust, fumes, vapors, and/or gases.
A 'mini-router' device to cut, grind and polish.
Paint Roller Pan
Shears / Scissors
Used for cutting plastic sheets, fiberglass cloth, top sheet material, etc.
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