Shaping surfboard rails—hand me a beer please!
I love every aspect of shaping except turning the rails.
Not only are they tedious, but you got to do them twice and try and get them symmetrical.
A buddy of mine once told me to take a finished board with rails that I like and use them as a template. He recommended cutting out some foam and shaping the rail into the foam and then to use that foam template to guide the shaping process. I thought it was great advice, but three years later I still haven’t done it.
Rails, I really dislike them.
I still use the same technique for shaping surfboard rails that I leaned about a decade ago in JC’s shaping DVD. I make two rail bands, one 2 inches from the edge and another 4 inches. Then I mark three spots on the rail itself, all between 1 and 1.25 inches from the bottom. Then I use my planner to shape those bands into the deck, here is the process in more detail:
10-Step Process For Shaping Surfboard Rails
- Determining Your Rail Dimensions
- Marking Deck Bands
- Marking Vertical Band Points
- Connecting the Dots
- Cutting the Bottom Band
- Cutting the Primary Deck Band
- Cutting the Secondary Deck Band
- Blending the Bands
- Screening the Rails
- Open Beer
(we got a rad link to a detailed look at this process at the end of the article, keep reading)
Scientific? Hardly, but kinda,
I wish they had a CNC machine just for shaping surfboard rails, I would buy it for sure.
Or even better, I wish there were dudes that just did rails and you could open up the yellow pages and look for them just like you look for a plumber. For $40 you could call them up and they would come over and finish your rails.
But no such luck, just me and my tools and those damn rails.
I did some research on rails, surfline says, “visualize and plan how much of the middle part of the rail you will leave untouched.”
How about the whole rail?
I should try that, make a board with no rails . . . I wonder?
Ok, that is a ridiculous idea but I had to say it.
Back to visualizing I guess, here is the Surfline article if you want to check it.
In another article Greenlight Surf Supply has decided to just simplify rails and suggests that there are only two: boxy and knifey.
Dudes, I wish it were that simple.
But I get where they are coming from, essentially what they are saying is that a knify rail cuts into the wave and a boxy rail floats on top of the wave.
Ok, I get that and agree.
Some Advice From Rusty ‘The Expert’
Rusty also breaks shaping surfboard rails down into two types, 50/50 and down-turned.
Finally, someone gives some riding advice.
Rusty says about the 50/50, “this type of rail lacks a sharp edge on the bottom, water can more freely flow out from the bottom of the board as you plane down the face of the wave. This buoyancy and a lack of edge make a board with rounder (50/50) rails much harder to maneuver.”
He goes on to talk about the down-turn’s sharp edge, “holds through into the tail and helps to capture the flow of water from the nose and keep it underneath the board so that it creates lift as it runs against the fins in a tighter manner.”
Bravo Rusty, you-da man.
Watch this video as he schools us on tail shapes and rail design.
Rail Design Pictures here
Ok that it for now, go get yourself a blank and try one yourself.
P.S. For a more detailed look at the 10-step process for shaping surfboard rails above read this post.
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