What began as a woodworking hobby quickly became a passion to build quality sustainable products with less impact on the environment. Eight years and several splinters later, Westside Boards has evolved into a company that combines function and style with the art of board building to produce high quality surf inspired products.
The wood we use in our handplanes comes from Pawlonia trees, that can help to prevent damage to eco-systems. Pawlonia absorbs 10 times more CO2 than any other tree species. When the tree is cut down for harvesting, it regrows from the stump leaving the root system intact. Each tree can regrow 4-6 times.
That’s a tough question, as I can’t imagine not doing what I’m doing. I’ve had many odd occupations from gas station attendant to talent manager, but none of them have given me the freedom to create sustainable, functional products, while simultaneously being able to express my creativity.
I’ll tackle the last part of that question because I’m still trying to figure out who exactly led me down this path of no return of being a “craftsman”. Inspiration wise“Every artist was first an amateur” Ralph Waldo Emerson
In many ways I’m still an amateur woodworker. I’ve definitely made strides in many aspects of it, but like foreign languages or playing an instrument, I question if I’ll ever fully master it.
Those that I look to for inspiration are too many to name. For the purposes of this feature, I’ll name a few:
+Danny Hess (@dannyhess)- originally a SoCal native, his passion and creativity have inspired many of my decisions.
+Ed Lewis (@enjoyhandplanes) in many ways the grandfather of modern handplanes, his continual strive for sustainability is one that I’m always chasing or trying to beat.
+George Rocha (@iris_skateboards) I mean holy sh*#! What he’s done for the recycled skateboard movement can not be understated - this guy started a movement that gets copied everyday and no one even comes close.
Well…There’s probably a few steps I’ll leave out, but the short version is that a typical handboard takes about 2-3 weeks to shape and finish from start to finish.
The long version is: The wood gets cut, glued and planed. The shape is cut and our custom walnut strap plugs are inlaid. From there the board is handshaped without power tools using spokeshaves, handplanes, sanding blocks and sandpaper. Once that process is done and I’m satisfied with the shape, then the board gets sealed, tinted with our custom color process and then receives 4-6 sprayed coats of eco-friendly, water and UV resistant clear coat per side. After it cures for a week, the board is ready for the water.
So, I kind of fall somewhere in the middle of the whole let’s not name names mindset. That being said, 7 years ago I made a conscious decision to name our handplane models after the local breaks they were specifically shaped and intended for. The Dredge, Solimar and Little Rincon are all well known spots and offer up different wave types that are kind of universal from shore pound to reef break. Ventura is also pretty tight knit surfing wise, so it’s kind of hard to hide spots or keep them to yourself when it’s “on” it’s kind of more about timing.
Only 3? I’ve got a long list but here’s the top 3 for this month:
Well, hopefully this whole volume discussion ends sometime soon.
But other than that, I think (and hope) we’re going to continue to see a real shift to more long-term sustainable (there’s that word again) eco-friendly materials for surfcraft as well as support for local based shapers who can provide the best shapes for the waves that you’ll be riding 90% of the time.