by Michelle Michalak August 07, 2018

The Bodysurfing/Handboarding community is a tight-knit group, and Slyde has been paling around with Adam West from Westside Boards since the OG Handplane Hoedown days.

Adam's a brilliant craftsman based out of Ventura, CA with a cool story worth sharing...

TELL US A BRIEF HISTORY ON THE BRAND HOW IT CAME TO BE…

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.

WORK WISE, IF YOU WEREN’T BUILDING Westside Boards WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?

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.

Who inspired you to become a craftsman?  Who do you look to for inspiration in your current day to day?

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.

Take us thru a brief overview of the process in making  a handplane? - supplies, tools, skills, timeline

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.

 What are 3 things that make Westside Boards unique?

  • Sustainability
  • Creativity
  • Craftsmanship

    Where’s your favorite local surf break? Where’s on your bucket list?

    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.

    As far as my bucket list goes: 

    • Point Panics
    • Teahupoʻo
    • And finding a wave that hasn’t been discovered yet and that no one will ever ride again

    If you could ride a party wave with 3 people who would you choose and why?

    Only 3? I’ve got a long list but here’s the top 3 for this month:

    • Mark Cunningham - no explanation needed - the dude is a dolphin
    • Keith Malloy - for all that he has contributed to the Torpedo People movement
    • Hopefully someone that “A Walk on Water” is working with who’s never whomped before - because seeing their face on that first good wave puts everything in perspective.

    Any trends or predictions you see for the surf industry in 2018?

    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.

    Check out more Westside Boards HERE→

    Westside Boards Wooden Handplanes

    Michelle Michalak
    Michelle Michalak

    Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.


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