After you’ve been surfing for a while and have spent some time shopping surfboards and learning about their many features, you’ll probably start thinking about making your own board.
It can be a great way to get your own custom board without spending a fortune, and building your own surfboard is also a fantastic way to show off to your fellow surfers.
But how much does it cost, how much money will you save, and is it worth the hassle?
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How Much Does it Cost to Build Your Own Surfboard?
Making your own board isn’t just about grabbing a foam blank, picking up some epoxy, and then experimenting for a few hours.
If you want a professional board, you need to replicate the process used by professional shapers, and that means buying equipment such as:
- A Face Mask (there’s going to be a lot of foam dust flying)
- A Sander
- A Planer
- Some Epoxy Resin
- A Handsaw
- Fin Boxes
- Latex Gloves
- Paint Brushes
- Stir Sticks and Measuring Buckets
- Masking Tape
- A Leash Plug
- Fiberglass Cloth
- A Squeegee
The cost of these tools can vary from around $100 to $200 depending on their quality and where you buy them.
You will also need a foam blank, which could cost you anywhere up to $250 but is also available for as little as $60 to $70.
All things considered; homemade boards cost anywhere from $160 to $450 depending on the quality of the materials that you buy.
That’s certainly a lot cheaper than the average surfboard, and it means you can spend less than a budget board and potentially get something on par with a performance board.
However, there is one more thing to consider when you’re making your own board.
Labor Costs When Making Your Own Board
Your job, your skillset, and the speed at which you learn will ultimately determine how expensive it is to make your own board.
It could take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours for an inexperienced shaper to build a board.
There is a lot of preparation and learning, as well as many hours of sanding.
If you’re a freelancer/contractor earning $50 an hour with as much work as you want, it means that you could be losing anywhere from $500 to $750 in earnings just to build your board.
With the initial equipment costs on top, that “cheap” board has just cost you close to $1,000.
Even if you’re a salaried worker on $20 an hour, it still means that you could be throwing anywhere from $200 to $300 of your time at that board.
And that’s assuming that you get it right.
If you make any mistakes with the epoxy resin and damage the foam blanks, you may have to buy some additional supplies and discount the time you spent to that point.
Of course, if you’re retired, out of work, or just looking for some productive ways to use your downtime, it’s a different story.
But you still have to ask yourself if it’s worth devoting several hundred bucks and 10+ hours to such a project.
How Much Does a Surfboard Blank Cost?
As noted above, the price of surfboard blanks can vary considerably.
For your first board, you might opt for a relatively inexpensive option.
You want something that you can experiment with, something that won’t leave you out of pocket if you do something wrong.
Fish surfboard blanks are good options when you don’t want to spend too much cash, as you can pick one up for between $70 and $90, with the price usually dependent on the size, as well as the quality.
As you learn more about the craft, you can experiment a little more with high-quality EPS blanks, longboard blanks, and hybrid blanks, some of which will set you back up to $250.
Check the Surfboard Market
If you’re an experienced surfer with some free time on your hands and a passion for making things, you should definitely look into shaping your own board.
If you’re inexperienced, it’s better to visit your local surf shop or shop online to find a suitable board.
It will be a more expensive option, but it’s also a much easier one.
As you shop, you will learn more about surfboards and the materials/methods used in their manufacture.
When you have bought a few, used a few, and watched your favorite boards come to the end of their life, you will have accumulated some maintenance and tinkering skills.
At that point, it makes more sense to start thinking about crafting your own board.
Until then, swap the foam blanks, fiberglass cloth, fin boxes, and messy garage for a clean, colorful, and brand-new board.
How Much Money Can You Make Shaping Surfboards?
It depends on how much work you get and how many hours you work.
Most shapers can expect to earn between $25,000 and $40,000 a year, which is a very respectable pay.
If you’re just looking to shape part-time and are more interested in using it as a side hustle, you’ll need to think about whether or not you’ll actually get the clients and the work.
You can’t just announce that you’re a shaper working 5 to 20 hours a week and then expect someone to fill those hours for you.
It takes time to build up a reputation and acquire clients, and unless you’re living in a remote location, you’ll probably be competing with full-time shapers who have more experience than you.
Summary: Making Your Own Boards
The materials needed to make your own board will cost you up to $450 on average.
If you shop around, salvage parts, and buy some used options, you may be able to save some cash without sacrificing quality.
In any case, it’s much cheaper than buying a board from the local surf shop.
The problem is that it can take many hours to prep and manufacture that board, and for some people, that can lead to an additional expense that will potentially cost more than buying an off-the-shelf board or even a custom board.