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San Diego Surfing Home > Surfing School > Shaping - Rail Shaping

Surfing School - Shaping - Rail Shaping

At this point, the final rail, nose, and tail design has been determined and the shaper again places the blank on edge in the shaping rack. Note that as the rail shape progresses, excessive downward force can cause the rail edge against the rack to scrape or deform. Therefore, go very easy with the pressure.

01Make only a couple of light passes with the planer first on the upper side of the rail to approximate the shape wanted. Use the second sanding block walking end to end to work down the rail to near the final shape. Lean the board the opposite direction in the rack and make a pass on the bottom edge of the rail to approximate the final shape. For a low rail design, this pass may not be necessary. Again make a couple of passes back and fourth with the second sanding block, this time on the lower edge. The rail edge will now look like Figure 01 with only a thin strip of the original outline cut still remaining. Repeat this process on the opposite rail.

The rails, and board, are now ready for final sanding. Hold a piece of sanding screen over the rail an walk the length a few times to finish smoothing. Use a rough screen first, then a fine screen. Repeat on the opposite rail. Lay the board flat and use the sponge sanding block and the fine screen in a slight circular motion to complete the sanding and shaping process. If any contour in the tail, nose, or bottom is desired, such as a concave, it is best to sand these out at the end and then perform the final sanding.

The last step is to smooth the stringer. By this time it is sticking up slightly from the blank on both sides. Use a very small (1 inch) hand plane with only one side of the cutting edge extending below the plane. Put this edge over the stringer and make a slow smooth pass the entire length. Make sure the only pressure down is over the cutting edge as it is very easy to scratch the blank at this point. Run your fingers along the stringer to ensure no bumps remain. If you do feel a bump or scratch the blank you must repeat the entire sanding process. Failure to remove this bump will cause the glass to be sanded through along the stringer after glassing.


When the blank has been shaped, it is vulnerable to both nicks and dirt or finger prints. Carefully place it in a plastic bag and place where it won't get bumped until ready for glassing. I like to use a wall rack as shown in Figure 02 for storing. These can be made with a 1" dowel and an eight foot 2"x4" cut in two.



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