Friday, June 19, 2009

David Platt's Balsa Pig!!

David Platt from the East coast of Australia sent me this via .
Thank you David! Amazing!

"Hi gnar gnar. My name is David Platt. I live on the New South Wales Central Coast, 100ks Nth of Sydney on Australias East coast. Thought you may be interested in a balsa pig I made in 2005.

This board was originally going to be made out of recycled Western Red Cedar. As old outdoor furniture supplies were drying up and end grain balsa was increasingly being thrown out at work. I decided to use the balsa and have three cedar stringers. End grain balsa isn’t the ideal balsa to build a board from but as it was free and with a little work I thought I could make it work.I use to work for a luxury motor yacht builder. Building 75' to 140' one offs. We used end grain balsa at work as a core material in the hulls and decks we builtWe had a lot of off cuts and scrap, which gets thrown out. I've been retrieving it from the garbage and stock piling it at home. It comes in sheets about 1.5 metres by 1.0 metres in varying thicknesses. I used 50mm thick balsa.The problem is the grain on the sheets runs top to bottom. On a board you need the grain running the length of the board. So I had to mill the sheets into 150mm by 150mm (6"X 6") blocks and glue them end grain to end grain 20 at a time in a jig I made up to clamp them in. In all there are 240 blocks. Plus 3 x 3/4"cedar stringers. It wasn't too bad to shape. I used an electric plane to remove the bulk and hand planes and sanding boards to do the rails. Because the density of the balsa varies a bit I found that I was getting a high spot when I had a piece of higher density balsa sandwiched between two lower density pieces.The center stringer was cut out on a CNC milling machine. This gave me an exact rocker to work to. The rocker was taken from my 9'6" old school longboard and stretched 4". I wanted a thinner tail with a little more bottom curve through the tail. Having the shaped stringer to work to was a great help. The dimensions 10’ x 23" x 17 ½" nose x 17 ½" tail x 3 ". The wide point is 12" behind the center and runs for a further 6". The thickest point is forward of center, where you would stand when trimming the board. As mentioned earlier the rocker was taken from my 9’6".The blank was a Surfblanks Aust . I think it was called the 63 rocker for old school boards. The plan shape was drawn up on AutoCAD 2000. To my design. Then a template was cut. I have changed the last 2'of the tail. Added a little more curve. Similar to the Bing No445 I restored. This is the first board I have shaped in close to 30 years so there are some areas, which are a little, dodgy. All up I’m very happy with the shape considering my lack of shaping experience.The shaped blank was sealed with one coat of Vinylester resin. A laver of 10oz Volan on each side using Vinylester resin. With cut laps. The hotcoat and gloss were regular surfboard resin. I ended up putting a 10" finbox in the board. I didn’t want to set a fin and find that it didn’t work. This way I can play with fins and positions and once happy then think about setting a fin.The finished board is very heavy as expected. 25kg / 50lb. But it is surprising how light and responsive it is in the water. Very easy to turn and trims like a battle ship. I need more time to get use to it but if feels as if it will be a good nose rider.
Regards David.


  1. That's killer. I love the matter-of-fact no big deal tone in this one. Yea, just had some balsa... from custom yacht building, had to mill it crossways and upside down, you know how it is. Then you see the thing and holy shit, look at that foil shot! Well done sir.

  2. dave is an incredible craftsman. i've ridden this board. it was a rare privilege & pleasure.