For this build, I tried my hand at skateboard construction using some plywood and some other parts. I also decided to spice things up by making a land-paddle out of PVC piping. Land paddling is a variation of long boarding that utilizes a paddle for propulsion instead of the rider's foot.
Although the rubber piece that I used for traction turned out to be not very effective, I hope to experiment with other materials (ie. toilet plunger, bike tire, etc.) to find something with more grip. Of course, if you don't want to make the paddle, you are free to skip those steps and simply use the long board regularly.
Also you like this project, I'd appreciate your vote in the outdoor fitness challenge. Thanks :)
Step 1: Tools + Materials
- Band saw (or jigsaw)
- Table saw (or circular saw)
- Wood file
- Orbital Sander
- Carpenter square
- 3/4" Plywood (birch recommended)
- Longboard trucks and wheels (I got my set here)
- 3/4" PVC pipe plugs [x2]
- 3/4" PVC tee joint [x2]
- 3/4" PVC elbow joints [x2]
- 1/2" x 6" PVC pipe
3/4" x 60" PVC pipe
- Cheap massage roller (not the best source of traction)
Of course, this project could be accomplished in a variety of alternative ways. I am simply documenting the process that I personally used. Feel free to use other tools that you have on hand. For instance, I would encourage using a belt sander and a drill press if you have access to such tools.
Step 2: Planning the Design
Before you start cutting the wood, it's a good idea to make a few sketches. Determine the shape and dimensions of your long board. Longer deck length and wheelbase (distance between the trucks) provide greater stability at the cost of maneuverability. Check out this guide for more information.
Once you've decided on the specs, it's time to cut the plywood down to size. Using your proposed deck length and width, mark out the dimensions directly on the wood, then saw off the excess material with a table saw (or a handheld circular saw). Make sure to take into account the width of the saw blade.
Next, mark the center line of the board using a carpenter square and a meter stick. This will serve as a reference to ensure symmetry. As you draw out your design onto the plywood, constantly use your ruler to ensure that the shapes and lines on each side are equidistant from the center line. For curves, I just traced a couple round objects (ie. the lid of a jar) that were lying around the house, but a compass would be a better option if you have a specific radius measurement in mind. Keep in mind that concave curves with smaller radii will be difficult to cut out on the band saw.
Step 3: Cutting Out the Deck
Please be careful when operating power tools. Always wear appropriate eye protection and keep your fingers away from the blade. I would also recommend using a particulate respirator mask when working with wood.
As I mentioned earlier, use the table saw to cut the plywood down to the right dimensions. This will make the board easier to handle as you run it under the band saw.
With the band saw, slowly cut along the contours of your sketch, allowing the machine to do the work. A helpful tip is to cut lines perpendicular to the curve first (as depicted above). This will make your job a lot easier, especially for the concave sections. Remember that we are just cutting out the rough outline, so you don't have to get it perfect. Just make sure you stay outside the pencil lines, and sand down any excess material with a rasp afterward.
Step 4: Sanding and Drilling
This is the most time-consuming part of the process, so be patient. Use a rasp and file to refine the shape of the board. Depending on how well you did on the band saw, it may take a while to achieve a natural-looking outline. A file with a rounded side is extra handy for smoothing out concave curves. Remember to keep both sides as symmetrical as you can.
Next, chamfer the edges of the deck by repeatedly running the rasp lengthwise across the board. By varying the angle at which you hold the rasp, you will eventually be able to round out the sides. Use the file for the ends of the deck, since these will likely be too short to use the rasp on.
Once you are satisfied with your curves and chamfer, it's time to pull out the orbital sander. Make sure you have variety of sanding discs, so you can proceed from lower grits (coarser) to higher grits (finer). To save time, focus your efforts on the bottom of the deck, since the top will eventually be covered in grip tape anyway.
Before drilling out the mounting holes, it can be helpful to temporarily attach the trucks to the deck with double sided foam tape. This acts as a guide to keep the drill bit centered and aligned. As for the size of the drill bit, use something roughly equal to the thread diameter of your screws. If you have a drill press, I recommend countersinking the holes so that the screw heads lie flush on the board. Otherwise, you can use a large drill bit to achieve a similar yet cruder effect.
Step 5: Finishing
Perform this step in a well ventilated environment. You do not want to be inhaling a ton of chemicals.
Use an aerosol polyurethane spray to add a protective layer to your deck. I applied four light coats to the bottom side of the board, waiting about four hours in between coats. Make sure to double check the instructions for whichever product you decide to use.
Step 6: Griptape
Layout your board flat onto the grip tape. Use a screwdriver or some other long object to crease the sides. Doing this will make the cutting easier. Proceed to cut along the outline of the board with a sharp razor blade. Aim for a long smooth cut; it can take some practice to find the optimal angle at which to hold the blade. Since this was my first time, my cuts turned out pretty rough but I eventually got the hang of things. I used sandpaper to smooth out the edges.
Step 7: Assembling the Trucks and Wheels
Fasten the trucks to the deck using the screws and nuts. Note that long board trucks are oriented opposite than a regular skateboard. If you countersunk the holes, you should be able to get the screw heads to sit flush on the topside of the deck.
Place a washer, bearing, and spacer onto the axle (in that order). Push another bearing into one side of the wheel, then place the other side of the wheel onto the axle before pushing the entire assembly into place. This may take some strength or a rubber mallet. Finally add another washer and tightly screw in the end nut with a wrench (or a skateboard multi-tool if you have one). The assembly should be nice and tight with no lateral movement, and the wheels should spin smoothly.
Repeat this process for all four wheels.
Step 8: Constructing the Paddle (Optional)
Assemble the PVC pipes and joints as depicted above. One side will be used to push off the ground with while the other side acts as a handle.
For this step you may have to improvise a bit, so here are some tips:
- Use duct tape to increase the diameter of the pipes as necessary, in order to achieve a tight fit. PVC cement can be used if you really want to keep the parts secured together, but my paddle seemed to work fine without it.
- Use hacksaw to cut down the PVC pipes to the right length. When stood up vertically, the paddle should reach to about your chin's height.
- Get creative in finding a good material to grip the road. My massage roller provided some grip, but it would still slip a lot. Also after using it for a day, it seems to have already been worn down. I would suggest something more rubbery and durable. If you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments below.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my build process and I would love to see someone attempt their own version of this project. Thanks and don't forget to vote!
Runner Up in the
Outdoor Fitness Challenge