Surfboard Shaping & Design for Beginners. A video from Pravda Surf. A Custom Surfboard Design Studio and Shaping Instruction place in Huntington Beach | 2006 | DVD | 96 minutes | includes templates
review by Art Goodwin
CoastalBC.com received a surfboard shaping instructional video for beginners from Pravda, and passed it on to me to check out, since I fit the bill as a beginner shaper. Pravda, in Southern California, is a "custom surfboard design studio" open to the public, where any stoked surfer can make their own board, using Pravda's workspace, tools, and knowledge. Good concept. They've also produced this video, which is for sale at
The DVD is packed with information, covering everything from tail and rail designs, to templating, to clearly laying out the tools you'll need to shape a board. It also comes with 15 templates you can print out (if you have Adobe Illustrator)... unfortunately, my computer wouldn't read the DVD, but my regular DVD player did.
The shaping section is split in two: one for polyurethane and one for EPS. Each type of blank is shaped by a beginner, start to finish, with an instructor guiding them and narrating the DVD. Rachel shapes a modern fish from polyurethane; Aaron shapes a retro fish from EPS. Having first-timers do the actual shaping is a cool idea, but as I watched their wooden, halting strokes with some of the tools (despite the often repeated instruction of "long, smooth, flowing..."), I thought the bad form might translate to the viewer. Of course, this is only a factor for those with limited experience with hand tools. The video did prove that you shouldn't let that inexperience stand in your way.
As far as the actual shaping instructions go, I was impressed. The people at Pravda were super thorough with each step, and clearly laid everything out. I shaped my first couple of boards with the help of the very popular Shaping 101 by John Carper, and noticed a big difference in the way the information was conveyed. Whereas JC seemed to be teaching as he went along shaping the board, even in voiceovers just basically winging it with the instructions, it was obvious that the Pravda guy was reading from a carefully written script. This ensured nothing was left out, and each step was explained clearly, at the cost of the guy sounding like a kid in grade 4 reading in front of the class. Another advantage over Shaping 101 is the inclusion of bottom contours (concaves, etc). JC leaves it out, and Pravda covers it nicely.
Besides the questionable tool-handling (tight, double-fisted grip on the surform), the only other thing that I might change is their rail band explanation. It comes off as way more complicated than it is with all the numbers and diagrams. Some of those diagrams seemed crammed on a regular screen. If you're rockin' a 56 inch HD, then I guess this won't be a problem for you. Also, they opt to do three bands, whereas JC (a master shaper) says he dropped that practice years ago and uses two. I think two works fine and simplifies the process.
Overall, this is a great instructional video, and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone thinking of making their first board. Everything the first-time shaper needs to know has been included in clear detail. Every surfer should shape and ride their own board at least once; it's an amazing feeling to catch that first wave with your own creation. Pravda have done their part to get you there.