With COVID-19 putting a halt to all travel plans, I’ve been missing the beach and the opportunity to surf and skate (I’m currently in the English countryside where it’s wet and disgusting… skating on wet mud isn’t too fun), so I thought I’d give myself a little project and figure out how to build a balance board!
I have a wonderful Revolution 101 board back in America (it was too heavy to bring in my luggage) and I’ve really been missing my daily balance sessions – I was getting to the point where I could almost walk up and down the board and hang ten on the end – and so, instead of spending money I really don’t have on another board, I figured that it can’t be too hard to make one myself!
After a bit of googling for measurements (and help from my handy carpenter BF) I made a list of the materials I would need and set about gathering them all together.
You will need:
- 3/4inch (18mm) hard plywood. 5 ply is best.
- Extra pieces of scrap wood for the stoppers (if you want stoppers!)
- 100-125mm (4-5 inch) diameter PVC pipe, 18 inches long
- Grip tape/adhesive cork/anti-slip material
- Saw (an electric jigsaw would be ideal)
- Paint (if you want to decorate your board)
- Wood stain/protector
The size of your plywood will depend on the size and shape of the board you want to make. As I was modelling mine on the Revolution 101 board, I went with a pre-cut piece from B&Q that was 30 x 15 inches but it would be cheaper to purchase a large plywood sheet and cut it down to size if you have the right tools.
I detailed my whole process over on Instagram – here are the steps that I took to get my end result, which I’m really happy with (ignore the numbers on the images):
- Gather materials
- Decide on a shape. I drew out a couple of ideas and then went with the one I liked the most – I created a template so that each corner would be (roughly) the same.
- Get your tools together and start cutting. This is where I wished I had an electric jigsaw!
- Cut off your corners/create your shape and then get sanding!
- Cut small pieces from scrap wood for your stoppers. Mine were approx 4 x 1.5 inches but they can be whatever you like. I put them approx 2.5 inches from either end.
- If you want to decorate your board, now’s the time to do it. I did a freehand drawing on the underside and painted some fun coloured stripes on the top.
- Coat your board in wood protector or wood stain if you are wanting to add a darker colour. I used a clear wood protector just to give it a nice coat over my designs. Now be patient and let it dry properly!
- Add your grip/non-slip tape. I chose a self-adhesive coarse grip tape but if I was to do this again I might use cork sheeting or those non-slip strips you get for the bath instead. *Note to self – buy enough tape next time!
- I found it really difficult to source the correct pipe for the roller and the first one I bought was far too thin so it just didn’t hold its shape when I stood on the board. Make sure you find super thick pipe – I’d recommend going to a plumbing store or somewhere like that. You can also use a high density foam roller but the board doesn’t roll as well as on plastic.
- While I was waiting for the correct pipe to arrive I decided to cut a handle into the side. Again an electric jigsaw would have made life much easier here! I ended up just drilling lots of holes until I could pop the piece out.
- Sand, sand sand! I got a bit obsessive about sanding the handle – although it’s VERY smooth now!
And there you have it! One handmade balance board. It’s not perfect but for my first one (and with limited tools) I’m very pleased. And for a total of £28 (£14.99 for the wood, £3 for the grip tape, £10 for the pipe) I’ve also saved myself a LOT of money – most of the balance boards I was finding online range from anywhere between £70 -£150.
I really enjoyed the whole process – so much so that I think I’m going to make a few more and try out different shapes and sizes. Now there’ll be no excuse for bad balance when I finally (hopefully) get back to surfing in Costa Rica in February!