We make hollow, skin and frame wooden surfboards. They’re the product of the shared twin passions of surfing and fine woodworking that drive the workshop here with a strong nod to the planet that we live on.
Wooden surfboards stand separate from the vast majority of petro-chemical derived surfboards found bobbing in line-ups these days; they glide and carry their momentum along waves to help you draw smooth, graceful lines and flow through fat sections, they are designed and made in a way that ensures greater longevity allowing you to enjoy more waves with your surfboard and they look beautiful too, because we carefully hand select the planks we use and the way we glue them together to ensure we make the most out of the beautiful grains and natural patterns within the timber.
Wood has been a principal material in the construction of surfboards since ancient Hawaiians started to shape wave-riding tools. Here at Otter Surfboards we look back for inspiration to the construction techniques first pioneered by legendary waterman and surfboard designer Tom Blake in the 1930’s, whilst looking forwards towards a future of more considered and harmonious surf craft that enhance enjoyment and accessibility of waves by blending the best of old and new: Traditional materials and techniques with modern refinements and construction methods.
It's his name above the door. Otter Surfboards has evolved from James' desire to marry a passion for wood as a material with his passion for surfing in a search for a surfboard with a minimal environmental impact. With a background in designing and making award-winning furniture and building traditional timber framed structures, James turned his skills to crafting wooden surfboards and now building those, alongside running our workshops, has become his focus. James lives on the cliffs above the sea allowing him to check the waves on his way into the workshop each morning…sometimes arriving a little late with wet hair.
Chris originally came to us a few years ago on work placement from university where he studied contemporary crafts, and we've not let him leave since. He joins us in the workshop for a couple of days each week to help us turn raw planks of timber into the constituent parts for our surfboards, and uses the offcuts from our surfboards to produce our bodysurfing handplanes.
Chris works hard and surfs a lot in between, so is right at home here, and is the person in the workshop to ask if you're curious about what the surf's doing on the south coast.
Mat is our “Jack-of-all-trades”. He’s a photographer and writer so we retain him for a day or so each week to run all of our content marketing - he's the words and images guy here and is responsible for the way that Otter Surfboards looks and sounds. His background as a teacher of Design and Technology and hobbyist boat-builder also mean that when he’s done writing and capturing, he gets on the tools and lends his skills to our wooden surfboard building workshops. He also makes a great cup of tea, which is a necessary skill for working here.
Liz is the person who keeps everything at Otter Surfboards ship-shape and Bristol fashion. She is James' better half and looks after the admin here, making sure that all of the i's are dotted and t's are crossed.
Simon is a thoughtful, considered woodworker and he's the man we turn to when jobs start to stack up here at the workshop. He spends his weeks building timber-framed houses or standing waist deep in the water fly fishing, and we're grateful to be able to call on his skills when it gets busy around here.
Buddy supervises everything in the workshop from his sunny spot in the corner, and provides us with a good excuse to get some fresh air a few times a day when we take him for a run around the field.