A Change is as Good as a Rest: Chris and Phil’s Wooden Surfboard Workshop Experience

26 . 05 . 21

Last week we were joined here in the Otter workshop by Chris and Phil who came to make their own sustainable wooden surfboards, Chris made a 6’4 Woodeburner and Phil made a 7’2 Coaster. Here’s a round up of how the week played out behind our blue doors.

Phil joined us from East London where he works as a software developer, and having worked all the way through lockdown, making a wooden surfboard with us had been a light at the end of the tunnel for him and was his first break in two years. We felt slightly guilty knowing that the 5 days of making can feel quite busy, being on your feet for most of the time, but during the first of many tea breaks outside, we discussed change being as good as a rest. This phrase definitely seemed apt for Phil as we continued into the week and cropped up more than once.

At the end of day one, Phil put out a survey to his friends on social media about which finish to have on his surfboard: matt or gloss? This is always a hot topic during a workshop week, and it was the first time it was taken to an online debate. We all have our opinions here about which finish looks cooler, and it’s always fun to be a part of any indecisiveness that occurs, but both Phil and Chris were set on their decisions, with the online results matching their original choices. Matt won the day!

It was awesome for us to be able to welcome more new people into the workshop, this being our second making experience of the year, and we are well and truly back to doing what we love after the restrictions that everyone has been affected by. It felt great to be able to offer Chris and Phil the opportunity to step away from their busy lives and get stuck in to a week of making.

Chris joined us from Shropshire where he works as a tree surgeon. He had been gifted the workshop experience as a 40th birthday present and was stoked to mark this milestone by making his own wooden surfboard. Despite working closely with wood as a profession, Chris had never done any fine woodworking, mentioning that it was nice to not be wearing ear defenders all the time. As the week progressed, he really embraced working with his hands in a different way, enjoying the more intricate processes, which was lucky as the woodburner has a fish tail which can be tricky to shape well.

One of the things we love most about our workshop experiences is getting to know people as we guide them through the making process. There were plenty of opportunities for this throughout the week as we shared stories and laughs during tea breaks, lunch at the beach and an impromptu evening pizza party. Both workshoppers joining us from completely different backgrounds gave even more life to our busy workshop, and we really enjoyed learning about Phils experience in London and sharing woodland knowledge with Chris.

With more wooden surfboards now out in the world there is also another connection between us as people who wouldn’t otherwise have met, we are looking forward to sharing some waves when Chris and Phil return to pick up their finished boards!  

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