Crafting in Covent Garden

08 . 11 . 13

Last weekend we temporarily relocated our workshop.  For one day, on Saturday, we did what we normally do and covered the floor with sawdust whilst guiding a lovely group of people through the stages of creating their own bodysufing handplane, but in the Patagonia Store in Covent Garden, London, rather than at our workshop in Cornwall.  Ben and his team had very kindly cleared a space for us amongst their winter surf range and “heritage collection” and we transformed two of their packing stations into workbenches for the day to bring a bit of what we do to London.

At 10am we welcomed our group for the day: Grant from Ireland, Alex, journalist James Stewart and his friends Heather and Christina from the London Surf Club, Riz Smith from Riz Boardshorts and Celestyna and David from the Patagonia store who came back into work on their day off to join us.  Everybody attending had ordered their handplane blank in advance so that they could have their choice of timber lay-up, and first things first we distributed the prepared blanks to their new owners.  We had a bag full of templates, some of which were tweaked and adjusted to suit personal preferences, whilst Riz volunteered to try out a new shorter and slightly wider template that we’ve been working on which he dubbed “The Pebble”.  Once templates were drawn onto the blanks everybody used Japanese pull-saws to cut out their shape and then were shown how to use a surform to carefully work their shape back to the line of the template.  The whole time that we were working away the bodysurfing movie “Come Hell Or High Water” played on loop on a screen behind us, keeping everybody’s stoke levels high and providing us with a great soundtrack to whittle along to.

With everybody’s handplanes taking shape. we broke for lunch and headed around the corner to Benugo’s (on the corner of Long Acre and Bow Street) for sandwiches and coffee before heading back to work.  We were joined at this point by photographer Gary Moger (who’s been documenting the making of our first Seadar mini-simmons surfboard with James) who very kindly took these photos for us.  James demonstrated how to use the surforms, Japanese saw rasp and decreasing grades of abrasive paper to shape and then fine-tune the rails of their handplanes.  This part’s important not only so that the handplanes can bite into the wave face and aid turning, but also so that the front doesn’t send a wave of spray into the user’s face.  Once everybody had shaped down their rails and sanded their handplanes smooth, James fitted our up-cycled straps for those who wanted them (they’re made from reclaimed car seatbelts and padded with wetsuit offcuts by Malcolm at Snugg) and then showed everybody how to oil and care for their new creation.

With everybody’s handplanes completed, we lined up for a photo outside the front door of the store and then Riz very kindly distributed some custom made bags for everybody to take their handplanes home in.  He’d made each one from offcuts left over from the production of his boardshorts, thus finding a practical use for the offcuts from his creations just as we always strive to do so with ours.  We really hope that everybody enjoyed the day as much as we did, and would like to thank Ben and his team at the Patagonia store for their hospitality.  If any of you are interested in joining us to create your own bodysurfing handplane then our next workshop day will run on Saturday November 23rd back here in Cornwall, or on March 1st if you want to treat somebody for Christmas.  Click here for more details.

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