Why Wood? Part 4: Locally Grown

02 . 08 . 23

Welcome to part 4 of our ‘Why Wood’ series of articles, explaining our reasons for using this wonderful material to make our wave-craft…

Locally Grown

We don’t simply make surfboards out of wood, we make surfboards out of wood that we know to be sustainably harvested from a regenerative woodland.

I was studying a degree in furniture design and making at Plymouth University and spent all my time outside of the workshop exploring the South-West, sleeping in the car and surfing as much as I could, when I came across the idea of making a wooden surfboard. In 2008, there was an issue of The Surfer’s Path called ‘The Wood Issue’ and it lit a fire in me. It was one of those ‘how did I not think of this sooner?’ moments. A wooden surfboard to replace my foam board that was deteriorating all too quickly.

From there, I looked into what species grew in the South-West that would be suitable to making a surfboard from and it turns out that locally, there are two species that lend themselves; Western Red Cedar and Poplar.

I began finding local suppliers and sawmills who would let me know where the timber was harvested and led me to understand that cedar was much more commercially viable and available than poplar, so the first dozen or so surfboards were made almost entirely from cedar grown in Cornwall.

It soon became apparent though, that although I could get timber from Cornwall, the consistency in the quality of the cedar didn’t always lend itself to the application of making surfboards. Timber that might be great for cladding (cedars more common application), doesn’t necessarily make for great surfboards; because I was processing the timber into relatively thin and long sections, any flaws (normally by way of knots) would cause breakages and therefore wastage. So the way to reduce the wastage from our process would be to find cleaner, more consistent timber.

I widened my net.

I asked a few of my friends, from time spent timber framing, who they knew who could supply good quality, locally grown cedar. This is how I found Nick, from Stourhead Western Estate in Wiltshire…

Look out for part 5 coming soon!

Check out any parts of the series you missed:

Part 1: Performance

Part 2: A Personal Connection

Part 3: Stewardship of The Land

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