Longboarding has been a personal passion of mine since I got my first board in August of 2010. From cruising and carving to freestyle, board dancing, and a touch of freeride, I have experienced many of the types of longboard styles on my Landyachtz Battle Axe and Loaded Dervish Sama. 8 years after buying my first board, I embarked on my newest longboard adventure: building custom longboards from scratch.
More than a Board on Wheels
Unlike skateboards, longboards come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and flexes. Designing the Kimer longboards challenged me to take into account user experience, board riding style, and material strengths. The Horizon and α-Wave boards are made to be specifically for cruising and carving featuring a classic pintail shape with a mellow concave. The Origin was designed specifically for board dancing with a mellow concave, high flex, and gentle rocker.
Boards Aren't Flat
A common misconception about longboards is that they are almost all flat. Longboards actually have a concave running down the length of the board to help maintain comfort foot placement during riding. A foam mold of the board's final shape was hand carved out of high density foam. The mold contours were carefully measured and leveled in order to assure that proper board shape was achieved during glue-up.
Glue and Vacuum: The Power of Negative Pressure
In order to glue the 7 layers of 1/16in maple and bamboo veneers together into a solid board, each board was coated with glue and stacked inside the Roarockit TAP bag. This vinyl bag allowed for a vacuum to be drawn, compressing the veneer down onto the foam mold. Once under vacuum, the veneers were left to dry over a period of 24 hours before removing to draw out the final board shape to be cut.
Cut and Sand... and Sand...and Sand
With the board layout scribed onto the now pressed veneer board, the final board shape was cut out using a jigsaw. For each board, the edges needed to be refined by hand using an orbital sander. Once the desired shape was achieved, the whole board was sanded down smooth. For the Origin, wheel wells were carved into the bottom of the board in order to prevent "wheel bite", a scenario where one's wheels touch the board while in motion causing the board to abruptly stop.
Graphics Bring the Boards to Life
Each board was given unique, individually designed graphics and grip tape to finish off the build. Graphics were done using gel medium photo transfer techniques. This technique uses an acrylic gel medium to adhere the inked layer of paper to the board. Upon soaking the paper with water after the gel cures, the dissolved paper can be rubbed off, leaving the ink behind. The boards were clear coated with an oil based polyurethane before the custom grip tape was hand cut and applied.
Cruising to the Horizon
When the board decks were completed, they were outfitted with Paris 180 V2 trucks and wheels specifically chosen for campus cruising or dancing. As the boards were made with a combination of maple and bamboo, each board has a unique flex providing shock absorption when riding over cracks and energy return during carving. It will be exciting to see where these boards go as they cruise to the horizon!