How To Make A Chambered Hollow Wood Surfboard

Making a chambered wooden surfboard is not as hard as you think it would be! Using Australian grown Paulownia (hardwood), you eliminate the need for any fibreglass and resin – avoiding nasty chemicals and saving you money at the same time.  Paulownia is a timber similar in weight to balsa, but much stronger. Balsa boards are usually not strong enough on their own, so they need to be glassed like a normal foam board.

Step 1 : Design your board – you can copy a board you already own or design your own template in a free software program such as AKU Shaper, BoardCAD or Shape3d.

Step 2 : The first thing you need to do is determine the rocker of your board. You can print the rocker template from the abovementioned shaping programs.

Step 3 : Trace the rocker onto each piece of timber

Step 4 : Cut the rocker template out with a jigsaw or bandsaw, being sure to cut at least ¼ inch outside of the guidelines to allow for shaping.

Step 5 : Spot glue each piece of wood with normal wood glue or PVA glue. You only need a small amount of glue (the size of a 20c piece) every 12 inches or so. This glue is just to hold the wood together while you shape the board.

Step 6 : Clamp the pieces together with even pressure along the length of the whole blank. Try and minimise any gaps in between pieces. You may need to clamp the blank in stages and do just a few pieces at a time.

Step 7 : Once the glue is set, you have a blank ready to shape. Trace your outline template onto the blank.

Step 8 : Cut the outline with a jigsaw, again ensuring you cut outside of the lines.

Step 9 : Clean up any bumps in the outline with a belt sander or planer.

Step 10 : Shape board as you would a foam board – our instructional videos show you how from start to finish.

Step 11 : Once you are happy with your shape, you will need to break the blank apart again, being careful not to damage the wood. Use some off cuts or spare pieces of wood and gently bang the outside piece near the glue spot. Continue until the blank is completely broken apart into its original pieces.

Step 12 : Now you can draw your chambers onto the individual pieces in preparation for chambering. There are many different shapes and sizes of chambers to choose from. The more wood you remove, the lighter your board will be.  Remember to keep more support under areas of high stress where your feet and knees will be hitting the board. The minimum thickness of the deck and bottoms skins should be at least 6-10mm. The bottom skin can be thinner as there is less force being applied to this area when surfing.

Step 13 : When you have your chambers drawn on the timber, you can cut them out using a router, hole saw or spade bit on a drill or even a jigsaw if you are using thinner pieces of timber. Remember not to chamber where you will be installing your fins so you have a solid anchor point for the fin boxes.

Step 14 : Once you are happy with the chambering, glue the pieces back together permanently using marine grade epoxy glue. Apply glue to the whole surface making sure not to leave any dry spots. You can score lines in the wood along the join (but away from the deck and bottom) with a screwdriver or chisel which will allow glue to seep in and create a stronger join.

Step 15 : When clamping be careful not to damage the timber as you will now be clamping curved rails. You can also use old bicycle inner tubes to clamp around areas where the nose and tail curves do not allow the clamps to sit. Wipe any excess glue from the joins.

Step 16 : Once glue is set, clean up any bumps and sand joins flush if they are not perfectly aligned.

Step 17 : Finish sanding board back to 800 grit and it is ready for sealing.

Step 18 : You can seal the board with epoxy resin, marine varnish or any other wood sealing product. Oil finishes are not recommended on hollow boards as water may seep into the chambers and make your board heavier.

Step 19 : Install a vent and/or vented leash plug to regulate the air pressure and avoid expanding air from airline travel or hot temperatures busting your board open. Install fin boxes.

Step 20: Surf it!!

16 thoughts on “How To Make A Chambered Hollow Wood Surfboard

  1. These are fantastic instructions what happened to the photos and the link to the video. And do you supply thinner lengths of timber to make it easier to cut out- Charlie

    1. Hi Charlie,
      Not sure why those images floated away into cyber space but they are back now! In response to your query regarding thinner timber, we can source thinner lengths but due to the extra milling required it works out more expensive for the customer. If you would like us to give you a quote however, please feel free to send us an email on and we will help you out.
      Thanks, Nicola.

  2. So you don’t need to fiberglass it, is epoxy enough to waterproof it?

  3. I want to build a 10’6″ x30″ S.U.P. How much do you think the finished board will weigh ?( in pounds) The board will need a light glass job because it will also be used as a light wind sailboard .

  4. What will it cost for enough lumber to build a 10’6″x31″ stand up? It will have a lot of nose rocker more like a giant short board.

    1. Hi Rich, can you send us an email and phone number so we can discuss this more specifically with you? Thanks, Nicola. Email is

  5. Hey – Thanks for the awesome tutorial. I see that oil finishes are not recommended because they might allow water to seep into the chambers. However, is it possible to build such a board that would not leak? Are there any tips out there for those who would attempt an oil-only finish?

  6. I have been doing a lot of research on this style of wooden surfboards. This has helped me really work out the steps as well as help find a rocker design program. But I just have a quick question. I saw one bloke put expander foam in the routed out sections would this mean no air vent would be needed? And would it also enhance the performance of the board or just a waste of time?

    1. Yeah we’ve heard of people doing that but have never actually done it ourselves. In theory it should work and would add some buouancy but we haven’t found these booards needed the extra buouancy to be honest. Again in theory you’d think it would mean no vent was necessary. From a sustainable perspective though it’s not something we would do. However, we’d be interested to know how you get on if you do one yourself with the foam in the routed out sections!

      1. I don’t think it’s a good idea to put foam into the hollowed out parts of the board.

        Firstly, the foam will add weight to the board and actually decrease the buoyancy. The buoyancy of the board is equal to the volume of water that the board displaces minus the weight of the board (and the foam). Adding foam just adds weight (not much I guess) to the board without increasing the volume of the board itself and hence reduces the buoyancy by the weight of the foam.

        Secondly, if water does get into the board, it will be harder to dry out and be heavier. Hence less buoyancy again.

        Thirdly, there will be air in the foam and the board that will expand when it gets warm or goes in a plane, so a vent will still be needed to stop the air in the foam and air spaces from expanding inside the board and popping the skin off the frame.

        So there’s no real benefit in adding foam to the board, but there are some negatives.

        Hope this helps. Scott

      2. Adding foam over air will not add buoyancy. 30L is 30L, foam can make that more,more weight will make it sink more though.

  7. We are making two boards one with and one with out, I will let you you know how it works these are project boards so it might take a while. I also have another question on how the vents work. Do you drill holes through one section of web so the the air will travel through all the chambers?

  8. How long does it take to make one of these boards? Im a year 10 student and want to make one of these boards for tech project. I have access to all the tools needed and a bit of experience in shaping boards, but I only have 1 semester to make it…

  9. Hi,

    I’m looking at building a chambered redwood board. What glue do you use that is fully water proof.

    Thanks and your boards look unreal.

  10. This looks awesome, and i really want to build my own board… Thing is i live in Norway and i cant get a hold of paulownia wood. Any idea if baltic Birch might do the trick?

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