Thomas Bexon is a surfboard builder out of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Focused on building things at a young age, shaping surfboards became a natural progression for Thomas. Now, Thomas shapes in a garden shed, where he creates an array of not only functional surf craft, but also aesthetically pleasing board with unique and colorful glass work. In this interview, we find out a little more about Thomas’s inspirations and influences behind his shaping efforts.
What was the first board you shaped? How’d it work?
I thought it went good at the time, and I’d like to think it still does. It was a 7-something, square tail, egg that had no rocker at all and soft as 50 /50 rails. Ah, how things get refined.
photo: nicole gozzer
How did you get started in board building? Did you have a mentor who guided you? Or did you learn on your own?
I couldn’t find what I wanted and I have always liked playing and building. I guess it’s nice to know how and why things work and to try and make things go better. Paul Carson showed me a lot. I also got some good insight by Mick Hooper and Hayden. Shaping away from home gives you a nice insight in how other people build boards. I am still learning everyday. That’s what keeps it interesting. I also got a lot of inspiration from Wegener and watching emerging logging movies.
photo: nicole gozzer
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Surfing the one that is for me and does exactly as I hoped and expected. It’s pretty nice knowing at the end of the day my jobs’ main aim and if I do it right, it is making people happy doing something they love.
Where do you look for inspiration for new shapes and designs?
Everywhere and anywhere. I can’t help looking at boards old, new, shit, good. There’s something nice in all of them, surfing…
Was there a deciding factor that helped change board building from hobby to a job?
About three or four years ago real. I always had a back up plan that I thought I was going to end up doing but then one day I snapped and went fuck it, I’m doing this. There were many years of part time jobs and uni semesters spent surfing.
Has making boards for a living changed your perception on the craft? Or has it enhanced it?
Enhanced for sure, and changed. I learned so much about the craft itself and the industry around it. A good board done well takes a lot of time and it’s nice touching the board at every stage along the way.
Are there any types of boards that have been catching your eye or that you have been focusing on improving lately?
Spoons are rad, just from a craft point of view, old longboards that were peaking before the saw found the nose always get my attention. Pretty much anything done well, except white bread shortboards…just can’t get into it.
You have some pretty unique glass work. Talk about your glassing process and why the colors and designs you create with the glass job? Just an extension of the art?
Ha, yeah it’s art. We have just be taking our time and bouncing ideas. I think it pays to have time to spend getting them right, look at old ideas that have been done before and put twist on them. If you’re going to have a surfboard, it might as well look good and be done as good as possible. I just can’t dig free lap colours.
Tell us about the factory that you build your boards in and the history behind it.
I was at the Hayden factory for a while. A lot of rad surfboard history happened there. They were testing at Noosa and going back and playing with shit there or the guys that were working there, McTavish, Greenough, Platt, and many more. That was really cool being there for a while. Now I’m Thomas Surfboards and own little shed. It’s literally a garden shed and a shipping container. But it does the job so well. Perfect size for two people to work on a low number of boards and get them done real good.
Any suggestions for someone looking start shaping boards?
Trial and error. Anyone that is willing to give tips. And just watching people to pick up tricks etc.
For more of Thomas’ boards, check out http://thomassurfboards.com/