How to Build a Mobile Surfboard-Building Classroom

The guys at Grain Surfboards are going mobile. After realizing the value of setting up roving surfboard-building classes for past trips down the east coast, they’ve decided to head west. Mike LaVecchia and Brad Anderson, owners of Grain Surfboards, have set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary for outfitting their mobile classroom: a truck suitable for sleeping in, and a trailer large enough to fit tools, gear, shaping stands, and boards. To raise extra support for their campaign, which ends next Thursday, Mike has put together a tutorial explaining the ethos of Grain Surfboards and how the crew plans to make this road trip a success.

Step 1: Investigate, Experiment, Prototype, Surf and Evolve 

Dedicate years to building wood boards of various shapes and sizes, studying different techniques that people have used over the last 100 years. Devise a method that blends time-honored techniques with modern surfboard design to create a board that has as little impact on the environment as possible, with maximum performance benefits to the surfer. 

Step 2: Pull together a dedicated and caring crew of people 

Assemble a talented and dedicated crew of surfers, board builders and teachers to help share this experience with others.

Step 3: Re-connect surfers with the experience 

Re-connect surfers to this experience of building and shaping your own board by offering complete DIY kits and week-long board building classes at your shop. Ship kits all over the world, and welcome people into your shop from all corners of the globe. Share everything you have learned.

Step 4: Build a community 

Build a loyal community of like-minded others that share your values and see the intrinsic value of building a board with your own two hands.   

Step 5: Get out and share 

Test out the idea of taking classes on the road by getting out and connecting with people in other parts of the world. Offer classes in a backyard in Encinitas (thank you, Korduroy), an old Firehouse in San Francisco, a Surfing Museum in San Clemente, and an old shipbuilding factory in Portland, Oregon. Make it possible for each student to walk home at the end of the class with a board they build with their own two hands.

Step 6: Dream big… and mobile 

Based on these experiences, conceptualize a full-on mobile classroom which will help you share this experience with even more people. With positive feedback from your friends, fans and customers, tell a compelling story via a Kickstarter campaign, to help raise the funds necessary to really do it right. 

Step 7: Share with your friends, fans and family 

Build hype for your project by sharing with your friends. Post blogs, send newsletters and personal emails, share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Edit videos together to help connect people with your passion for sharing. Most importantly, ask your friends that believe in what you’re trying to do to share the project with their friends.

Step 8: Get Funded! 

Step 9: Put your money where your mouth is 

Pull together resources and manpower to find the best rig possible. Employ your west coast truck-customizing guru to dial in the rig. Work hard to meet your goals of a fuel-efficient truck, ideally running on bio-fuels, comfortable for living in for weeks on end. Conceptualize a trailer that can tow easily yet house all of the buckets of clamps, shaping stands, rocker tables, spokeshaves, fairing boards, cordless drills, bench top bandsaw and sander, materials for dozens of boards and a full fleet of demo boards. 

Step 10: If you build it, they will come… or we will come to them 

Build out the truck and trailer so you can pull up anywhere – a beach, a school, a surf shop – and roll out everything you need to teach half a dozen people to build their own boards.

Step 11: Study maps, and hit the dusty trail 

Plan a tour. Reach out to schools, surf shops, friends, kit builders and corporate partners to plan venues up and down the west coast. Offer 7-day classes in board building, 2-day Paipo classes, and 1-day handplane classes. Plan demos where people can connect with you and try out your boards. Offer as many people as possible the experience to make their own board. Make a special effort to reach out to youth and to share the values that have driven your small company forward.

Step 12: Think Global, act local 

Search out local sustainable materials as much as possible for each venue a class is taught.

Step 13: Re-connect surfers with the experience of Doing It Yourselves! 

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