If you’ve been looking into making your own surfboard, or you’re just intrigued by the process regardless of the shaper, you’ll no doubt run into the term “glassing”, a crucial step in board fabrication and finishing.
What Is Glassing A Surfboard?
Glassing refers to the process of covering and protecting the foam core of a surfboard in fiberglass.
This is used to add a waterproof layer to the surfboard as well as extra protection and durability.
You can buy a surfboard pre-glassed, or you can get a professional to do the process for you, but it is generally cheaper and can be just as effective to do this yourself.
Glassing a surfboard is not an easy task, so if you are considering doing it yourself, make sure that you have all the right tools and equipment before starting.
If you don’t know what you need, then take your board to a local surf shop where they will help you out with everything you need.
Glassing a surfboard at its most basic is covering a board with fiberglass fabric and soaking and sealing it with resin to seal it to the surface of the board.
While this is a simplified version of the process, there are more steps to take into account before you begin.
If you want to learn how to glass a surfboard, then read on! I am going to walk you through the steps involved in glassing a surfboard, from start to finish.
Determine Your Glass Schedule
The glass schedule refers to the strength of fiberglass you would like to use.
If you use a higher amount of glass, your board will be stronger and heavier, and the opposite is true for using less glass.
Both the deck and the bottom of the board need glassing so choosing the right glass schedule for each side is important.
You can also layer multiple layers of fiberglass fabric to get a more specific density. Just make sure to put the highest density layer closest to the board.
Both shortboards and longboards generally require a different glassing schedule and depending on material this can also change.
The best bet for finding out what glassing schedule will work best for your board is to contact the manufacturer or the distributor you got the board from.
Generally speaking, however, shortboards will not need as dense a glassing schedule as a longboard does.
How To Prepare A Board For Glassing
There are two different methods of glassing a board; freelap and cutlap.
Cutlap is more difficult, more precise and requires more tools, while the freelap method allows you to skip a lot of the process.
If you just want your glassing to be clear with no details, it is best to try freelap. But if you want details or colored resin, then cutlap is the best method to try.
Before you start either method of glassing, make sure that your board is completely clean from any fingermarks, dirt, or scuffs.
All of these marks will be trapped inside after glassing so the easiest way to deal with them is before starting the process.
To make sure you get everything make sure to do this in good lighting and to double-check before making any permanent moves.
Preparing A Surfboard For Cutlap Glassing
The process of preparing a surfboard for cutlap glassing involves taping off the blank board before laminating.
It is recommended to use high quality masking tape for this process to ensure it works as best as it can and to provide a clean line for cutting fiberglass after it has cured.
Make sure that your board is laid firmly on your stand and mark the board with tape at least 1 and a half inches from within the outline of the board.
This marks off where the glass will begin to wrap around the sides of the board, giving it a balanced curved surface.
After this, you can overlap a second layer of tape closer to the middle of the board to further help with shaping, but this is not always necessary.
Applying The Glass To The Surfboard
Make sure before applying any glass that the board is completely level, so the resin will not distribute unequally.
Most people prefer to start glassing with the bottom of the board.
Layer out your fiberglass fabric (or your first layer if you are doing multiple layers) and cut it an inch over the nose and tail.
Once you have done this, cut evenly around the glass, so it can cover the rails of the board accurately, make sure to cut a little section and the nose and tail to prevent wrinkling around the edges.
This is when you will start mixing your resin, make sure to carefully follow the instructions of the brand and to make sure this is resin designed for glassing a board, as there are many varieties of resin on the market.
When mixing the resin, this is when you will add dyes or pigments if you are choosing to use them.
Once again make sure that the dyes and pigments are fit for purpose.
After the resin is mixed and ready to use, start by pouring it on the blank and spreading it around with a spreading tool.
Try to avoid any wrinkling or unbalanced distribution of resin as this will affect the performance of the board.
Make sure that you remove the tape before the resin completely cures.
Make sure to let the resin completely cure before doing more layers and once you are done you can trim away and clean up any excess.
Final Thoughts & Finishing Stages
After this process is finished, some people apply a ‘Hot Coat’ to fill in any gaps and to make it easier to sand the board for a smoother finish.
This is a similar layer of resin and is applied in a similar way to glassing your board. This is a whole other process however and has its own nuances and steps to take in mind. If you choose to do this process remember that it will make your board heavier.
But this has been how to glass a surfboard! Hopefully this guide has given you all the information you need to start this process yourself and get to glassing your surfboard!