Birdwell + Toots June, 2018 June 20, 2018 00:30
At the heart of every project I take on, I always start with good intent. The plan is to hand craft something that'll make both the board builder and the surfer happy. Give them something they'll treasure, and you'll rarely see your board for resale or in a land fill. Toots (shaper), told me Geoff Clawson, from Birdwell Beach Britches had put in an order for a noserider, and he wanted to make him something he'd not only love to make, but also something Toots would personally ride him self.
Everything Toots shapes is crafted by hand. I've watched him build countless boards, and amazingly enough, even though he's booked with so many orders, he never rushes and only starts a shape when he knows exactly what he wants.
Birdwell's brand is not only known for quality. but longevity. In a fast consumerism world, this is something that's hard to come by. I've had a pair of their boardshorts that I've put through the ringer, and has lasted me many years. So, I wanted to glass a board that Geoff would be able to have for years to come.
Shaping is a tactile craft. Toots shapes barefoot. I've asked him once why he doesn't wear shoes, or at least slippers, his explanation was "with shoes you can't feel the uneven height of the floors surface. You wont be able to adjust your body's flow while you shape, without feeling what you are standing on."
Pictured, Toots is using his special planer on the stringer (piece of wood that runs down the middle of the length of the board that gives the foam rigidity) while also using his left hand to hold the nose of the board from below. This gives the board a solid foundation, and doesn't allow the nose to flex away from him while he delicately shaves away millimeter amounts of wood from the stringer at a time, which will eventually lead to a clean finish.
Here's a view of the bottom of the board, while Toots removes some thickness from the stringer.
After the board was shaped, I probably spent about a week going back and forth on color and finish. Toots had put so much thought, care, and work in to it, I wanted to do this board justice.
I decided, since Toots only uses high density custom made classic foam, I would give Geoff a strongly glassed board using two layers of 6 ounce fiberglass cloth on the deck and a single layer of 6 ounce fiberglass on the bottom, with an additional 6 ounce piece of fiberglass on the tail, called a tail patch.
Here's the finished product. I feel the dark indigo tint and matte finish matches Toots' and Birdwell's aesthetic. Clean, simple, stylish, and functional. The small details of the board were all thought through. We settled on a black fin box as a subtle touch. A drill-though leash loop rather than your standard leash cup, plus a white resin ring are the finishing touches for a minimal look.
I'm very happy with how this collaboration of minds came out, and I hope to do more of these soon.