Ingmar Beer’s Handmade Wooden Surfboards

In case you hadn’t noticed, Spring/Summer 2012 was heavily influenced by ’70s and modern day surf culture. rag & bone also has an innate appreciation of craftsmanship, therefore when we heard about Ingmar Beer (what a great name?) we felt compelled to investigate further. A former airplane mechanic, Beer handcrafts traditional Alaia Hawaiian-style surfboards at his home in Far Rockaway, New York.

We chatted to the talented artisan about his cool sideline project…

When did you begin making surfboards?

The first board I ever made was about five years ago. It was a traditional fiberglass and foam board as I had experience working with fiberglass and resins from being in the aviation industry. I found that working with all these heavy chemicals was not fun though as I had to do it indoors and the fibreglass work stunk up my house for a solid week. I then began making these boards which are a modern take on the traditional ancient Alaia surfboard from Hawaii. I started making them just for fun but when people started asking about them more and more, I decided to start selling them. I’m not really in it to make money though. No one that makes surfboards really makes money doing it, but they are fun to make and it’s fun to see how little design tweaks affect the ride.

Are the boards environmentally friendly?

Yes, these boards are about as green as you can get. They are made from Paulownia wood, imported from California, and sealed only with a special mixture of linseed oil. Paulownia is a sustainable tree that grows at the same rate as bamboo. It is a pleasure to work with and is great for marine applications since it is very buoyant and naturally does not absorb water.

Can you describe the process that goes into making one of your boards?

The wood starts out as raw lumber. I straighten it out with the table saw and laminate it together in a press with clamps and a very high quality glue. I then use computer software to come up with a new design, which I cut out the outline of. Then I start shaping the board, usually with the rails first then to the nose and then up to the bottom concave. Since these are finless boards, the concave is very important, as are the rails. I’ve found that the simpler the design, the better. Once the board is shaped, I start the finishing process – oiling. You oil and then have to wait for it to soak in to oil some more. This is what seals the board and give it that beautiful color.

Are they harder to ride than modern boards?

Yes, the boards are definitely way harder to ride. Even for an experienced surfer it’s like learning all over again. However, once you get your first wave on one, it’s pretty awesome. They are actually way faster than a normal board since they are flat and have no fin.

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