Wine Cork Surfboard

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Introduction: Wine Cork Surfboard

The production of surfboards have severe environmental effects. The foam is made from oil, which is mined and then refined and burned into the foam blank that is used to make the board. This blank is then shaved down to fit the shape of a surfboard, producing harmful dust. To seal preserve the life of the surfboard, it is doused in several toxic chemicals. These chemicals are toxic to both the environment, and the person constructing the surfboard. The carbon footprint of an average surfboard is around four hundred and fifty kilograms of carbon dioxide which is as much as the average car would produce running 15.5 hours non-stop or the energy a house uses in 11 days. This needs to change.

Step 1: Corks!

The corks were sorted to get rid of all the artificial corks, as the planer would melt them. The corks were glued into pairs using Evo-Stick, and then 3 pairs were taken and laid out together around a plastic wine cork. The pairs were “folded” up into a hexagon around the plastic cork, and an elastic band was wrapped tightly around it to hold it in place while the glue dried. Once dried, the plastic cork is removed and the process is repeated 400 times.

Step 2: Gluing Up the Blank

The stringer template above was drawn out full size on Techsoft2D and sent to the vinyl cutter to be drawn out on to wallpaper. The template was then cut out by hand and drawn onto the 2 boards. It was cut out on the band saw. The hexagons were then glued onto the stringer, with the edges touching and bonded together. Near the centre of the board, there are two hexagons on top of each other to provide the volume needed for shaping. Once the first layer had set, more layers were added until the board reached the desired width. The hexagons tessellated together to form a stronger, lighter and more robust shape. Each side of the board was built up separately, so that they could both be worked on at the same time to increase efficiency.

Step 3: Finishing the Blank

The two halves were taken and laid next to each other and a single strip of hexagons were glued onto one stringer. They were held in place using F-clamps. Once dried, the half with the cork strip and the other half are glued together and clamped using spring clamps. Each half was supported due to a varying height of corks. The vinyl cut template was pinned onto the board lining it up with the tail of the board and the stringer. Extra tape was added to ensure that the template did not move around.The outline was then cut out on the band saw, tracing around the template. The template was then flipped around, and the other half was then cut out.

Step 4: Rails and Shaping

An 80mm block of plywood was laminated up from individual sheets and was glued to the front and another to the back of the board. Using the template they were trimmed to the outside shape. The flexible plywood rails were bonded onto the cork edges using EvoStick. It was clamped together using G clamps. Once dried, the second layer of flexible wood is laminated on using wood glue. The overflowing flexible wood was removed using a coping saw and finished with a block plane. Small nails were used to attach the rails to the plywood blocks as well as the glue to ensure a strong bond. Using an electric planer, the corks were shaped smooth and the rails were curved outwards. The plane was originally set at a depth of 1.4mm but that was gradually reduced to 0.4mm. The shaping was done in a well ventilated area with a mask, goggles and ear protection worn.

Step 5: Glassing

The board was placed on a stand with enough space on either side for the glassfibre to be wrapped underneath. Any dust was removed from the board with a vacuum cleaner. The whole work area was covered in ground sheets to avoid spillage. A heater was required to get the room at 20*C for the duration of the glassing. The glassfibre cloth was laid over the underside of the board and trimmed smoothly with approximately 3 inches left excess all the way around. A cut was made on either side of the tail and at the nose of the glassfibre so that it can be overlapped instead of creasing.The resin and catalyst were mixed in the ratio 99% resin to 1% hardener. 50ml were mixed at a time to avoid it curing too quickly. Using a paintbrush, the resin was gently applied to the bottom of the surfboard to avoid it sinking into the holes. The fibreglass cloth was kept tight through the use of weights on the surfboard. The resin was applied from the centre out to avoid air bubbles. The excess fibreglass around the rails was pushed down the surfboard to completely cover the rails and the edges of the deck. Once the fibreglass was fully saturated in resin it was left to cure fully. Curing took approximately half an hour while gelling took 6 minutes. Once cured, using a Stanley knife the excess fibreglass was trimmed along the making tape line. This process was then repeated for the deck of the surfboard, with the excess not being trimmed off, but overlapped instead with the bottom glass.

Step 6: Leash Plug and Fin Box

Once fully cured the shape of the fin box was marked out using masking tape and metal rules. on the underneath of the board. Using a Stanley knife the fibreglass skin was removed and the remaining corks were removed using a chisel to create a channel in the board. Once fully cured the shape of the fin box was marked out using masking tape and metal rules. on the underneath of the board. Using a Stanley knife the fibreglass skin was removed and the remaining corks were removed using a chisel to create a channel in the board. On the deck a 30mm hole was drilled using a Forstnerbit and a piece of fibreglass was laminated and placed in the hole. The leash plug was inserted and left to cure fully. The excess plastic for the leash and fin box were sanded away using an orbital sander.

Step 7: Go Surfing!

The board weighs approx. 15kg, so quite heavy when carrying down the beach, however this isn't noticeable once in the water.

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    We have a be nice policy.
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    6 Questions

    That looks great! Do you shred on it it just take it easy?

    Thanks! The board goes quite well, but its limited by my abilities instead!

    What did the length and width end up being. How much did the test surfer weigh? Was it easy to ride? Do you think it will be durable?

    I'm not sure if you surf or not, but surfboards are different because length, width and volume depends on skill level. The shorter the board the harder to surf, however it is quicker and more agile. Jordy Smith, for example, is 93kg yet he surfs boards 5'11 and less. On the other hand, 6 yr old kids are learning on 9ft plus surfboards. If you don't surf, I'd recommend trying out a variety of board sizes before you start the build. Hope I could help!

    2 more answers

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    charliecadin, at 97kilos, I'd need more than 50% more corks. Do you think the extra length would compromise the strength? 50% more weight would be tough to manage.

    The board is 6'2 by 22". The surfer weighed 80kg. The board was uncomfortable to carry on land due to the weight, but once in the water the extra weight allowed it to gain momentum making paddling easy and catching waves easy. turning is a little hard, but it floats nicely when standing on it.

    Can you make boat out of corks and fiberglass?

    For the next project!

    Very innovative, quick question, did you vent the board? Any worries of leaving it in the sun and expansion of air, causing issues of delamination or bubbles? I thought about building a board from cardboard as recycled material. Good job!

    Thanks! Being my first board I didn't, however now after a surf there is mild condensation inside, and after doing some research I'd definitely put one in next time. Cardboard sounds really cool!

    Hi, the board looks absolutely stunning! But I do have a question… Are you at all concerned that it looks a lot like fish scales? I would be really concerned about attracting sharks or other predators. Maybe in the water it doesn’t look so much like fish scales?

    Thank you! I surf in the UK, so sharks aren't really a problem, and most of the year the waters so murky you can't see your hands!

    34 Comments

    I don't surf as I'm old and live in the UK but I love that there are folk like you out there that try to do the "right" thing. This looks good and is probably way more environmentally friendly than mass produced boards. But haters gonna hate. Especially those that throw their plastic water bottles in the sea, while surfing.

    1 reply

    mega cool. Can we use it as an example for our sustainability youth camp in Australia please

    1 reply

    Sure that sounds awesome! Please credit my name, and do you have a link to this camp?

    Love it maybe the next one try to make it from rings cut from bamboo stalks it may be lighter the the cork

    You also could have used a nice cotton print instead of glass and there are Epoxy resins derived from plants which are as good as,(in some cases better than),oil based Epoxies.

    3 replies

    Thanks for your advice, do you know the name of the plant based Epoxy? Thanks!

    Thank you! They look much better!

    So in any case you are using the same fiberglass "chemicals" that you complain about. so where is the carbon footprint 'gain'? just in the Styrofoam? and in order to glue the cork pieces together you are using glue which also has the same chemicals that you're complaining about... and the amount of glue that you used probably increases the carbon footprint over the "standard" board. Nice idea making the surfboard out of cork and making it twice the weight of a "standard" surfboard but don't tell us the reason is to reduce the carbon footprint. By what amount did u actually change the footprint? In fact you may have increased it using this build.

    4 replies

    The majority of the environmental impact comes form burning the oil to get foam, producing CO2 gas. The resins don't produce CO2 thus don't effect the carbon footprint, however they are toxic for the environment. I looked into using Bio-resins, such as Entropy Resins, however the majority were US-based and being a student the shipping costs were huge, as well as bio-resin costing 3-4 times as much as polyester. Since completing the board I have discovered Flax cloth, which is similar to potato sacks, with would reduce emissions further. If you're interested I suggest checking out www.sustainablesurf.org for more information.

    what about the carbon footprint of the large quantity of glue you used?

    1: Neat looking board.

    2: Foam is not produced by "burning oil".....

    3: There are major restrictions on any VOCs going into the enviroment, to collect gasses.

    4: Using hemp fabric won't help, because you still need resin.

    5: Yes, bio-resins are very expensive, and not as good as traditional ones. Work in progress, but we are far from it. Even many "bio resins" only replace a key compoent or two with a bio source.

    6: Cutting doesn't create "harmful dust" unless you are eating it for lunch. Same with the people making traditional boards....the resins are only harmful if they are not following logical, and safe procedures.

    How much for energy usage and carbon released into the atmosphere for the glue used to stick the corks together? Otherwise, I like the concept!

    1 reply

    Absolutely amazing. I don't surf being from Pennsylvania USA, but I was so impressed you got my vote for the contest friend. Keep up the great work.
    DR1LLB1T

    1 reply

    Thank you! Really appreciate it!

    Gnarley Dude! Need vicious pics of ya locked in the Green Room! Peace Out!