How To Fix A Broken Surfboard
Juniper Krog November 20th, 2019 Posted In: How-To Tags: Surfing
Oh, Snap! How to Fix a Broken Surfboard
To fix a surfboard that has snapped in half, you’ll need to have some knowledge of how a board is shaped. Specifically, consider the rocker or slight upward curve of the board through the tail or nose. To understand the function of this feature, picture the upward curve of the runners on a rocking horse. That curve allows a child to lean far forward or back without dumping themselves onto the carpet. In this same way, rocker assists in making steeper and hollower drops, shaped with the intent of fitting the curve of the board into the curve of the wave.
When you’re dropping into steep bowling waves, a board with fewer rockers has a greater chance of “pearling”, or getting caught up nose-first in the wave face and somersaulting or plummeting straight down. The takeaway is this: when fixing a broken surfboard, you’ll want to put it back together so that the rocker remains the way it was intended. Any new angle or bend in your board will definitely interfere with function.
Steps on How to Fix a Broken Surfboard
For the first step in any repair, remove all the wax from your board. Use a credit card or wax comb to get this job done. Next, make sure the parts of your board are completely dry. If it’s sunny, leave it outside for a few hours, or place parts inside, near a fan or dehumidifier. To determine if they’re completely dry, gently depress exposed foam (without leaving any obvious indents) and look for seeping water.
Once the foam has dried out, your job is to cut away any glass that’s lifted, stripped, or barely hanging on by prying it upward and folding it back gently, then cut at the fold with a sharp knife. An alternate and cleaner way to do this is with a mini hand held circular saw, such as a Dremel tool, which will result in a sharper line and better-looking repair. Remove the original glass a few inches back from the end of the break. Try to avoid denting the exposed foam as you go. Then, tape off your work area. This will mean less mess and less sanding later.
Use masking or painters’ tape about an inch behind where your glass ends and foam begins. Using a sander, lightly sand the glass area between the tape and foam. This creates texture and grip which will enable the new fiberglass layer to mesh well with the original deck of your board.
It’s a good idea to use a respirator mask throughout your work with fiberglass. This will help to avoid damaging your lungs or exposing yourself to chemical fumes.
Now comes the interesting part: putting it back together. There are a variety of techniques used to connect and reinforce the two halves of a broken surfboard, and this is just one trick among many. First, you must sharpen the ends of 6 chopsticks, or use 6 small wooden dowels, which will be used as rods to strengthen your repair and prevent rebreaking at the same spot. You can achieve sharp ends by using your sander, or go old-school and use a sharp whittling knife. Now, put the sticks and knife aside, and pick up a sharpie.
Starting at the stringer, measure outward to one side of your board to a rail, marking three evenly spaced dots on the foam. These will serve as a point of entry for the dowels or sticks. Repeat this symmetrically, on the other side. Now you’re ready to spear the foam at each mark.
Push the sticks in steadily, about halfway. Remove them, and repeat this step on the other half of your board, leaving the sticks inserted this time. Finally, line-up the two sides by sliding the premade holes on the other half of your board onto the sticks. Make sure you’ve recreated the rocker correctly and any other design features that were disrupted where the board snapped. There are calculations you can use if your shaper has given you rocker dimensions or a template. If not, you will need to use the rails as guides and be sure that they match up like new- without any odd bending or new angles.
The foam has no doubt altered a bit in this whole ordeal. So there will be a crevice between the two halves, no matter how expertly you’ve rejoined them. Prepare a Qcel mixture to fill in the crack. You could use a basic resin and catalyst combo as a filler for this stage of the job also.
To prepare, tape a cardboard base onto your board beneath the crack. This will retain the filler and keep it from dripping out before it cures. Mix Qcel with laminating resin until it is thick like pudding but still pourable. Then add catalyst according to the amount of mixture you just made. Fill in one side of the board only- it needs to dry before you can flip your board and fill the other side.
Once both sides of the board, top and bottom, are filled and cured, sand it down. Use a hand sander and 80-100 grit paper to sand down the exposed Qcel band. If you want to add any aesthetic details, like decals or paint, do it now, before laying the cloth.
Depending on the original thickness of the glass on your board, use either a 4 oz or 6 oz fiberglass cloth. Cut it a little larger than the space you’re covering, enough to overhang the rails. Then lay it over the repair area. Pour on catalyzed laminating resin and use a rubber squeegee to push the resin into the cloth. Try to avoid bubbles in the cloth, by gently pushing out air with the squeegee, or go over your work with a pin and pop any air bubbles that you find. You can fill them in with your next cloth layer or topcoat.
Once hardened, cut away any extra glass at the rails. Then sand down the glass patch with 80 grit sandpaper, moving to 100 and then 220. Of course, you will need to flip your board over and repeat the whole glassing process on the other side. Pay close attention to sanding the rails of your board so that the place where your two cloth layouts meet is nice and smooth.
Finally, you’re ready for a hot coat. You can use laminating resin again but make it a bit hotter with more catalyst. When sanding, use increasingly fine paper (80 grit, then 100, then 280, and finally 600 grit sandpaper). Once you are working with the 280 and up you can incorporate a bit of water and wet sand your board to a glossy shine.
Now that you know how to fix a broken surfboard, it’s time to get back out there and enjoy the second life of your favorite board. See you in the lineup!
*Also, check out this step-by-step article (with pictures) if you want a visual on how to fix a broken surfboard!