Say Hello to Moda Core

May 31, 2017

Say Hello to Moda Core

Variable surfboard rocker starts with Moda Core, a surfboard blank that combines snowboard technology with soft surfboard materials to flex. With Moda Core, any shaper can build surfboards that have minimal rocker for easy speed, and flex to increase rocker when you turn, without plowing. 

Conventional surfboards have fixed rockers that trade-off speed and maneuverability precisely because they're fixed. Variable rocker eliminates this trade-off.

Because of this, surfboards made from Moda Core have all the performance that make conventional fiberglass construction great, but the level of surfer movement necessary is reduced to the bare minimum.

By simplifying how surfboards work, variable-rocker means experienced surfers can forget about working the board and focus on deeper aspects of wave positioning and connecting maneuvers, new surfers will have an easier time grasping the basics, and everyone can enjoy fun surfboards that are soft, durable, and environmentally responsible.

Fun Because Flex!


FAQ [updated 7/25/18]

I want my shaper to make me a surfboard from Moda Core. How do I do that?

Have them contact us at and we'll make things happen!

Can I shape a surfboard from Moda Core myself?

Yes! In fact, we host DIY Moda Surfboard Workshops at MakerPlace in San Diego; the next one will be on July 14, 2018. We'll guide you through designing and shaping your own Moda Core by discussing how variable rocker affects surfboard design, and sharing what's worked for us and what hasn't in the past. With each workshop, the community and knowledge base around variable-rocker grows, so there are always interesting ideas to learn about and discuss.

After your Moda Core is shaped, we will shuttle it to Custom X in Oceanside, CA - the leading bodyboard manufacturer - for thermal lamination with deck/rail skins and a base slick. FCS fin boxes will be installed in twin configuration. (Fins not included, quad setup is +$15). These steps typically take up to 2 weeks, at which point you’ll be contacted to pickup your finished board at MakerPlace.

Wait, no fiberglass?

Correct. Conventional surfboards get their strength and waterproofing from their external fiberglass shell. Moda-based surfboards don't need either of those. Extruded PE foam is closed-cell and doesn't react to water exposure. Shaped Moda Cores are thermally laminated with PE skins and a bottom slick, just like typical bodyboards. Strength comes from Moda Core's internal wood core; the same one that controls flex range, rebound, and pattern for variable rocker.

Without the need to fiberglass, manufacturing time and costs are significantly lower.

How does shaping Moda Core compare to conventional PU or EPS blanks?

The first thing you'll notice is that PE is significantly less messy than traditional surfboard foam. Without having to deal with breathing masks, loud ventilation systems, and foam dust getting everywhere, Moda Core lets you focus on working your design.

When using manual tools, PE tends to be more forgiving than conventional PU and EPS surfboard foam blanks because of it's elasticity. Those blanks are designed to be rigid and finish smooth, so even a slight shaping error can potentially ruin a board.

Lastly, because Moda Core is squared-up, it can be super fast to shape. With a PU blank, a fast shaper can take it to 90% on a CNC mill in 30 minutes and hand finish the last 10% in another 20. With the right manual tools, I've seen Moda Cores completely shaped easily in less than 10 minutes. In our workshops, people generally take 2-4 hours to shape depending on their experience.

How do I sign up for this workshop?

When workshops are scheduled, booking is offered on the Moda website.

Moda Core is only 60" long, am I too big/heavy?

Not with the right shape. This guy is 225 pounds and surfing a 4'10" x 20.5" board in freshwater, no problems. (He's also surfing finless, but that's for another blog post). One key factor in buoyancy is displacement, and length is just one of the three dimensions relevant to that. Design your board with more general width and thickness to increase displacement, keeping in mind that the skins/slick (applied during thermal lamination) will add +.25" to each of the three dimensions.

PE surfboards are typically 20-25% more buoyant than fiberglass boards, based on anecdotal feedback. People commonly tell us that a 4’10” Moda Core board floats them like a 6’ fiberglass board. This is because PE surfboards aren’t encompassed in a non-buoyant fiberglass shell. In fact, except for the fin boxes, every component in a PE surfboard floats! And, extruded foams tend to be more buoyant than beaded foams, assuming the same density. In other words, surfboards made from Moda Core are more buoyant with less displacement than similar sized boards made in fiberglass construction.

The other side of this question is how much surfer weight the internal wood core can bear. If the surfer is too light for the core, then the board won't flex enough. If the surfer is too heavy, then the board will plow. Designing the wood core to handle a broad weight range is a challenge, but in our tests, we've found that 60" Moda Cores can yield boards that flex properly for surfers up to 200 pounds.

And yes, we're working to increase weight ranges to 200+ pounds for future Moda Cores.

Moda Core is 60", why is that?

The quick answer is because we haven’t yet found more length to add useful performance benefits outside of increased buoyancy. (But we’re working on this!)

A short length helps you stand in the right place on the surfboard. When a Moda-based surfboard flexes, the water is pushing the board to curve around your feet. This means standing in the right place is important for the board to flex properly, and for our internal wood core, that only happens if each foot is on either side of the core's mid-point. You don't have to stand centered on the board, but a traditional on-tail stance doesn't work at all because that doesn't leave any board behind you for the water to push and keep the center flex positive.

That said, Moda is currently testing 60”+ Moda Cores and plan to bring them to market as soon as we can.

What's the difference between flex stiff/softness and flex pattern?

General flex, usually described by "stiffness" and "softness", is relative between two boards. Surfboard A is overall stiffer or softer compared to surfboard B.

Flex pattern is comparing stiffness and softness between different parts of the same board. For example, a board's flex pattern may be having a center that's stiffer than the tail which is stiffer than the nose.

I've never shaped a surfboard. Is that a big deal for the workshop?

Not at all! What's more important than craftsmanship is having an open mind to new ideas because surfboard shapes that work for variable rocker are different than what works for conventional constructions. 85% of workshop attendees don’t have prior shaping experience.

Is there anything I should prepare before coming to the workshop?

Think about what kind of outline you want to use. Better yet, make a full-size template and bring it with you. This is because with Moda Core, your outline requires significantly more thought than any other design aspect. Custom surfboard shaping tends to be 90% design deliberation and 10% actual cutting and shaping. So getting big design decisions made before you walk into the workshop will help speed things along.

Also, if you have specific shaping tools you prefer to use, you're welcome to use them in the workshop as well.

What are the design aspects to consider?

The first is the outline. Outline requires more deliberation than any other aspect because it's the one that allows you the most freedom with Moda Core. How full, or round, or tapered your outline will make the biggest differences in how your board will perform.

The second aspect we shape is the nose kick and rail bevels. I consider both as a single aspect because they're both done on the base, and they both serve the same purpose: to lift the perimeter of the board so it doesn't catch on the wave's surface. Nose kick helps keep your board from submarining, and shaping it requires the most physical work of all the design aspects because there's a lot of material to remove. The bevels are relatively slight but must be blended smoothly into the nose kick. They're needed to keep the rails from catching when you "slide pivot" the board, as opposed to "lift pivots" done on conventional rigid surfboards. 

Lastly is the rail shape. Because of variable rocker, Moda-based boards don't require complicated rail shapes typical of fiberglass boards that transition from hard (sharp) to round throughout the length of the board. Because the bevels from the previous step physically lift the rails from the water, rail shape can be hard all the way around.

There's more we'll talk about on each step during the workshop, but this is the basic gist of the 3 fundamental design aspects that make a Moda-based surfboard surf well.

What should I bring with me to a workshop?

Something to drink and maybe eat. Depending on how much time you want to spend shaping, food and beverage will help keep you powered and comfortable. Generally, most people finish their shaping within 4 hours.

If you can, your own outline template in real size. With Moda Core, your outline offers more creative freedom than any other design aspect, and it affects your board's speed, maneuverability, and buoyancy. Since everyone is physically different, an outline that's perfect for you may not be perfect for someone else. We do have stock outline templates to use, and tools to alter their shape. But bringing your own outline template to the workshop will save you a lot of time.

If you have manual tools you prefer to use, you're welcome to bring them. MakerPlace members also have access to shop tools, both manual, power, and CNC.

If I know a better/faster/easier way to shape Moda Core, can I do that?

Yes! This is a 'workshop' as opposed to a 'class' because you have the freedom to build what you want and what will be fun for you rather than us dictating to you how, or what kind of board, you can shape. If you have the access and skills, you can use MakerPlace’s CNC mill to shape your Moda Core. Sharing and discussing ideas is what makes these workshops so useful! Variable rocker is new enough that no one can know how it'll affect surfboard design in the long run.

Can I shape Moda Core with power hand tools?

Yes, with the caveat that you'll have to bring your own power planer since, as of this writing, MakerPlace doesn't offer power planers in their wood shop. While they have at least 4 jigsaws available, it's a good idea to bring your own blades.

Power tools are great to remove large volumes of PE quickly. By getting you through the outline, nose kick, and rails quickly, you'll have more time to spend customizing your board shape. For example, you may want to concave the deck, or cut channels on the bottom. My suggestion is to use power tools to take your shape to 85%, then finish the last 15% by hand.

Shaping the nose kick requires more effort than any other design aspect by far. In our experience, a power planer with straight blades, normally for planing wood, cut through PE cleanly and accurately. Other kinds of planer blades tend to rip the PE, tearing it away like ice cream.

A reciprocating (not orbital) jigsaw with a tilt adjustable foot makes short work of cutting outline and rails. Set the foot at 0 degrees for the outline, set it to 45 degrees to saw down the rails in a single pass. Fine tooth blades, usually for cutting metal, seem to cut PE easily and cleanly.

How are fin boxes and leash plug installed?

Basically, it's as simple as drilling holes and screwing them in. First step is to measure out where you want to place each fin box. Do this by marking the precise point where you want to drill a hole for each of the 2 fin box posts. Aspects like where you want to place the fin, how close to the rail edge, how much toe-in angle are really up to personal preference, but we'll discuss how each aspect generally affects performance.

Second step is to cut down the nylon fin box screws to suit the thickness of your board, since people tend to shape their board to different thicknesses. Any fine tooth saw will make quick work of the screws.

Next, we drill the holes, from the base, clear through the deck of the board. We have a special drill bit shaped to countersink the fin box flanges, but any wood drill bit at >0.25" diameter should work fine.

Lastly, we fit the fin boxes into position on the base, and secure them with the screws from the deck.

Leash plug installation is just drilling a hole through the board and screwing it in from both sides.


We'll continue adding to this FAQ as questions roll in. Contact us at @modasurfboards

1 Response

Jeff Gorton
Jeff Gorton

January 25, 2018

How much do the blanks run? When is the next shaping work shop? Do you offer an online shaping tutorial?

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