Variable surfboard rocker starts with Moda Core, a soft PE blank that uses snowboard technology internally to flex. Now with Moda Core, any shaper can build surfboards that are flat for easy speed and flex for 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.
Fun Because Flex!
How do I get my shaper to make me a surfboard from Moda Core?
Have them contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll make things happen!
Can I shape a surfboard from Moda Core myself?
Yes! In fact, we host DIY Soft Surfboard Workshops at MakerPlace in San Diego. The next one is on August 19, 2017. 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. 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. Lamination will take up to 2 weeks, at which point we'll schedule to meet again for fin box and leash plug installation.
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. Our extruded PE foam is closed-cell and doesn't react to water exposure. It's thermally laminated with PE skins and a bottom slick for durability. Strength comes from Moda Core's internal wood core; the same one that controls flex for variable rocker.
Without the need to fiberglass, turnaround time is much faster and manufacturing 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 PU/EPS because of it's elasticity. Conventional surfboard foam is 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.
How do I sign up for this workshop?
Right here. Walk-ins are welcome if the workshop isn't fully booked.
Moda Core is 60" long, am I too big/heavy?
Not with the right shape. This guy is 225 pounds and is surfing a 4'10" x 20.5" board in freshwater, no problems. (He's also surfing finless, but that's for another post). A 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 (of the thermal lamination) will add +.25" to final dimensions. Lastly, PE construction is generally more buoyant than conventional PU/EPS because both the blank and skins/slick float, and they're not weighed down by a fiberglass shell. In other words, Moda-based surfboards float more with less displacement than conventional foam/fiberglass.
The other side of this question is of 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 too heavy, then the board will plow and bog down. 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 and float 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?
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 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.
Moda Cores of 60"+ are certainly possible to build and would work properly provided the surfer stands in the right spot.
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 stiffer or softer compared to surfboard B.
Flex pattern is comparing stiffness and softness between 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.
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 big 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. Unlike fiberglass surfboards, Moda-based boards don't require complicated rail shapes that transition from hard (sharp) to round during 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. The second step of grinding down the nose kick with a surform blade requires physical exertion. We're trying to figure out a faster yet safe way to shape nose kick, but in the meantime a beverage will help keep you comfortable.
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 we want you to have the freedom to build what you want and what will be fun for you rather than limiting how, or what kind of board, you can shape. So please share and discuss ideas! 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
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