If you like art, surfing, shaping tools and enjoy a sense of humor, then this week’s blog is for you. Ryan Lovelace has taken finless boards, design and surfboard construction to the next level. Ryan grew up around Fiberglass Hawaii and even worked in the old Santa Barbara location learning the ropes in the very beginning. We caught up with him on the way to LAX as he was leaving to shape in Australia, Bali and Hawaii. His car was packed with clothes, surfboards and most importantly, his shaping tools. This was the perfect time to see what five essential tools he relies on to shape a surfboard. Ryan’s picks are unique to his personal style and although we may not carry these one-of-a-kind items in store, gaining insight into his creative process hopefully will inspire you to think outside of the box.
Fiberglass Hawaii (FGH): Why don’t you design your boards on a computer program and send them to the cutter so that when you arrive they’re ready to roll?
Ryan Lovelace (RL): I’m not interested. I’m not captivated. I don’t make enough money to be not captivated by what I’m doing, you know (laughing)? I’m not interested in scrubbing out some CNC lines. Plus, the time that it would take me to do those files a little bit different, organize everything, go down to Ventura and get the blanks, I could just hand shape them all since I can hand shape a board in an hour to an hour and a half. It’s not that hard; it’s fun; it’s just shaping! (lays out his tool selection)
FGH: This is it? Looks pretty basic.
RL: So in terms of totally indispensable tools, this thing (David plane). Keeping this thing sharp is priceless. I love that planer. Cuts the stringers really well.
FGH: How about that double-sided saw?
RL: This thing I love to death. I’ve had this since I was 22. I’ve never sharpened it or anything; it just keeps working. I like it a lot, I can take it apart and put it back together, it’s really nice. I can cut the outline if I have to and different tails.
FGH: What about the blue sandpaper sanding block?
RL: Literally, a one-by-four block with 60 grit is the only block that I use. That’s like 60% of my shaping. Takes down the foam, gets it flat and true.
FGH: Okay, so you can cut the outline, plane the stringer, and take down some foam. How do you plan on finishing the board?
RL: Well, this thing… (picks up an old worn out soft foam block) if I had to pick only one tool I could have for the rest of my life… this would be it. This had a life before I ever had it and I’ve had it now for about seven years. I’ll go from the planer to this block with the sandpaper on it for about four seconds and it smoothes out everything. It’s about 80% perfect. That being said, I do spend about 80% of my time shaping with a planer so…
FGH: So let’s just ignore the planer and focus on the hand tools!
RL: My buddy Guerdon gave this (old drywall tool with soft pad) to me. He’s an old school knee boarder and shaper in town. He gave me a bucket of tools and said, “you’ll need this some time.” He always gives me really cryptic messages that are really fun, and he was like “use this on styrofoam”. This thing, on styrofoam. I was like, “okay Guerdon, thanks for the tools.” So it sat in the bucket of tools in my shaping room for like, 2 1/2 years and I decided to use it one day – Life changer. This thing is amazing. You just rough it out with a planer and tear the s&%t out of it. Spend 10 minutes with this going bap, bap, bap, bap, bap, and just smoothes the whole thing out. I just take 220 grit screen on a sander and go back and forth like a machine and it looks flawless, it’s insane, like a regular US Blanks. No mega holes, no scratches, nothing just…perfect. I can shape an EPS board super fast and it’s hilarious because I hate EPS, but now I love it because of this thing. I always tell people, get a super soft block with like seven grit on it! (laughing) I promise you’ll like EPS real quick.
Some surfboard shapers focus on the business, some focus on the art, but most got into shaping to have fun. Ryan is definitely having fun and we enjoy supplying his board building needs. Stay tuned, because we’re going to release the Pro Shaper Profile on Ryan Lovelace at the beginning of the year. While you won’t find some of these items in our store, we’ve got a wide selection of shaping tools that will get the job done. Check out this video of Ryan and his buddy Trevor having fun on his V-Bowls model.