Having the right tool for a job helps eliminate wasted hours and frustration. Our goal with “5 Essential Tools” series is to have the experts guide us into which specific tools have allowed them to thrive in their careers.
Scott Larese of Larese Laminations is a longtime Ventura board builder. His impressive resume includes an array of styles from the high-performance shortboards at Channel Islands to custom color work for Wayne Rich, William Denis and a host of other shaping luminaries. We wanted to know, given his decades of experience, what 5 tools are indispensable for him.
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1) WISS 10″ SHEARS
My main tool that I cannot live without are my trusty scissors. I’ve cut miles of cloth with this one pair that I’ve had for 15. Those scissors have cut cloth for boards for Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds, and thousands of everyday surfers. Probably over 10,000 boards have been built with that pair of scissors. The handle has worn grooves into my thumb bone.
It’s a pair of Wiss, extra heavy duty, bent handle shears. They are kind of the industry standard, but they don’t make that exact pair anymore. I’ve tried newer versions, but they just aren’t the same. And in fact, I have 4 different pairs, but this one 15 year old pair is the only pair that I use. I have a mobile sharpener come about once a month that keeps them in perfect condition.
I love the basic, yellow 6” spreader. I know a lot of guys use the white squeegee, but whenever I’ve used those I always feel like I’m leaving too much resin behind. I prefer the basic spreader. It seems to pull the resin out, so I can leave it fully saturated, but still light and tight. I’ll use it until it has a bow in it. A box will last me six months or so. It’s not a better tool than the squeegee, it’s just what I’m used to. I know exactly how much pressure to apply. It’s just an extension of my hand. But I also know plenty of guys feel that way about the neoprene squeegee, so I suppose it’s just whatever you started using that feels most familiar.
A razor blade is another essential tool. They are practically single-use for me. A laminator does a lot of things with a blade; evening out a cured lap, scraping it away instead of using sandpaper, getting out bubbles, it helps you get a clean cut lap. I use them to lay out paper. And again, I can’t stand a dull blade, so I’ll usually just use it once, toss it, and grab a fresh one.
You guys (FGH) call them tongue blades, I like those and just plain stir sticks. They are a hugely under-appreciated tool. I use them every single day in a variety of ways. I use it for way more than just stirring. I do a lot of abstract work so it allows me to make clean thin lines. It allows me to use just enough resin so it’s not pooling on the board. There are different things you can do to the stick to get the resin to drip from it at different speeds and thicknesses. Sometimes I let resin cure on it just to build an icicle that allows for a different effect. I’ll also use the stick as a measuring device, to size up a leash plug, or mark how far from the rail a fin needs to be, or how far off the tail I need carbon to sit. Such a simple but useful little tool.
The 5th tool is a little embarrassing. It’s a custom made lap tool for drawing a clean line. I’m sure I’ll be called a kook by other laminators, but I’m not a very good tape puller. I need a little cheat. I’ve been pulling tape my entire career, and I’ve practiced so much, but I’m just not any good at it. I need all the help I can get so I use a lap tool. I feel a little shame admitting it, but the tool is so helpful that I kinda want to showcase it.
The guys I laminate for like Wayne Rich, they demand absolute precision and this tool allows me to execute that. A friend gave me this awesome little tool that he had custom machined. I think it cost him about $600 to have manufactured. I’ve had it for a few years now and it’s completely reduced my anxiety for this one little part of the job that I always dreaded. I used to use a pencil or a scribe, but you’d get deep groove in the foam and pencil line that you’d need to blow out with an air gun. This is a specialized tool with a razor blade mounted on it that I use just to cut the tape. You could also cut the cloth after it’s cured, but I just use it to give my clean initial line. It’s a really smartly designed tool that allows me to do my job more precisely and quickly.
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