Work as a Surfboard Shaper
Surfing is a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s popular all over the world, especially in places with waves like Hawaii, Mexico, California, Australia, and Chile. Surfing is a sport where you get wet, ride waves, and have fun. But who do you think creates and designs the board you ride?
Surfboard shapers design and craft surfboards by hand. Surfboards are usually made from foam blocks that are then shaped into boards and covered in fiberglass. Shapers use tools like sanders, surforms, raps, levels, and planers to shape foam boards. Other shapers use wood to make wooden surfboards. As a board is shaped, there is lots of dust in the air and lots of smiles in the room.
There is a lot to think about when creating a surfboard. Surfboards are unique. A board’s curve will help with maneuverability while a board’s raise will help with flotation. Shapers have to consider all sorts of things – templates, length, waist width, nose width, tail width, thickness, rails, nose rocker, tail rocker, foil, contours, tail designs, and fin setup. All of these things will affect how a surfboard will perform. It also means that a shaper has to have an in-depth knowledge of boards. Shapers also have to consider who will ride the board – ability, weight, height, and fitness all play a role in the final design. The beauty of shaping surfboards is that there are endless possibilities.
Shapers are passionate about surfing. They are the guys who have a quiver of surfboards for each type of wave. This passion also makes it hard to break into this industry because there is very little turnover. There are a few entry points into this industry. One interesting route is to get a degree in Surf Science and Technology from Edith Cowan University, where you will explore the mechanics of surfboard construction.
A more common route to learning the art of surfboard shaping is to apprentice with an expert. Learn from the best to become the best. Observe and practice because experience is the only way to create a quality surfboard. There is lots of trial and error and lots of trying your board creations before you will really understand what it takes to be a surfboard shaper.
It is the creativity of the surfboard shaper that helps the sport evolve. They are at the forefront of surfboard design. Even though shapers are the people making the industry come alive, surfboard shaping is still a lifestyle career. Shaping is a means to surfing. It’s not a job that will pay for a second home, but it is a job that will get you near the beach doing what you love – surfing.
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No matter what type of board you shape – longboards, shortboards, hybrid shapes, or funboards – shapers can plan to make between $25,000 and $40,000 per year. As your work gains a quality reputation, you can plan to make more. Boards sell for $600 to $1,300. That’s easily enough money to catch the next break, no matter where you live in the world.
Surfboard shape makes all the difference when you are surfing. Shaping is an art form, and shapers love what they do. There are not many jobs where after you finish your hard work, you get to surf even harder. Next time you’re paddling out for the big break, think about what you do to pay the bills. If surfboard shaping sounds like more fun than how you spend your nine to five, it may be time to start looking for an apprenticeship.
Quick Facts About Surfboard Shaping
Job Title: Surfboard Shaper
Office: Near the beach.
Description: Design and shape surfboards
Certifications/Education: Must be a surfer
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of surfing and good surfing ability
Potential Employers: Self employed, surfboard companies, passion for surfing.
Pay: $25,000 to $40,000 per year