Foam Surfboard From Scratch

a home depot surfboard

Have you ever wanted to make your own surfboard, but felt held back by a lack of tools, materials, or the cost of it? Drawing almost entirely from what can be found at a well-known home improvement retailer, [AndrewW1997] details the steps needed to craft your board.

In his guide, he details the difference between XPS (expanded polystyrene) and EPS (extruded polystyrene) and how each product’s closed cell and open cell nature affects the final board. Starting with two pink sheets of XPS, he laminated them together with glue to form his blank. A stringer is a long piece of wood in the middle of the surfboard that provides additional flex and strength. Some flooring plywood curved with a jigsaw provides the shape needed. Unfortunately, the blank needs to be split in half to install the stringer. However, he has a trick for gluing the blank back together without it buckling, and that trick is ratchet straps.

He cuts the foam into roughly the right shape with a hot wire. Clean up is done with sanding blocks, a plane, and a level. The next step is laminating the board with epoxy and fiberglass. Next, [Andrew] details a few considerations around the process and gets to glassing. Sanding up to 2000 grit and some polishing compound make the board gorgeous. After a bit of final curing time, you’re ready to ride some waves.

There’s a handy playlist on YouTube detailing the process so you can follow along. Once you’ve finished your surfboard, perhaps your next project will be to power it up with a jet drive. Video after the break.

5 thoughts on “Foam Surfboard From Scratch

  1. Awesome! So good to see garage shapers, even better when they experiment with materials. The modern surfboard is in my opinion a consumable. The magic lasts a couple months, then the deck gets stomped in, the foam goes dead and in 6 months you need another.

    I started shaping about 15 years ago, did 3 boards with conventional materials (Clark foam blanks, before they went under) and began experimenting. I did one XPS board, choosing baby blue instead of pink (Dow vs. Corning) and it went pretty well. That foam has great properties, and one Achilles heel that I couldn’t overcome: resin doesn’t stick to the foam permanently enough, and will eventually delaminate. Here’s why: XPS is mostly polystyrene but in order to extrude the foam cleanly, about 10 percent polyethylene is added. Nothing sticks to polyethylene. I tried a bunch of stuff, including scoring the foam with razor blades hoping the physical bond would be enough, but sadly the dreaded soft spots popped up, grew, and eventually the whole deck by the tail was detached. Bummer. I don’t mean to put anyone off of using it, just think they should be aware of its issues. Maybe someone else will find a way to make it work.

    I eventually settled on a sandwich-skin construction (how many high performance composites are made) using balsa from model aircraft suppliers, and very lightweight EPS for the core (the white beaded stuff, purchased at Home Depot, to boot). I used a vac bag and good epoxy resin, and they came out great after I ironed out some kinks. The last board I did became my daily shortboard and still is, weighs around 5 lb, and is still in great shape a decade later.

    So hats off, keep at it, and enjoy the satisfaction of sliding a few on your own self-made equipment!


  2. I make my own surfboards and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Stoke level is off the charts. On my 20th board right now! I got a starter kit for my birthday and it changed my life! I’ll never buy a board from a surf shop again.
    I get all my supplies at and the guys there are awesome at answering any questions. Great resources to learn how to shape and glass boards on that website.
    I shape EPS foam from Greenlight and it’s really good stuff. XPS insulation from home depot will delaminate and fall apart. Get a real blank with the rocker already in there so you don’t screw it up. The bottom rocker is the most important part of a surfboard’s performance and a proper blank will always work right.
    I now design my own custom foam blanks on the computer and send Greenlight the file, they ship my blank pre-cut so all I have to do is shape the rails (the most fun part in my opinion anyway) and bottom concaves. So much less work and my boards come out awesome.
    Love building my boards. So much more connected to my surfing now and shaping has improved my surfing a lot.

  3. Hey
    So cool you guys picked up my video from years ago, when i was shaping more XPS. I just sold that board but it’s been a great ride! Funny how google served me this article in my feed.

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