The technology to make sand sliding boards has advanced quite a bit over the few last years, and there are many manufacturers offering sandboards for sale today. Buying a commercial board has many advantages – and helps supporting the rather niche sandboarding industry – but these boards can get quite pricey. Making your own homemade sandboard from scratch (or by repurposing an old wooden skateboard, surfboard or snowboard) can be both a fun DIY project and a way to save you some money, as the materials you’ll need are few and inexpensive. That said, it is neither an easy nor straightforward process, and it will require some preparation and basic woodworking skills. Let’s get started!
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The best material for building your board is a lightweight hardwood such as maple or oak. You will need a deck that is around 100-150cm long.The easiest way to go about this is to repurpose an old skateboard (or snowboard or surfboard), or to get your hands on a plain skateboard deck with the wood material of your choice.
On top of the deck material, you will also need to add an extra layer of laminate to the base of your board in order to allow for waxing and reduce friction with sand. As a base material, the most common choice is a Formica sheet laminate.
Choosing a style for your sandboard
Before you start assembling your board, you should ask yourself what purpose will this sandboard serve. Are you gonna use it as a generic terrain board (i.e. to slide down small dunes), a pro racing board (i.e. for taller dunes and mountains), a carve board (i.e. for freestyling, carving and jumping tricks) or a dune sled (i.e. for sliding while sitting or lying down)? Your sandboarding style will ultimately affect the ideal size and shape of your board, so think carefully!
Sandboard design and shaping guidelines
Sandboards come in different sizes and shapes, with the most distinguishing feature being their “tail”. A board can come in one of three different tail designs: round (also called “twin tips”, because one end is the same as the other), square, or swallow tail. Twin tips are directional boards designed to be used in either direction, so there is no real difference between the “tail” and the “tip”. The V-shaped swallow tails allow for greater maneuverability and quick turns. Square tail sandboards area ideal for racing and slaloming.
Types of sandboards
As a rule of thumb, you will want to make your sandboard as lightweight as possible (remember: you will have to carry it while climbing up a dune, over and over). A shorter board (~100cm) is ideal for beginners, while a longer board (120-140cm) allows for better carving and higher speeds.
1. Terrain board
Terrain boards come with a swallow tail and are usually more compact. They are ideal for small dunes that are not too steep.
2. Race board
To make a racing board opt for a square tail and a longer deck. They can go at great speed but are not easy to maneuver or doing any tricks.
3. Carve board
For carving and performance riding, you will need to create a twin tips board with two round equal edges.
4. Sand sled
Sand sleds and toboggans can have either a square or round tail, and the two edges do not need to be asymmetrical. The body of the board needs to be wide enough to accommodate a person (or two), so aim at at least 25cm width. Lengthwise, stick around 110cm for adults, 100cm for kids. Unlike sandboards, you won’t need to install foot bindings but rather hand grips and/or a seat pad.
Footstraps and foot bindings (for sandboard)
You are gonna have a hard time keeping your feet on top of the board unless you implement some sort of foot bindings for your sandboard. Dakine foot straps are sufficient in most cases, but you may want to opt for sturdier (snow)board bindings if tackling more difficult terrains or very mountain-like dunes.
Seat pads (for sansled)If you are making a board for sledding, then you should get your hands on some adhesive cushion padding to place on the back of your sled. Your bum will thank you!
Building your sandboard
Start with the shape: if you are repurposing a skateboard deck and are happy with the tail design, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you will need to ensure that both edges of the board are slightly bended upwards (the shape of the board should resemble a closed-mouth smile, not a flat line). To achieve this, submerge your flat board in water and place some heavy weights in the middle of it, then leave it alone for a couple of days. After that, take it out of the water, leave it to dry, and check the results. Repeat the process until the board is not flat anymore but looks like a skateboard.
Glue the base material to the bottom of the board, making sure to cover every inch. This is the portion of the board that will need to be waxed whenever you bring it on a sand dune.
Screw the foot bindings to the top of your board. You can position both bindings parallel to each other (and to the board) or have the one closer to the tail bent 45°. This will determine the position of your legs while sandboarding.
How to make your sandboard slippery
Now that your homemade sandboard is ready, you will still need to regularly wax the base before and in-between every session down a dune. Remember, a good sandboard is a properly waxed sandboard! Sandboard wax can be easily purchased online, but since you are here, you could also make your own wax for a full DIY sandboarding experience.
Happy dune surfing!