We’re sitting across the desk from John, who’s preparing our taxes. I’m afraid of the number he’s going to come up with, and I think he’s afraid for us as well. As we’d walked in, I told him that I opted for forbearance on tax deductions from my unemployment compensation, and that we had to cash in on some investments to survive the 9 months that I was unemployed. I think we all knew that we were going to owe the government some money.
After an hour, John put the number in front of us. And this number, to our surprise, was to our benefit. The first thought that my inner-consumerist could muster was, “Alright, we should go buy an iPad!” And before that thought could even complete itself, and for whatever reason, it was squashed with, “I’m going to buy skateboards for Maly and me.”
To this day, I still don’t know why skateboards popped into my head. The only explanation I can think of is that Maly has pretty much mastered the PlasmaCar, Razor scooter and her bicycle. I’d also much rather promote fresh air, physical activity and coordination over either her or I sitting on the couch with an iPad on our lap (we already do enough of that as is with either a laptop or just the TV). Teaching my daughter how to ride a skateboard just seemed like the next logical step in my head.
I wanted to introduce Maly to the world of skateboarding that I grew up knowing in the 80’s; big, thick boards with knobby wheels (compared to today’s skateboard wheels). After doing some research, I decided that my 4-year-old daughter probably wouldn’t get into skateboarding enough in the short-term to warrant my nostalgic penchant, so we decided to just go to WalMart and get her a “beginner” skateboard. She chose a Tony Hawk Birdhouse deck, complete with skull graphics. It was a proud moment for me.
As for me, I wanted a throwback board — something that would rekindle my youth and the way that I chose to ride when I was an adolescent. The other kids on the street were busy teaching themselves how to ollie and grind. While they were doing that, I was traveling from point A to point B. I cruised. So, 25 years later, I wanted to find a board that would suit my cruising ways. That meant a longboard. They didn’t have longboards when skateboarding gained popularity in the 80’s, so this was completely new territory, but essentially a no-brainer.
I did quite a bit of research on the shapes and styles of longboards and found what I thought I wanted on Austin’s craigslist: a 46″ Dregs Alpine pintail with 66mm wheels. It looked like a surfboard, and that’s what I wanted. Maly and I woke up early on a Saturday, met the seller at a restaurant downtown, handed him $75 and he handed me a practically brand new longboard.
And I’ve been trying to ride every day since. I still suck, but I try, and I’m having fun. Maly hasn’t taken the interest to skateboarding like I was hoping she would, but that’s her prerogative. I’m not going to push her, but I’ll encourage any interest and will gladly hold her hands while she practices getting her legs beneath herself and learns to lean.
I don’t think 24 hours had even passed after having owned my first longboard that I decided that I wanted to build my own longboard. I really liked my Dregs board, but I had an idea of what the “perfect” shape longboard was for me, and I couldn’t justify spending even another $75 on another board.
And so, thanks to YouTube, I learned that one must glue and press multiple layers of maple veneer or plywood to create the concave of a skateboard deck. So I built a skateboard press that I affectionately named the “Wood Maiden” and pressed my first skateboard. I carefully designed the shape of my longboard using a combination of aluminum mixing bowls and a long strip of scrap 1×2 to create the nose and curved shape for the sides of the board, and traced my design onto a long sheet of paper that I borrowed from Maly’s art easel. I then transferred the outline to my pressed wood and began sawing and sanding.
In a month, it’s kind of turned into an addiction. I’ve made myself two 46″ spoon nose boards, made a friend online who gave me his old longboard, made another spoon nose for a friend and am currently helping the 10-year-old neighbor boy build his own custom longboard (with a design that I’m thinking about trying out myself). I want to try my hand at making a “drop through” longboard and would ultimately like to see if I could maybe sell a few of my designs. I also made myself a custom “goof board.”
On weekend mornings, I get up before the sun and ride down parking garages on the west side of town. I love the quiet and still of the morning and having an entire, empty parking garage all to myself.
I’m really looking forward to getting Buster’s board done so he and I can go riding together. Next steps are to design a drop through deck, build a 5- or 6-foot-long deck, figure out a way to transfer photos to a longboard deck and learn to work with fiberglass. It’s been a fun ride so far!