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Quite a while ago, I made a longboard. I still ride that board today, and it rides GREAT, despite the fact that I got tons of comments (and still do) about how solid wood isn’t good for skateboards, and how it doesn’t have any flex, etc.  Like most everything I do, there are 100 ways to do it.. most of them work fine, just have different final products.

Since I made that one, I started looking into how others made the laminated boards and found a few ways to make them, but they required complex presses or larger vacuum machines, none of which I was interested in figuring out.  Then, last January, I went to Chicago and met a great guy named Tait who works at Inventables. He showed me how he was using the X-Carve to shape a foam form, and introduced me to the products from Roarockit, a Canadian company making vacuum bag kits for people who wanted to make their own boards using a simple ShopVac and hand pump to pull the vacuum.

Tait walked me through the entire process and I got excited, but it took me about 9 months to finally get around to trying it for myself. I didn’t really need another skateboard but I wanted to make one for my wife. She plays roller derby, so I decided to make the board in her team colors and add her derby name to the bottom, along with some stars, since she is primarily a jammer and they wear a star on their helmet.

You could certainly shape the form by hand, using a rasp and knife but I was eager to learn how to get the X-Carve to carve in 2.5D and this was a perfect project to explore that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Wood working:

Here’s the board I made, now let’s look at how I made it!

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In 123d Design, I made a profile/sketch with two rectangles and added two arcs.

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I extruded these shapes, all together.

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I extruded them to around 44″,  a little longer than my desired board length.

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I pulled in the top of each end, to give them slope, making a tail (more slope) and a nose (less slope).

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I made another rectangle sketch and moved it to the middle of the model.

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I used the rectangle to split the model into two halves, each of which would fit on my X-Carve separately.

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I brought each one into MeshCam and created a very simple tool path for the X-Carve to follow.

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Using a 2×2′ sheet of 1″ insulation, I cut it right down the center.

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I covered the entire surface with Super 77 spray adhesive and let it dry for a few minutes.

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I folded the pieces together, effectively making a 2″ piece of foam.

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I put the largest bit I had in my X-Carve, a 1/4″ ball nose bit.

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I screwed the foam panel into the waste board.

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I ran the tool path for each half on a different foam panel.

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After removing all of the surrounded, unwanted foam the two pieces fit together, but didn’t line up exactly.

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I found that there was enough curve in the foam insulation to make the cuts uneven.

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I attached the two panels to a piece of melamine with spray adhesive.

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The pieces lined up and I made sure they were secure to the melamine.

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I smoothed out the transition with a rasp in no time flat.

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The entire foam surface was covered with pacing tape to prevent damage to the foam in the lamination process.

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I measured the profile of the board shape, edge to edge.

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The veneer sheets I got were much larger than necessary, and they come with grain going in different directions for strength.

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I trimmed all of the sheets to length.

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Then I ripped them all down to fit the size of my form.

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I sandwiched the veneers, fully covering each with glue, and making sure to alternate grain direction between layers.

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I held the edges together with some packing tape so they wouldn’t slip around because of the glue.

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I slid the sandwich and the form into the vacuum bag, being careful not to snag the bag on anything.

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Over the sandwich, but under the bag valve, I slid in a strip of nylon mesh. This helps make sure the valve doesn’t get blocked before the vacuum is complete.

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The end of the bag was sealed up with some very sticky black glue/tape.

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The shopvac hose fits over the valve, and when turned on, it pulls out almost all of the air.

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It was awesome to watch the sandwich change shape as the vacuum pulled it down to the form.

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After the shopvac can’t get any more air out, I switched over to the included hand pump to pull out the last bits of air.

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After it dried for 8 hours, I pressed the valve to release the vacuum.

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I had a pretty successful blank!

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I folded a long piece of paper and drew out the shape of the board.

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After I was happy with it, I traced the line with a Sharpie.

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Next, I flipped the paper over and traced the shape to the other side.

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This gave me a complete, symmetrical template to use.

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I drew a center line and added a light coat of spray adhesive to the blank.

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I added the template by lining up the crease with the center line.

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Then the other side laid over into place as well.

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I used a bandsaw to cut out the shape, but you could also use a jigsaw.

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I smoothed out my bandsaw cuts with a belt sander.

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I used an orbital sander to give the edges a very slight round over.

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Since I used a light coat of spray adhesive, the  template pulled off easily.

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I used a chalk line to add a center line to the bottom of the board. DON’T DO WHAT I DID.. it’s messy and hard to get rid of.  Just use a pencil and flexible ruler.

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I lined up the trucks, and used a straight edge to make sure they were lined up with each other, then marked the holes for each.

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I added a block underneath to prevent blowout, then drilled all eight holes.

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I assembled the wheels and trucks, which is extremely simple.

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I cut out some graphics on my vinyl cutter to use on the bottom of the board.

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After peeling away the extra, I added a sheet of transfer paper over the remaining vinyl.

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Then using a utility knife, I cut the individual stickers out.

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I peeled off the backing from the vinyl, which leaves it attached to the transfer paper.

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I laid it down onto the board surface and smoothed out any bubbles. When I peeled off the transfer tape, it left the vinyl in place on the board.

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Using some pinstripers tape, I made a couple of simple curves to enhance the design.

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Then I masked off the areas along that border with blue tape.

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I put down a few coats of black spray paint in the exposed areas.

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After drying, I removed the tape and vinyl stickers, leaving the painted design.

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The bottom surface was protected with a couple of coats of spray lacquer.

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To match my wife’s team colors, I got some red grip tape. I peeled off the backing and rolled it over the top surface, making sure not to let bubbles form underneath.

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I ran a screwdriver around the edge to score the grip tape.

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The scoring mark helps to make the cut cleaner. I cut off the excess with a utility knife.

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I poked through, from the under side in each of the eight truck holes.

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After cleaning out the holes, I dropped in the screws.

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The riser pad slides over the screws before adding the truck and nuts.

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The trucks are tightened with a screwdriver and a ratchet.

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Not bad for a first try!

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Also, it rides great!

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