The Hardwood Cruiser Build (Part 1)

  • Skills required: Biscuit joining, gluing, clamping, stencil design, stencil application, wood cutting, sanding, planing, drill pressing, wood finishing, staining, hardware attachment
  • Current Skill Set: Gluing, clamping, stencil design, straight wood cutting, sanding, finishing, staining, hardware attachment
  • New Skills to be Learned: Biscuit joining, stencil application, curved wood cutting (jigsaw/bandsaw), planing, drill pressing.

So I have started my first handmade skateboard project. A mini cruiser built of maple and red oak. The first step in this project was heading to my local hardware store to pick out the materials.

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The nice thing about building a small cruiser is that the price for the hardwood pieces are not astronomical. Although I may have been able to save a little if I bought larger pieces and then cut them down I enjoyed that there were several options in store for length. I chose 1/2″ thick pieces and purchased them at a 3 ft length. After purchasing the wood the next step was off to the university’s wood shop to start to assemble the core for the deck. I am going to follow the lead of Bob from “I Like to Make Stuff”  and use biscuits to add a little strength to the joints of my hardwood pieces when I glue them together. For more info on Bob’s build check out my last post. So I headed to the wood shop and got advice from my new friend Jessie (the university’s wood shop tech).

New Skill #1:

This is a biscuit joiner.

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A biscuit joiner essentially plunges a saw blade the right depth length and angle to insert a biscuit in order to help make a strong joint while butting pieces of wood together in a single plane.

These are biscuits:

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Biscuits are tiny pieces of hard pressed wood. The biscuit fits in to the holes cut by the joiner and create a hidden overlap that gives the wood a stronger bond then just gluing the two pieces together. The biscuit joiner takes some attention to setup but once you have it done cutting holes for your biscuits is quick and simple. The key points are making sure the ends of your wood are square and aligned. You also need to mark where you cut the biscuit if you want them to line up properly. Once everything is marked, clamped and cut you can move on to inserting the biscuits and gluing the seams.

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Once all your seams are glued and lined up it’s time to clamp the wood. Clamps are fairly crucial throughout the course of any woodworking project. I am very glad that the university wood shop has a few kicking around. Clamps of all styles are incredibly handy but not particularly cheap. For this little board I used around 5  bar clamps to start.

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Thank God for Jessie again! I was starting to notice that the bar clamps were putting a slight bend/bow in the joints. Jesse came over and offered me a little help to try and keep things flat. We tried supporting the bar clamps a little better. Then we decided that bar clamps may not be the way to go. We switched to the wooden handscrew clamps and it made a huge difference immediately. They provided a much nicer clamp with even pressure down both sides. Here they are in action:

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This looks way better! The next step is now creating the stencil to shape the board. When measuring the boards to get an accurate place to start for my stencil I realized that I need to add one more piece of wood (probably oak for design sake). The board is measuring under 6″ right now and I need a little extra room to play with as I don’t want any straight lines on the boards profile. It should have one nice smooth curve to it because I want to stick with the surf board inspired aesthetic. The cruiser project goes on hold while I run out and grab another piece of wood…

Skills acquired:

  • Material Selection √
  • Biscuit Joiner √
  • Gluing and Clamping √

For now the first section of the core will sit in clamps till I can come back and add the final piece of wood. Stay tuned…

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