Unhappy Sk8, or Unhappy Skate as it’s sometimes called, is a longboard brand started by myself and my good friend Kohei Urakami. The brand started when I had ripped my Loaded Slide gloves in a fall and knew I could make something better.
Founded October of 2011, we planted our roots in the heart of social networking: Facebook. We also quickly put up a corresponding Youtube channel. I even tied all of it together with a website to match.
My personal premise for the brand was to take the things I built for myself and my friends, and get them available to a wider audience. I thought it would be cool to have a business model that allowed me to acquire more funds to get into the realms of more and more advance creations. At our start, we would throw around the idea of doing an entirely aluminum board or a Carbon Fiber composite board with a foam core; but the shear materials alone were out of our grasp. I still have that intent and drive to take Unhappy Sk8 to the next tier, but we’re still striving to get there.
This post is about how I was given the chance to spend a weekend with some wood working tools and design custom skateboards with my friends. I set out to design the ideal skateboard for me based on some design criteria:
It would need to be small and lightweight making it very portable for a college campus
It’s size and weight could not compromise the board’s strength- it has a withstand jumps and sudden impacts like flying off sidewalks, while being able to flex in order to absorb vibrations yet not snap.
The board would need to have the physical lines and contours I learned to look for in a deck after 8 years of skateboarding.
For the general shape, I decided upon a length of 23.5″ and a 7.5″ width. The board would have a 1/8″ concave and 3/8″ rocker, these curves would work to hug my foot and lock it in firmly when I push, and make the board plenty stronger.
In order to have a board that is both lightweight and strong, I selected 3mm cross-ply sheets of baltic birch plywood and I would fuse 3 sheets of this wood together with Tightbond 3 Ultimate Wood Glue.
To achieve the shape I had set out for, I cut three identical lateral profiles of my board out on a bandsaw, 6 pieces in total, to sandwich the wood in-between two sides of a mold. I screwed them all to a press, and shimmed the left and right bottom pieces of the mold up 1/8″ and shaved an 1/8″ off the tops of the opposite side- this gave me the concave I sought out for. The press was assembled with large bolts I could tighten down and apply pressure with in order to form the plywood. The results speak for themselves:
Seeing the blank skateboard as a new canvas, I painted it and sprayed the character logo of my brand, UnhappySk8
After helping Capsule Boardshop relocate their store front, I was left with around 20 old skateboards that kids had donated to the shop at various points in time.
I made a frame and screwed some boards together
Pretty much done, I just need to give it some legs
Finally fit for sitting-
After several days of conversation with Zach Viele, the owner of The Pucks, a company that produces pucks for longboard slide gloves, we reached the conclusion that we could have a mutually beneficial business relationship. He needed gloves to put his pucks on, and my LDPE slide pucks still wear down faster than I’d like, and they’re a burdon for me to produce.
Preemptively, I got excited by the idea of UnhappySk8 sponsoring the slide-jam event after the first one, last year, was such a success.
To start, I tore apart a perfectly good Trophy I urged my dad to buy me when I graduated Pre-School…
I put a hole in it for a button to sit in the base.
Then, I ran wires out of the base-
Now up the columns of the Trophy, I played around with keeping the gold piece at the top, but I ultimately tossed it.
To make this award shine, I soldered up one of my LED slide pucks, and casted it in polyester resin
I now had a Led infused resin puck at the top of my trophy!
Here it is all lit up:
I snuck a transparency of the UnhappySk8 logo in the resin as it dried.
And finally, here’s the trophy is at the Greenwich 2nd Annual Slide Jam!
I just recently got packaging of the finished slide gloves setup, I just put them in a Zip-loc bag with a custom made label stapled over the top, but simplicity is never a bad thing!
And I have eight more pairs almost ready
- Goatskin Leather gloves
- Plastic Dip Finger tips
- Custom LDPE pucks with slide pucks
- Cut to fit velcro
And of course, a pile of pucks being made!
The past week I’ve been playing with different material for the slide pucks.
So far I’ve tested-
- Slid like butter, but too slippery to bother with
- Corian (Acrylic)
- These chip
- They’re loud
- Low Density Polyethylene
- Cast Epoxy Resin
I’ve even go as far as to try Epoxy resin pucks with 3v Green LEDs embedded in them.
These are demanding to make, slide poorly, and seem to be prone to shattering. On the other hand though (HA!), these pucks make skating at night much safer, cars can see me signal from afar.
So I really wanted to make an aluminum honey combed board after being inspired by a brand called Cindrich. I set out to CAD it after quickly realizing I could one-up this company and I didn’t even have the money to just buy the one I linked to so instead I modeled it in Inventor:
The next step was to scale it down and CAM out a prototype in Mastercam
I cut down my stock of Lexan and let the CNC machine go to work.
I have now hit a roadblock, seeing as the billet of 6061 aluminum needed to make this board would run me $200. On top of that, I need to find a machineshop that would be willing to help me machine this without charging an exorbitant amount of money. Besides the inherent costs, I’d be left with a fairly boring longboard, without an industrial sized press I’d have a board with neither rocker nor concave; and that’s no fun.