Designing a Skateboard

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

Prototype Board

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.

Electric skateboard?

What do you do when you have the remains of a Mountain board– essentially a longboard with 12″ axles and 8″ diameter inflatable wheels, and parts from an old Razor Scooter?

The correct answer would probably be to throw them both out, but I had something else in mind. I tried my best to make an electric longboard skateboard from my spare parts.

Don’t get me wrong, the board was built well and was very sturdy, but there were just inherent flaws with my idea.

One problem I ran into was really silly. While trying to turn the board, I found out it was easier for the board itself to actually lean, rather than the truck pivot and let me give the board any directional input.

This didn’t work in the slightest, but I like to think I learned from it.

Custom Light Riser

I felt the need for a longboard light after I was skating in Florida in my Grandparent’housing complex. The prospect of sharing a road with nearsighted drivers without some way to illuminate myself was scary. There are already pre-made lights for skateboards, but they’re all so cumbersome with bulky battery packs. I figured I could keep it all self-contained, right underneath the truck.

For inspiration, I based my CAD off a Khiro Riser.

First I CAD’d it Mastercam and used it’s computer aided machining program to create G-Code for my school’s CNC to interpret

Then I sent the codes to the CNC machine and let it run, and I mounted a switch to the edge of it

Next, I tested how well it should light up

Here it is fully wired!

Now here it is finished up and on a longboard!