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Contents

Introduction

Techniques

Snow, Land, Boat & Night

Buy, Design, Build & Repair

Teaching & Schools

More Info

Building Kiteboard

There are a number of web sites related to building kiteboards.  These sites, are mostly for the dedicated hobbyist using traditional design concepts and limitations (rocker, fins, exotic materials, etc).  This page will attempt to help you to design and build a beautiful, inexpensive bidirectional kiteboard in much less time (1 working hour or less) and function as well as than the traditional designs. 

[While the designs on this page work very well for an experienced kiters, they may not be suitable for a beginner learning the sport.  A beginner may benefit from all the design efforts in a school/beginner board which make learning easier and faster].

board10.jpg (9669 bytes)
2 "less is more" pine boards

First Generation: Less Is More

One of the basic elements of kiteboard design we have found is that "less is more" or more specifically finless and "rockerless":

  1. A sailboard needs fins to go upwind, a kiteboard uses its edge as the fin.  There is no need to have fins on a bidirectional kiteboard (fins are still useful on a directional kiteboard for directional purposes).
  2. Both sailboard and wakeboard need rocker to get planning; furthermore a sailboard also needs rocker to get over the chops.  There is no need to have rocker on a kiteboard as the kite provides more than enough vertical lift to get the board planning and due to the incline riding position, a kiteboard does not need rocker to pass over the chops.

Hyperlite Roam 2005
2005 finless wakeboard from Hyperlite

The Material & Tools

To build a "less is more" bidirectional kiteboard, you need the following materials and tools:

  1. A piece of rectangular wood as long as your chest and roughly as wide as your shoulder width.  You can use cheap plywood or better and nicer looking wood such as pine or oak (pine and oak panels up to 16" or 40 cm in width and 8' in length are available at Home Depot - if you use pine and oak panels, make sure to have at least 4 coats of coating to make it stronger).  The thickness of the wood should be from 1/2" to 3/4" or 12 mm to 19 mm.  The thinner the wood, the more flex the board has.  The thicker the wood, the stronger the board is. A 16"X4' pine panel cost around $10 US at Home Depot.
  2. A pair of windsurfing footstraps (can be bought at any windsurfing store).
  3. A pair of wakeboarding heel straps (can be bought at any wakeboarding store).  This is not necessary if you only want footstraps.
  4. 2 screws (#14 X 1")  to screw the footstraps and heel straps on to the board. 1 or 2 screws (#14 X 3/4") to attach the board leash.
  5. Some rope and kite lines with a carabineer to make a board leash (if you use board leash).
  6. A power saw (or a hand saw) to cut the board into shape.
  7. A power sanding machine to sand the edges of the board.
  8. Some coating material.  Simple hardwood floor varnish would work fine and make a beautiful pine or oak kiteboard (select the new plastic varnish type and water base for ease of working and cleaning the hands and brushes. E.g., water base Varathane is an excellent choice).

The 7 Board Building Steps

  1. Draw the shape of the board on your rectangular piece of wood.  A simple rectangular shape (as long as your chest and as wide as your shoulder width) with 4 round corners would work fine.  For a more refined board shape, it is better to draw a board "corner" on a piece of paper and then cut the paper and use it to draw the all the "corners" on the board.
  2. Cut the board into the desired shape using a power saw (or hand saw).

    board1.jpg (12273 bytes)
    The new board has been cut into desired shape

     

  3. Sand the edges of the board.  A "neutral edge" (a simple bottom up and top down sanding to have the top and the bottom surface meet in the middle at the edge) would be fine.  Round up the edge slightly otherwise it would be too dangerous.  Use coarse sand paper first and then fine sand paper for finishing touches. This step is the most laborious of the whole board building process.  To speed up the process, you may want to use a planer before using the power sander

    board3.jpg (14536 bytes)
    The new board has been sanded nicely

     

  4. Coat the board with the selected coating material.  Put multiple layers (normally 3) for strength and to make sure the water will not get into the board.

    board4.jpg (18867 bytes)
    The new board is hung by its leash to be varnished

     

  5. Determine your stance width by closing your eyes then jump up and land with both of your feet. The distance between the center of your feet is roughly your stance width.  The footstraps should have about 15 to 21 degrees flare on both side (duck stance) and the distance between the center of the straps is your stance width.  The distances from each foot-strap to its closet respective board tip are equal.  Your heel should be 1" to 2" from the edge of the board.

    board5.jpg (7703 bytes)
    The new board is ready for footstraps

     

  6. Screw the footstraps and heel straps on to the board.

    board6.jpg (8752 bytes)
    The new board is now ready for riding

     

  7. If you want a board leash, screw 1 or 2  (#14 X 3/4) screws near the center of one tip of the board.  Tie a short kite flying line to the screws (make sure the pull on the line is distributed evenly on both screws if you are using 2 screws).  Using lark's head knot, tie the flying line to a 5mm rope (non-stretch) around 6' - 10' long.  Tie a carabineer to the end of a rope.   You need to have a metal ring on your harness to attach or detach the board leash.

Voila! You now have a board that would function as well as or better any traditional kiteboards but look beautiful (if you use pine) and almost "costless".

How to Ride

Riding a "less is more" kiteboard is identical to a traditional kiteboard; however, there are two techniques that would enable you to enjoy the board better:

  • Use the vertical lift of the kite to help the board planning.  Since the board has no rocker, it is slightly harder for the board to get planning.  It is therefore wise to make use the vertical lift of the kite to get the board on top of the water sooner when starting.
  • Use the board edge more effectively.  Without any fin, a "less is more" kiteboard is slightly harder to edge than a traditional kiteboard.  The board feels very loose until it gets a firm edge in the water.   It is wise to edge the board sooner (before the boards get out of the control) than a traditional kiteboard.

Fine Tuning

Since finless, rockerless wood boards are so easy and inexpensive to build, you can experiments with many elements of the board to your taste and conditions.

  1. The board length and width (the more surface area, the less power you need from the kite; however the more surface area, the clumsier the board becomes)
  2. The board shape (any board shape you can think of, from convex side shape like a wakeboard to a concave side shape like a snowboard to straight siding or any combination thereof).
  3. The rail edge (neutral edge, bottom up edge, top down edge, sharp edge, round edge, etc.).

    boardrail.jpg (17624 bytes)
    Neutral rail (left) versus bottom up rail (right).  Note that neither of the boards has any rocker except for the "rail rocker"

     

  4. The foot-strap positions (the width between straps, the distance between heel to board edge, the degree of duck stance, etc.).

Be inventive and send me the pictures, specs of your boards and your experiences riding them..

Second Generation: Amphibious Board

After the first generation boards, we decided to experiment with non-traditional shape and came up with the amphibious shape that should work well both on snow and water (i.e., snowboard shape without the side cut in the middle).  The advantage of such narrow snowboard shape is that we can build boards from standard 8' x 1' lumber which is much stronger than plywood or panels.

We found that the tip kickers do help when the board is "submarining" under the water (not enough power from the kite during lull) and the tips kickers also do help to make the board plan sooner.  However, we also found that too much tip kickers also make the board slower and not very maneuverable on the water.  So for the second generation boards, we added around 1 cm (around the thickness of the wood) of tip kicker for each tip.  

We found that the "top down" rail is the best rail for holding an edge to go upwind or jump.  We also found that the "top down" rail needs some tip rocker otherwise it tends to submarine during lull.

So the combination of "top down" rail and 1 cm of tip rockers is the best combination so far and we used that for our second generation amphibious board.

The result works real well.  We built 2 boards, one very small 120 X 25 cm and one slightly longer 140 X 25 cm.  They work extremely well when power up and the smaller board (120 X 25) is dynamite in such condition.

 

Take notes of the snowboard shapes of those boards compare to a wakeboard and a snowboard. Compare these new wood board to the Hyperlite 2007 Roam finless wakeboard


2007 finless wakeboard from Hyperlite

 Here are some more picture of our Amphibious boards:

[The 140cm board is a great moderate wind board and the 120cm is wicked in strong wind. I have lost the 140cm and have broken the 120cm (in 30 to 50 knots wind using a 5m Waroo).  I would like to make a new 120cm for those strong wind days].


Other Home Made Boards

From Manoel Fonseca in Brazil

"Hello Hung, I did my kiteboard with 10mm marine pine plywood, did 45 cut with jigsaw, self made EVA pads, windsurf footstraps, regular heel straps and old windsurf G10 fins trimmed. dimensions136cm x 38cm x 10mm, rocker2,5cm, 3 kg"

otherwoodboard.jpg (20120 bytes)


From Sipke Diepbrink in Holland

First one is 165x40. 4 layers 4 mmply one glass 200g/m and build in rocker with rocker table. Just when I found out about your site I decided to let the fins go. Made one mistake about the attachements of the footstraps so had to use some bolts to get them in place.



Second is a MFL 170x40. After example of Zeroprestige I added simple
cloth with print to give it a nicer look. 




From Diego Fonda in Italy

Ciao Hung,
Ho costruito la mia tavola con 3 strati di compensato marino da 4mm ciascuno.  Le
misure sono 142,5cm X 39cm X 1,2cm, 4 kg, rocker 4,5cm, le pinne sono in resina. Ciao

[Note: "142,5 cm" means 142.5 cm in English - what a beautiful board]

Even a more beautiful board from our artist kitesurfer Diego Fonda in Italy:

141-39-1.5 3.6kg 2cm rocker.3 strati di compensato marino


From Scott at @emirates.net.ae 

Thought you might be interested in this one. Made from marine ply. Laminated to give rocker. Teak veneer on the bottom and silk print on top. Unfortunately a little heavy. This is proto number 1, number 2 was hollow and very light. Number 3 is well underway. Ply is a good medium to use as it is easy to work and flexible. Keep at them.



From Sid in Florida

Hey Hung!

I actually got a 99cm wake-skate, a 107cm kiteboard/wakeboard, and a 135cm kiteboard/wakeboard out of one slab of 1/2in. plywood. I used polyester resin instead of urethane or varnish. I used some fiberglass on top to make the boards Tonka tough, but the resin was a bit more expensive and harder to work with. I suggest sticking with a good polyurethane - I will if I make any more boards. 
I was able to get a bunch of fins for $1.00 each from a local wakeboard cable park. At this price, it was easy to cut on the fins and experiment with a couple of shapes. I snagged some binding
plates at a boat store for $30.00, and fitted some old windsurf footstraps to them. It works out pretty nice. 3 boards for under $75.00 - Not too shabby. Thanx for pointing us in the right direction! Have a good one!


From Simon King in Ottawa, Canada


Looks very professional!


From Brent in Ottawa, Canada


Another nice one!


Light wind skim board


From Patrick Vogl in Germany

Board out of pine wood, length: 1,40m width: 39cm. Weigth: 4.8 Kilos :(( (next time less than 2cm thickness). Normal red wood paint. Tribals and writing with waterproof black pen and covered with clear varnish for additional covering.
Bindings from my surfboard. Heelstraps will follow...


From Simone Politi in Italy

Ciao Hung,
scusa se non ti scrivo in inglese, ma non sono molto pratico.
Questa la prima tavola che costruisco, fatta da uno strato di compensato da 1,2cm , le misure sono 140cm x 39cm x 3cm di rocker, peso completa di straps,pinne,pads,maniglia 4,2kg.
E'stata fatta tutta con materiale "riciclato", unica spesa la resina poliestere per impermeabilizzarla (7 euro). Le pinne sono in plastica, le straps sono vecchie straps da windsurf, i pads sono ricavati da una vecchia pancera di neoprene, la maniglia ricavata da un pezzo di tubo rigido per irrigazione.
La prova in acqua stata pi che positiva, v benissimo, unico neo il peso non proprio contenuto, ma accettabile.
Ciao, Simone (Italia)

Translated to English by Google:

Hello Hung,
excuse if I do not write to you in English, but is not much practical one.
This is the first table that I construct, is made from a plywood layer from 1,2cm, the measures is 140cm x 39cm x 3cm of rocker, complete weight of straps, fins, pads, handle 4,2kg. E'stata made all with recycle material, only expense the resin polyester in order to waterproof it (7 euro). The fins are in plastic, the straps are old straps from windsurf, the pads are gain to you from an old pancera of neoprene, the handle are obtained from a piece of rigid tube for irrigation.
The test in water has been more than positive, v very well, only neo is the weight not just content, but acceptable.
Hello, Simone (Italy)


From Pablo Martinez in Brazil

Hi all, I'm pablo living in Brazil, and make my board for light wind. See in
the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7Qg54Dw41o now think make an foil
kite.

Good by for all

Pablo Martinez


From Adriano Levorse in Brazil at http://www.kiteboard.ubbihp.com.br/

Hi, Hung.

My name is Adriano and Im from Brazil. I like your site very much! I builted a kiteboard and a web site to show how. The host is http://www.kiteboard.ubbihp.com.br/. There is an English version too. If you would like to show my board in your site, I am sending some pictures of it.

Thanks, and good winds!

Adrianol


From Charlie Cole, UK


Thought you might like to see what i knocked up during school holidays in naples. made from pine board 4ft by 16" 15mm thick some paint, varnish and bolts from the local 'brico'. windsurfing straps at a local sports shop for 8 euros, bargain board costing about 20 quid because i dont have any money, spent it on the kite! charlie cole


 

 


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