Make Your Own DIY Kiteboard (Bidirectional Board).
There are a number of websites 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 board in much less time (1 working hour or less) that functions as well as the traditional designs.
Table of Contents
Kitesurf Board Design For The Experienced
While the designs on this page work very well for an experienced kiter, 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 makes learning easier and faster.
Two DIY pine boards.
Flat Finless Kiteboard
- 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 kitesurfing-board (fins are still useful on a directional kiteboard for directional purposes).
- Both sailboard and wakeboard need a rocker to get planning; furthermore, a sailboard also needs a rocker to get over the chops. There is no need to have a 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 a rocker to pass over the chops.
2005 finless wakeboard from Hyperlite.
Bidirectional Kitesurfing Board Material & Tools
- 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 costs around $10 US at Home Depot.
- A pair of windsurfing foot straps (can be bought at any windsurfing store).
- A pair of wakeboarding heel straps (can be bought at any wakeboarding store). This is not necessary if you only want foot-straps.
- 2 screws (#14 X 1″) to screw the footstraps and heel straps onto the board. 1 or 2 screws (#14 X 3/4″) to attach the board leash.
- Some rope and kite lines with a carabineer to make a board leash (if you use a board leash).
- A power saw (or a hand saw) to cut the board into shape.
- A power sanding machine to sand the edges of the board.
- 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).
DIY Twin-Tip Kitesurf Board (Step-By-Step)
- 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 all the “corners” on the board.
- Cut the board into the desired shape using a power saw (or hand saw).
The new board has been cut into desired shape.
- 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 sandpaper first and then fine sandpaper 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.
The new board has been sanded nicely.
- 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.
The new board is hung by its leash to be varnished.
- 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 foot straps should have about 15 to 21 degrees flare on both sides (duck stance) and the distance between the center of the straps is your stance width. The distances from each foot-strap to its closest respective board tip are equal. Your heel should be 1″ to 2″ from the edge of the board.
The new board is ready for footstraps.
Screw the footstraps and heel straps on to the board.
- 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.
The new board is now ready for riding.
How to Ride Your Kiteboard
- 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 of 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 control) than a traditional kiteboard.
Fine Tuning Your Flat Kitesurf Board
- 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)
- 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).
- The rail edge (neutral edge, bottom-up edge, top-down edge, sharp edge, round edge, etc.).
Neutral rail (left) versus bottom-up rail (right). Note that neither of the boards has any rocker except for the “rail rocker”.
- 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.
Allround Kiteboards – For Snowboarding As Well
After the first generation boards, we decided to experiment with non-traditional shapes and came up with the amphibious shape that should work well both on snow and water (i.e., snowboard shape without the sidecut in the middle). The advantage of such a 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 a lull) and the tip kickers also do help to make the board plan sooner. However, we also found that too much of 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 really 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.
Compare These Wood Boards
Take notes of the snowboard shapes of those boards to compare to a wakeboard and a snowboard. Compare these new wood boards to the Hyperlite 2007 Roam finless wakeboard.
2007 finless wakeboard from Hyperlite.
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 Homemade Kiteboards
Below, you find some real-life examples of homemade boards. Some are made of plywood, others are rocky boards or flat.
DIY Plywood Kitesurf Board
From Manoel Fonseca in Brazil:
“Hello Hung, I did my kiteboard with 10mm marine pine plywood, did 45º cut with a jigsaw, self-made EVA pads, windsurf foot straps, regular heel straps and old windsurf G10 fins trimmed. dimensions136cm x 38cm x 10mm, rocker2,5cm, 3 kg”
DIY Rocker Surfboard (finless)
From Sipke Diepbrink in Holland: First one is 165×40. 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.
Another DIY Rocker Kitesurfboard (no fins)
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!
Ply Rocker Kitesurfing Board
From Scott at emirates.net.ae: Thought you might be interested in this one. Made from marine ply. Laminated to give rocker. The 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.
DIY Kiteboard or Wakeboard In Plywood
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 foot straps to them. It works out pretty nicely. 3 boards for under $75.00. Not too shabby. Thanx for pointing us in the right direction! Have a good one!
Light wind skim board.
DIY Pine Wood Kitesurfingboard
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 redwood paint. Tribals and writing with waterproof black pen and covered with clear varnish for additional coverage. Bindings from my surfboard. Heel straps will follow.
DIY Home Made Rocker Board
From Simone Politi in Italy:
Hello Hung, excuse if I do not write to you in English, but is not a much practical one. This is the first table that I construct, is made from a plywood layer of 1,2cm, the measure is 140cm x 39cm x 3cm of rocker, the complete weight of straps, fins, pads, handle 4,2kg. 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 windsurfing, the pads are gain to you from an old Pantera of neoprene, the handle is obtained from a piece of rigid tube for irrigation. The test in water has been more than positive, và very well, the only neo is the weight, not just content, but acceptable. Hello, Simone (Italy)
From Adriano Levorse in Brazil:
My name is Adriano and I am from Brazil. I like your site very much! I built a kiteboard and a website to show how. There is an English version too. If you would like to show my board on your site, I am sending some pictures of it.
Thanks, and good winds!
Homemade Pinewood Kiteboard by Charlie
From Charlie Cole, UK: Thought you might like to see what I knocked up during the 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 don’t have any money, spent it on the kite! /Charlie Cole