Do It Yourself Cheap Plywood Kiteboard:
All DIY plywood kiteboards can be made at a very low cost. Basic woodworking skills are all that is needed. The boards tend to be a bit on the heavy side for big-time jumping but perform extremely well for general riding.
I have made two so far: 165 x 45 TT and 150 x 40 TT and have two more in the pipeline.
The cost and time for construction are so low that I think this is a good way to experiment with shapes and sizes and then maybe construct something with more exotic materials.
Plywood Board Construction
3 layers of 3.6mm ply glued up.
Fins bolted through from the Top.
Footstraps Bolted through from the bottom with countersunk heads.
Sharp rails + a few coats of varnish.
Kiteboard Construction Detail
First, cut out 2 or 3 rocker formers.
I used 2 bits of 5” x 1”. Draw the required rocker on and cut out (A bandsaw or jigsaw helps here). This picture shows the rocker’s formers laid out on a flat surface.
Laying Up The Board
Now the three layers are glued up on the rocker formers in one go. At this point the layers are oversize. The outline is cut out later. This shows the first layer on the rocker formers.
Set rocker formers on a flat surface.
Lay down the first sheet of ply
Lay down the next sheet.
Lay Down The Last Sheet
Three (or more if you have got them) big sacks of sand on top. (Dry stuff will ’flow’ better & apply pressure more evenly than wet stuff). I also G-clamped in a few places mainly to stop the layers sliding around while the glue sets.
Kiteboard Plywood Material
In the UK there seems to be 3 commonly available grades:
Exterior (WBP) Water resistant
I used cheapo stuff for the first one (because it was lying around). However, I would recommend an exterior grade (as I have done for the follow-up boards).
Adhesive: On the 1st board I used a waterproof PVA adhesive because that’s what I had in my workshop. It is holding up OK but I haven’t got a huge amount of faith in it.
On the 2nd board, I used Epoxy (West system) which I think is better. Any boat-builders glue (noncontact adhesive) should do OK, for example, Cascamite.
Cutting Out The Board
- Trace around a mate’s board.
- Find some plans.
- Find a picture and scale it up.
- Get creative and make one up.
My 1st was similar in shape to a Litewave 169. A bit shorter (and less rocker).
So, trace round your template and cut out (Jigsaw).
Sand and/or plane the outline so it’s a smooth curve. Plane (or use a router) the desired rail shape. This should be sharp but not so sharp as to cut you or be very fragile.
At this stage drill all your holes for fins, foot straps, leash, etc. Make them slightly oversize to compensate for the varnish that goes in later. Even better make them very oversize (eg 12mm for a 6mm bolt) and then fill with epoxy filler and re-drill to the correct size after finishing.
Countersunk stainless bolts from the bottom for footstraps. Whatever is required for fins.
I ended up using a separate countersunk stainless bolt from the bottom for leash attachment.
Several coats of Yacht varnish give a good hard finish. On my 2nd board, I made the 1st coat an epoxy resin. The finish is better.
Footpads can be cut out of a good quality closed-cell foam mat (as sold for camping mattresses). Use a good one ‘cos the cheap stuff crushes permanently. Aerosol contact adhesive (used for carpet fitting) is good to stick it down.
Footstraps can be robbed from an old windsurfer or bought from a windsurfing/kitesurfing store.
The Finished DIY Kiteboard
On Board 1 I used some cheap and non-matching fins.
On Board 2 I made my own fins. Made wax molds of one of the originals and cast fins in epoxy resin. They are ok in the water but will probably bust on the first ride up a beach!
How Do The Boards Ride
Initial thoughts were it was a bit heavy and flexible compared to “real” boards but on the water F***ING BRILLIANT.
Very easy to use. No unpleasant surprises. Rips upwind like nothing else. Verrrrry Smooooooooth.
This might not be the best spinny jumping machine. However, it is THE cruising board.
The board doesn’t float very high on the surface. When maneuvering the board around, to get ready to start, it can have a tendency to submarine, particularly in stronger winds. This is easily overcome by always ensuring the downwind edge is tilted up thus driving the board to the surface.
Initially, I found this quite hard to ride but after a couple of hours it came together. I had never been riding a board this small before and suspect it takes a little time to acquire the skill set to ride a small board.
I’ve been over the front edge a few times in big waves (not enough rocker or lousy riding skills?).
They are in the workshop.
3 is another 150 x 40 TT, more rocker (6cm , the first one had ~4cm) and a flat spot (for 50cm) in the center.
4 is a light wind job (160 x60).