All About Longboard Construction – From A to Z!
Early Construction & Evolution over Time
In earlier times longboards were mostly homemade, surprised? Yes, the wheels were taken from old and outdated roller skates and were attached to the board or as it used to be called a wooden plank. Teenagers specifically were a master in creating these boards but they were really small in size which made it difficult for teenagers to perform their stunts and tricks. In the 1970s, longboarding took a drastic turn in terms of construction and as an activity as well. It was the time when urethane wheels appeared. These wheels were strong as compared to the roller skates wheels and provided strength plus faster speed to longboarders. Over the period of time, somewhere in the 1990s, the longboarding tricks were popularized. So, longboarding became a serious sport with competitions and a mode of transportation.
A Longboard Construction – Comprehensive Guide
What are longboards made of? There are various components that join together to make a single longboard. These include deck, bushing or trucks, and wheels.
1. The Main and Core Component Is A Deck.
A number of layers of woods that are used to create a deck are called plys. Board’s decks can be a single solid piece of wood but longboard decks are usually made up of almost up to eleven (11) layers of plywood. The thickness of each layer is 2 millimeters. Decks are mostly made up of birch, bamboo, maple or oak wood. Plywood has a clear finish that makes the surface look bright and neat therefore it is considered to be a good choice for making decks. Unlike normal plywood that comes in 4×8 sheets, it comes in 5×5 foot sheets of a metric thickness. It machines beautifully with woodworking tools.
Constructing a longboard Deck
Here you should know that normal regular plywood is not strong enough so it is always better to make your own plywood using either maple or birch wood. It also involves using special glue, layering each ply in different directions. To give a certain concave and bend the board is then pressed really at any appreciable degree to achieve desired concaveness. The force required to carry out this procedure is pounds of force over an extended period. The choice of glue makes a huge difference. The boards are then cut out and shaped. This stage demands heavy machinery like belt sanders, jigsaw and band saws. The final step in constructing a longboard deck is drilling the truck holes. These holes are drilled perfectly in line.
Bamboo, maple, birch and hybrid or composite are most widely used materials to make longboard bases of the deck. Below is the overview of each one of its kind.
Bamboo boards are comparatively lighter than the other denser and heavy material boards. It contains five to nine ply of wood compressed together to form a single board. Boards that are made up of bamboo are good at absorbing bumps and cracks and provide a ton of flex and spring to the rider. This flex allows riders to lean deeper and harder into their board and let the board absorb the weight transfer in order to make sharper more crisp turns. These flexible bamboo made boards are used for cruising and carving. They are intended to use at lower speeds because the spring quality of the board can potentially contribute to riders getting the DEATH WOBBLES while straight lining at high speeds. Bamboo boards can also be used for casual sliding, but these are not recommended if the desired riding style is mainly big hill sliding. The recommended safe riding styles for bamboo longboards are; cruiser, freestyle, and dancing.
Maple is a hard and sturdy wood. Five to ten plys of wood are layered in an alternating pattern with bamboo to make a board. The mixing of maple ply with bamboo makes it less heavy. If all the plys are made up of maple then the board becomes pretty heavy and does not remain practical to be used as longboarding deck. Downhill riders prefer to go for such longboards. Depending upon the size and shape maple wood board is used for downhill, free ride, and technical street setup.
Birch is the category that falls between bamboo and maple in terms of weight. 9 to 12 plys makes it a heavy and stiff board but they do provide flex which makes them versatile and a longboarder on birch board can have both maple and bamboo board qualities/abilities. These boards are cheaper than maple and bamboo boards. Recommended riding styles and setups are downhill, free ride, cruiser, freestyle, and dancing.
Hybrid & Composite
It is the combination of fiber glass and wood. The wood used can be maple or bamboo. They are similar to bamboo boards in springiness as the construction with fiber glass provides that spring character to it. Since these boards are compressed easily they can withstand more pressure without breaking into a half. Different companies provide varying flexes on a chart for hybrid boards such as Flex 1- up to 270 lb. rider, Flex 2- 130 lb. – 210 lb. rider, and Flex 3- 80 lb- 170 lb rider. These boards are good for cruiser, freestyle and dancing setup.
2. Trucks and Wheels
T-shaped metal pieces are the trucks of the longboards. Every longboard requires 2 trucks of 150 mm or 180mm. Longboard trucks are made up of axle, hanger, kingpin and bushings.
The large wheels size of a long board falls between 64-80mm in diameter. They are made up of polyurethane which ranges in hardness. A good longboard has its durometer range between 75a-85a which makes a board softer.
So whatever kind of longboard you buy, you will always find that it has always this basic construction because that’s what are longboards made of. Read reviews at our site to find out what can be your next best longboard!