HONOLULU (KHNL)- With the slip and slide of a sanding pad, Mike Woo works up a rhythm creating his newest ride!
Woo is one of Hawaii's top surfboard shapers and designers, and the orders pile up fast.
"It's years and years of hard work," Woo explains, "Trying designs and surfing them. It's a really hard field to be in because there is no school that teaches anyone these skills and that's why there are only a few really good surfboard shapers out there."
Woo has been doing this for 17 years. He shapes about a thousand boards every year at Progressive Shapes Hawaii LLC on Ualena Street in Honolulu.
But today, with Woo's guidance, I will be taking over his job and shaping one of his specially-ordered boards!
First, Woo hands me a mask and goggles and a large sanding pad.
We start with an order form from a customer, then enter the dimensions of the board into a computer. A high-tech machine then automatically cuts the board to fit Woo's design.
Next, I roll up my sleeves to "get shaping"!
We head to the shaping room, lay the board on a platform, and begin sanding down the lines by hand.
It takes a lot of elbow grease to smooth it all out, but I'm careful not to sand too much because that could ruin the board.
"I think you did a great job," says Woo inspecting my work. "Not bad for a first time!"
Now comes the hard part. Sanding is one thing, keeping your hand steady with a power tool, I learn, is another!
Electric sander in hand, my next task is to carefully sand off the tip of the surfboard without putting too much pressure on the board.
I very cautiously sand it off and am almost finished making my very first custom board!