His handcrafted wooden surfboards are a throwback to ancient Hawaii

His handcrafted wooden surfboards are a throwback to ancient Hawaii
Published: Feb. 12, 2018 at 4:39 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2018 at 5:50 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KAHALUU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At his home in Kahaluu, Tom "Pohaku" Stone examines a line-up of wooden surfboards in varying degrees of completion or restoration.

He's crafting them in the old Hawaiian way — an art that's been almost lost in modern times.

"My go-to tools are hand tools. Crafting with stone (tools), you're chipping away. It's very time-consuming," he said.

The smallest boards he makes are only about 3 feet long and reminiscent of the boards ancient Hawaiians used for bodysurfing.

The longest boards look like the wooden ones Duke Kahanamoku surfed with.

"They're actually preserving a moment in history," Stone said.

Stone worked for years as a lifeguard before turning to his craft full time.

He began surfing as s child, and his first surfboard was a wooden one made by his father.

Through talk-stories with his father and uncles, then studying Hawaiian history and cultural practices, he learned the art of hand-carving surfboards out of woods like ulu, wiliwili, kukui and koa.

"The reason I focus so much on that wood is to understand how my kupuna was so good at what they did in making boards," he said.

Stone holds a master's degree in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaii. His boards are bought by collectors and surfers who want to ride wooden boards. Some of his work has been displayed in museums around the world.

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