Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Striper in the lineup

Just finished the latest Striper 6'4. Check it out...DT your board is ready!

More photos are available via the Builders Forum.(navigate to the "Projects" thread).

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Winds of change

As I write these words, a low-pressure system is churning its way up the North Atlantic latitudes. Under an ominous sky, strong winds offshore whip the Gulfstream into a fury of confused seas. All of us ashore can feel grateful that we are not in a small boat at sea.

But in the context of a huge ocean, all storms are local and ephemeral. Time and fetch sort out the chaos and mellow the drama. Within a day or two, things will be different. Here on the coast of New England, we’ll enjoy warm sunny skies, light offshore breezes, and clean green trains of swell.

And so it is too, that the winds of change have arrived at the shores of GSb.

Over the past few months, it has become clear that Mike and I have tended to gravitate toward different aspects of the business. So, we’ve come to an amicable agreement to separate our efforts. We’ve decided it would be best if Mike focused solely on building and selling custom boards, while I direct my energies only toward developing kits, plans, and instructional media for the home board-builder. We feel this agreement best fulfils both of our common desires for the future of Grain Surfboards and frees each of us to get back to work doing what we love.

This site (grainsurfboards.com) will continue to be a point source for wooden surfboard enthusiasts. The homepage will serve as a portal through which both buyer, and builder can access what they want. So keep checking in during the coming weeks for more good news.

One thing is certainly clear; both Mike and I care deeply about wooden surfboards and the supportive community that has sprung to life. To maintain all of the stoke it deserves, I intend to enthusiastically promote and encourage Mike’s side of the business. I will now direct all potential board buyers to him (please email Mike directly for all new board orders). I also genuinely believe we will each do our best to keep the spirit of GSb alive and well. We are pretty psyched on the shape of things now... and to come.

In the meantime, I think it best to try and capitalize on some of the current offshore ocean fury. The buoys are reporting 10’-15’ groundswell now making its way in orderly succession westward. If the timing is right, I hope a few of those waves have my name on them. Mikey, I hope to see you in the lineup too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

GSb on TV

GSb is featured on a short spot airing every couple of hours on CurrentTV (Al Gore's venture into democratizing television).

Click above to watch it.

Personally, I'm pretty stoked that they are promoting the "green" side of things.

The piece was produced by Andrew Chapman of AC Imagery.

Let us know what you think.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Festivus for the restivus

According to their website, "Vermont Family Forests is a non-profit family forest conservation organization that promotes the conservation of forest community health, and when appropriate, promotes careful cultivation of local family forests for community benefits... VFF promotes management which provides for human needs while preserving the forest's capacity to maintain itself as a healthy, natural ecosystem."

Next week they are holding their 3rd annual Beltane Community Forest Festival.

"Come all ye lads and lassies, join in the festive scene.
Come dance around the maypole, that will stand upon the green."

Not sure I'll dance around the maypole, but this sounds like the kind of party for a tree hugger like me. See you there...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A 4/20 APB

Calling all "beta" builders: Please check in to GSb HQ via email for further instructions (you know who you are).

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Zoo in York

No not York Zoo.

For the past few weeks, pro surfer Ben McBrien has been gracing our basement workshop in York, ME. He surfs for Zoo York Institute, one of the oldest and most soulful skate/surf companies in the world.

Ben and I sat down and designed a Steve Lis inspired 5'4" fish. Now he's building two of them pretty much on his own using the GSb method. Not only can the guy rip water, he's can re-saw wood.

Stay tuned for the christening this spring.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sharing the stoke

A few weeks ago I got a call from a guy named Kevin. He was very interested in trying to build his own surfboard using the GSb technique. Turns out he lives right down the street (as he says, within a mile "as the crow flies"). He came to the shop a couple of times, we exchanged ideas, and then he set off to build himself a ten-footer. Today I visited him in his shop just to catch up.
Your board looks awesome Kevin, thanks for sharing the stoke!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

GSb on NPR

National Public Radio's "Only a Game" recently did a short story on us. Ferret around on the Only A Game website for pics, to listen, or find out when OAG airs on your local NPR station. Although in some ways I wish it was, this is not an April fools joke.

Surfs up so you know where to find us...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's a Cedar!

After much trial and error, it is with great pride, pleasure, and promise, I introduce thuja Occidentalis #1.

I'm handing out cigars.

UPDATE: On April 3rd, 2006, I counted 54 new sprouts (for a total of 77) . Me thinks I've got it dialed so I went ahead and planted another 500. If anyone out there wants to give this a try, send me an email with your address and I will reply with 50 seeds and instructions. You'll have to act quickly though as planting time is fast approaching.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

GSb Pot Bust

This post is in response to the previous one regarding the story by Josh Pierce, and particular the following part:


...La Vecchia answers the door wearing jeans covered in sawdust, a dust mask hanging from his neck....[he] leads me down the narrow stairs into the low-ceilinged basement of their rented house, where Blundell is checking on a hand-fashioned wood boiler—a 10-foot long, 4-inch diameter capped PVC pipe being filled with steam from a boiling pot sitting under one end of the pipe. Mike’s brother Nick pops his head down into the basement to warn Mike and Rich that his girlfriend will kill them if she finds out they are using her good pots to steam their wood.

“It’s just a prototype. If it works, we’ll get our own pots.”

Read the full article here: The Wire Magazine "Cold Swells."


Well Josh you've done a great job with this article - a great job getting us in trouble. We were in the clear until you just HAD to have your journalistic "integrity."

Allow me to explain. You see, the day you came to visit, yes it's true, we were experimenting with a home made steambox, and yes, I had carelessly grabbed one of Jess's VERY expensive pots to serve as the boiler. And Yes Nick did specifically warn us of her potential for displeasure if she found out, and that she was coming home to collect her pots that afternoon (she's a personal chef who cooks on-site).

But here's something you didn't know...

Because Jess was out all day, I had procrastinated in putting the beloved pot back in the kitchen cupboard. Then as I was sitting in the den, SHE CAME HOME. Knowing that the beloved pot was in the basement, still hooked up the the steam apparatus, I was overcome with a wave of dread.

I quickly devised a desperate plan.

I knew she would pass though the kitchen and go upstairs just for a moment to talk with Nick. So if I could time it just perfectly, and move like a NAVY Seal, it might just work. This moment would be my only window of opportunity to return the pot without her ever knowing.

I sprang into action.

I ran downstairs, extricated the beloved pot, and with it stuffed under my shirt, made a fast break for the kitchen. I could hear her at the top of the stairs (which land in the kitchen). So in absolute silence, I swiftly returned the beloved pot back to it's home shelf. As I was making my escape into the den, I glanced over my shoulder only to see her feet descending the stairs. I was sure she had busted me. With an undeniable look of guilt I, waited in the den for a much deserved scolding.

But instead, I heard her head straight for the cupboard, open it, collect her beloved pots, bring them out to her car, and leave.

By the skin of my teeth, I had made it... that is of course...until you printed your story. Nice going Josh!


Rich (guilty as charged - sorry Jess - Really)

GSb featured in "The Wire"

Grain Surfboards was just featured in "The Wire Magazine." Here's an excerpt;

From: The Wire Magazine
Date: 02/22/2006
By: Josh Pierce


...Everything in the basement seems to be a working prototype. Handmade wooden stands hold up the skeletons of several boards in various phases of construction. A layer of sawdust coats the floor. Low-slung ductwork blocks head space. Plastic sheeting hangs from the ceiling, separating the shop from the rest of the basement. Every few minutes a motor whirs to life for a few seconds. “That’s the sump pump,” LaVecchia explains. An 8-foot-long frame, the backbone of a board-to-be, sits on a stand, circular holes drilled out of its keel and frames. Laying on top of another board is a full-sized computer printout of its shape...


Read the full article here: The Wire Magazine "Cold Swells."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

bad news - good news

Thanks for all of your guesses. I know, that was pretty easy (especially considering the hint I gave you - maybe the question should have been - What was the hint?).

Anyway, the bad news is, my first attempt at parenting cedars has not gone well :(.

I planted the first batch of 100 unstratified Northern White Cedar (thuja Occidentalis) seeds on 12/09/06 and they have not germinated (and I don't think they will). No matter how much I talk to them and play the ukulele for them, they just sit there - nary a peep nor tendril. On some of the cups, a mold has begun to grow. I fear this mold and so do the seeds.

Here you can see no seedlings.

The good news - on the same day, I also put 100 seeds in a cold water "stratification" bath. This is one method used to encourage germination by softening the hard seed coat (similar to scarification by birds). This week I'll try again with a fresh greenhouse (and different ukulele songs). Wish us luck!

PS - You may be wondering why we've not been posting news about new boards, designs, DVD's and kits. Rest assured, we are hard at work developing these things and are getting ready for a new launch. We just want to do things the right way and the right way takes time. Thanks for your patience...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What are dees?

Post your guesses in the comments.

More in a few days...

Friday, January 27, 2006

RSS Site feed

This GSb News Page is now available via an RSS site feed. That means depending on your browser, you can view it in an outline form and get automatic updates whenever we post a new entry. Check your browser preferences for the RSS options to set it up. The link at right brings you to the atom.xml page.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

DVD etc. Update

Well after a delayed start, the how-to DVD has finally begun filming. It's been crazy at GSb because we've also got six boards underway (two 6'4 fish, an 8-footer, 2 9' Wings, a 10' Waterlog, and a couple custom fins).

And there is certainly plenty to film. To those of you waiting for boards (you know who you are), the rest of these photos show your boards underway. We're psyched to be building again.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Endless Winter meets Endless Summer

At the World Surf Expo we met up with Endless Summer and board-making legend Robert August. "Make'm flat boys, it's all about speed down the line with those retro fish" he said. We spent some time chatting about board design and snapped a quick photo. I guess we made an impression too. Later that day he was overheard talking about those grain guys.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

We just finished up a new board in the Wing Line. It's a beautiful custom 9' nose rider for a customer from New Jersey. The board has a squash tail, turned down rails in the tail transitioning to 50/50 for most of the length of the board, Some nice hollow in the nose and an in-house custom made glassed-on fin. Keep an eye out for it next time your surfing some Garden State waves.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

GSB Opens Trial "Stuff Store"

We've opened up a fully functional trial GSB "Stuff Store."
  • Check it out!
  • Friday, December 23, 2005

    "Tree to Sea" How-to DVD Update

    I'm pretty active on some of the better known Surfboard design forums, sharing ideas and insights with the surfboard building community (and it's surprisingly vast). It occured to us that a video DVD would be a great way to broadcast GSB methods and techniques. I have a fully equipped production company, so why not? We'll be keeping the camera in the shop to record the process of the next few boards in detail (including tips, tricks and trade secrets).

    Example Chapters will cover:

    * Board design and selection
    * Techniques for reverse engineering (acquiring key dimensions from an existing board)
    * Employing Computer Aided Design
    * Tools, safety, and supplies
    * Wood Types/qualities and Lumber Selection
    * Construction (Keel/Rocker, Frames, Re-sawing/Gluing Planks, Railing out)
    * Shaping
    * Glassing

    This is just the start. We're working on CNC routered kits too.

    If this interests you, or you have any suggestions, please let us know. Send an email to grainsurfboards@omniscopic.com to reserve your copy.

    Also keep checking back. We'll be posting sample clips as they become ready.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    1940's Waikiki remembered

    Here's the kind of email we love to get (Read it here).

    Sunday, December 18, 2005

    New fish joins the boardline

    Just off the glassing rack - a new fish joins the quiver. The "Flounder" is 6' x 22" x 2 3/4" with sweet five spine fish fins.
    Here is the first look but check our photo gallery soon for more shots.

    In the meantime here's a few more:

    Associated Press Covers GSB

    About three weeks ago we got a call from an AP reporter who wanted to do a story on GSB. On Sunday, December 18th, the story went national (to all AP papers across the country). We are very happy with the story.

    Here's a couple different versions:
    The Honolulu Star Bulletin
    Portland Maine Herald

    Check your local papers.

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    GSB signs major long-term deal with manufacturer

    In an effort to practice environmentally responsible ways, I've devised a plan to give a little back. I already spend plenty of time in the woods so this really wont be that hard. It's a very simple idea. I commit and promise to plant at least ten cedar seeds for every board we build (I asked mike to promise too and he agreed).

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Board Building Update

    We have two boards under construction right now in the shop, one is a 9' performance longboard, and the other is a 6'9" single fin. Both have been planked, and are in the process of having the rails put on. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to pull a board off the gluing table, give it a light sanding, and have the grain patterns shine through, and enhance the natural shape of a board. You're a surfer, you understand. You walk into a shop, and a board just grabs your attention. The shape is perfect, the rails are flawless, and the perfectly smooth finish draws your hands across the surface. Natural wood simply enhances this experience and draws your eyes deeper into the soul of the board.

    Here is the 9' just after the top planks have been glued on. It is the first time we truly get to see the shape of the board and breath a sense of relief.

    Perfect rocker, couldn't be happier.

    Here's Rich's single fin as the deck planks are getting glued on.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Good thing trees never go out of business

    I guess this is HUGE news in the surfing world:

    Clark Foam shut down by EPA

    Honestly, I've been too busy building boards to be following this issue. But a friend of mine said recently "Surfing never needed foam."

    Be that as it may - our longboard and single fin projects are coming out absolutley beautiful! Mike will have an update soon.

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    A warm workshop on a cold day

    Living in a small apartment in Burlington Vermont, I used to love spending winter days visiting friends who had wood shops in their garages, basements and barns. There is nothing better then building things in a warm shop filled with sharp tools on a snowy day. So I was excited when we moved to York to find that the our rented house had a big basement, and better yet a two car garage with ceilings that were just to low to allow a car to fit in. It wasn't long before we pushed all the storage boxes into the corner and turned the place into the home of Grain Surfboards.

    Rich's new fish awaiting a delivery of fiberglass and epoxy before it can be finished and ridden. This board's looking for a good home.

    I spent a lot of time looking for the right grain patterns for the new 9' nose rider I'm building for a customer from New Jersey. These planks are gonna look amazing with a gloss coat.

    This is the frame for the 9 footer. I am using a slightly new method to build this board. Instead of shaping each individual frame prior to assembly, I glued up the skeleton with the frames square and extra long. Once the bottom planks are glued on, I'll use the template to trace the shape, then cut the planks and frames all at once. This eliminates a lot of math (and potential for mistakes).

    To avoid stessing the framework when the planks get glued on, I built up our glueing table to match the rocker profile. Now I can clamp the planks to the frame without losing rocker.

    It feels good to look around the shop and see all the boards we're currently building in various states of construction. On a cold day, with no waves, there's no place I'd rather be!

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Back to the grind

    We've been commissioned to build a couple of boards. Mike has undertaken a custom 9-footer and I am begining a 6'9" retro single fin called the Samurai. I'll let Mikey tell you about his project, but for me, I'm experimenting with using my computer to help in the design phase. I drew keel and frame patterns in Illustrator. The idea is to print out these patterns full size and use them as templates. As of tonight, I've got my frames shaped.

    To the left you can see the Illustrator file I've generated (click on it for a bigger version).

    Here we are down in the workshop. Mike is showing off the deck template for his 9-footer and I'm punching numbers into my computer. By the way, that fish I'm using as a table is just awaiting a shipment of epoxy. Once it's glassed it will need a good home ($1250 call for details).

    Here you can see frame templates being dealt with at the kitchen table.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    It's hard getting in the car!

    After waking up in the morning to see perfect head high waves rolling right into your backyard break, why would you get in the car and drive an hour north to a mystery spot, with somewhat unknown conditions. That is what we were all thinking the other morning, trying to stay warm by wrapping ourselves around our coffe cups as we headed up 95 north. But when you pull up, and look east accross the marsh grass and see perfect waves and no one in the water except a few of your close friends, you know why.

    It's the dream of a simple life!

    Friday, November 25, 2005

    A little more publicity...

    This one came out of the blue Lycos Top 50 blogs for November 25th 2005

    Revisiting a fish - Part III

    OK, just to finish up this thread...
    Here's an earlier shot I found that I think is cool. It shows the Striper getting her planks clamped.
    Here you can see one of the pre-glass fins in place, the other fin slot routered out, and how the swallow tail rails are constructed. Wetting down the wood helps us see the fine details in seams.
    Here she is just about ready for final rail shaping.
    Here it's ready for finishing. There is Mikey's longboard on the left there too.
    All glassed and ready - I'm going surfing.

    GSB (etc) gets some press...

    Check out these three links:

    GSB featured in N'EAST Magazine story on the revival of the wooden surfboard download the pdf here.

    Richie B is caught in the act on Martha's Vineyard. Check out the cover shot and story in Martha's Vineyard Magazine.(photos taken by Nick Lavecchia - and please forgive the "not wooden board." This photo was taken a few years ago).

    Maybe a little off topic but what the heck, news is news Real Screen Magazine article

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Revisiting a fish - Part II

    Now, where was I... Oh right
    Here I'm laying the planks I've ripped out onto the frames. Your looking at the base towards the tail. In this early method, we used to have the keel (or stringer) extend up between the two primary (innermost) planks. We'd leave them proud and then plane them down to the deck surface later. Besides the nice stringer line, this method just adds an extra seam to seal and worry about. We've since solved the problem by keeping the whole frame structure inside the planks. Also visible in this picture are the fin reinforcements that span the last two frames.
    In this photo, the planks are all glued down (making a long story short) and I'm jigsawing the tail. On this fish, I experimented with a lamination technique for railing out the wings. Sorry the photo is kind of blurry, but what you see here are 24 layers of thinly-slied red cedar strips. They are glued up and clamped into a gluing jig. Once the glue sets, the curve is retained. Me thinks it worked pretty good.Here you see those very same wings glude and clamped onto the tail. Working on curved surfaces, with no opposing surface to clamp is very tricky. We have to be clever. In this photo you see a broom handle inserted through the frame. Clamping it to the table gives me a surface to wrap the bungees.Here begins the arduous task of rail glue up. Notice the wetsuit drying in the background (hey we gotta test these things!) - and there is Mikey too - lofting up the next longboard. A real production line.

    More to come...

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    GSB Tees and Hoodies

    We're considering printing some GSB Tees and Hoodies. Here's what we're thinking. Got any ideas on colors, styles etc? Now's your chance. Post them in the comments below.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Surprise Swell - Afternoon sesh

    So the morning was great, but the waves hung around longer then expected. With the sun breaking through the clouds, we all decided to struggle through putting on our cold damp wetsuits and hit it again.The waves dropped down to waist high, with some bigger sets. Made paddling out easier.Mike Curran taking a rare right. Riding a foam board, but we still like him. Richie B. makes a nice deep heelside turn on the Wing. Plenty of room to take a stroll on the Waterlog.A nice mellow wave to end the day.

    Surprise swell - Morning sesh

    I got a call at about midnight last night. It was Nick and Mike calling from the bluff that overlooks one of our local breaks. It was dark of course, but the two were pretty excited. They held the phone up so I could hear the surf pounding on the rocks below. This was a surprise because no reports called for anything over waist high. The news pretty much sealed the following day's fate - from dawn to dusk. I just got out of the water and note the time of this posting.
    All waxed up and heading out from Grainsurboards World HeadquartersNine times out of ten, we are stopped and asked about our boards. We love it.A great way to start my day - walling up nicely inside.This felt REAL good - check out that fish.
    Mikey looking up at a wall - nice face!The last cutback of the morning.Where you want to be.We have these pictures because Nick was kind enough to skip a session (that's a lot to ask of a surfer) and shoot photos. If he wasn't behind the camera, he would have been carving it up with us. Here's a shot of nick on the Waterlog (the GSB 10-footer) from earlier this fall. Thanks Nick!

    Stay tuned for the PM session photos from Mike - they are nice...

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Revisitng a fish - Part I

    I happen to come accross a CD today with a bunch of photos I took while building a Striper 6'4". I took these with my cell phone, so the quality isn't that great, but they do shed a little light on the construction process.

    This shot shows the keel with the slots cut for the frames. Notice how the slots are tapered to mate the frames. This is actually an early method that we no longer use. Now we use a lap joint instead.

    Here I'm hand shaping the frames with a handplane. This is a tricky process because we're having to really visualize a final shape far removed from actually having it in hand. It's tough, trust me.

    Nice and straight.

    Here's a view down the keel with the frames in place. This is the first opportunity to actually "see" the final shape.

    Time to start working on the fins.

    More to come...

    The birthday wish

    Connor Lougheed isn't old enough to drive yet, yet he spends his days dreaming of being at the beach and in the water. For his recent birthday, his parents ordered him up a custom 6'0" shingle fin. Keep an eye out for him anywhere there are waves between Boston and Nova Scotia.

    9'4" Hits the water

    I've just finished a 9’4”. It is the first board I've built using nose and tail blocks. I chose to experiment with this method because it eliminates the labor intensive process of bending thin strips around the nose and tail. It was also a very common way to build boards back in the days of solid wood construction. I can’t honestly say why it was done this way in the old days, but I believe it could have been to cover and protect the more fragile end grain of the boards main planks. While the blocks do add a small amount of extra weight, I like the classic look they give to the board.

    Sunday, October 09, 2005

    Up and running

    The ocean is alive, we are alive, and so are our boards. When we consider how ephemeral are the moments spent in actual trim, it’s a wonder why we don’t try harder to extend those precious fleeting seconds. Not the actual ride time per se, but that feeling of stoke that keeps you coming back. This is really the essence of Grain Surfboards - to enhance and expand the best parts of surfing.

    Try this little thought experiment. Imagine the entirety of events that lead to a great day of surfing. The strapping of the board to the rack, the suiting up, the paddling, the duck-diving, the waiting in the lineup, and then the “best part” the drop-in, the carving, the slotting, and the spit out. And then the paddling again, and the duck-diving…etc…etc… you know the routine.

    Now imagine extending the “best-part” to include more of the board. When you are strapping it to the roof, you can’t help but notice and admire the hand-feel of the rails and the well-crafted balance. When you’re duck-diving, you go deeper, with less effort, pop up higher and lighter. You find yourself looking forward to the long wait between sets. It gives you a chance to sit and stare, in awe how the wood grain becomes iridescent in the sunlight. The joy of surfing, is extended beyond it’s normal course. No longer confined to the brief flash of the ride.

    If I’ve already lost you, then Grain Surfboards are not for you, and that’s ok. But this is really how it is for us. And doesn’t even begin to describe how a well-crafted board enhances the actual ride, how it feels underfoot, and responds like a living organism.

    To experience all of this, you will need to make a commitment.