How To Make Your Own Cheap Skateboard

Step by step instructions on how to build your own skateboard.

Have you been out to price a skateboard lately? Whew, for the price of a skateboard you could almost make a down payment on a house. Just kidding. Here are some tips to build your own inexpensive skateboard.

First you start with the deck. That is the wood platform you stand on. You can buy an unfinished deck at most skate stores. Or you can make one yourself. The first important thing to remember is that the deck needs to be very durable. So use a hard wood. Most people prefer maple. The deck should be about 15 cm in height. You can either find a solid piece of maple in this dimension or you can laminate (glue) a number of maple sheets together to form the height of the deck. Most folks suggest 7-9 layers of maple laminate. The deck is actually stronger if you use laminated sheets. This is important because you will be performing a number of tricks on your board and the deck takes quite a beating. Find a good resin or wood glue. Glue the layers together. Hold them tight with some clamps and let the deck sit for 24 hours so it becomes good and strong.

You can make the deck any length you like. But remember the longer the deck the more susceptible it is to breaking in the middle. One suggestion is to try out some skateboards for comfort then measure the length of the board and use that length for your deck's construction. Most decks are 29" - 33" long.

Ok. Now you have the length and the height of the board. Let's work on the deck's shape. All boards are long rectangles with curved, rounded edges. The simplest way to get this shape is to borrow someone else's board and trace the outline on your laminated sheets. Or you can draw the outline free-hand. If you do this, you better have a good eye and a steady hand. Most boards are 7.5" - 8.5" inches wide.

Now you have to deal with the curved ends of the deck. If you traced the deck from a friend's deck you are good to go. If not find the center of your outlined board and mark the center with a line the length of the board. Tie a string to a pencil. Place the non-pencil end of the string on the center line and stretch the string until it meets the mark for the length of the board. Holding the non-pencil end in place on the center line, draw an arc with the pencil end of the string. Then you have an outline of the rounded edge end of your board. Repeat this for the other end.

You are now ready to cut out the deck along your outline. A jigsaw or a table scroll saw works best here. Once it is cut sand the deck and the edges smooth. You don't want any splinters the first time you fall off the board.



This is the step where you customize the deck with your own look. But first you have to make a decision. One choice is to buy a sheet of grip tape. A sheet 9" by 33" usually works. Press it on the entire deck top. Take a cylinder (big coffee can?) and roll out all the bubbles in the tape. Then cut off the excess tape hanging over the side with a sharp pair of scissors or razor blade. This cutting works best if you turn the deck upside down on a hard surface. If you use this full sheet option you won't be able to put a color or a graphic on the top of the deck.

If you want some color or a graphic try this - paint the deck whatever color you like; or whatever is lying around in the garage. Make certain you paint the bare wood first with a primer coat. Then put on your color coat. Next is the graphic. You artists can do it freehand. Everybody else ought to have an artist friend draw what you want or go to a computer and come up with your design. Once you have the design you can transfer it to some tracing paper and draw it on the deck. Or you can put the design on some sticky back paper and press it on. When you have the graphic you like you may want to place a couple of coats of varnish over the deck to protect the look. But be careful varnish can also make the deck slippery.

That's why we come back to the grip tape. This time cut the grip tape into strips of width and length you like. The strip tape works best if you put the strips on the deck vertically rather than horizontally.

The deck is ready. Now it is time for the trucks. The trucks are the metal axle for the wheels. The trucks fit on the underside of the deck. There are two trucks per board. One at each end of the deck. Generally, the axle width of the truck should be within 1/4" of the deck width. Trucks can be found at any proper skate shop, some big box sport stores, or over the net.

Flip the deck over so the bottom is facing up. Make certain the truck is in the center of the board. Again draw a line down the center of the board's length and make certain the tucks saddle that center line. With a marker of some kind mark through the screw holes of the truck. Remove the trucks. Then carefully drill holes on your marker spots. Make certain the drill bit is the right size for the truck's screws. And make very certain that you don't drill all the way through the deck coming out the other side.

You can buy some trucks with the wheels already attached. Or you can buy wheels you add to the trucks. If you bought separate wheels now is the time to put them on. Push the wheels onto the end of the truck's axle. Two wheels per truck, one on each side of the truck. Most trucks have a kingpin, a partially threaded bolt already attached to the axle or one that is inserted once the wheels are on. The kingpin holds the wheel in place and when the kingpin nut is tightened or loosened it controls the freedom of the wheel's spin.

The other thing to know about wheels is that they come in a variety of sizes. Plus, some come with ball bearings already attached in the center hole. Some come without the ball bearings and the bearings have to be attached by the board builder. Bearings come in sets of eight, two for each wheel. Make certain all four wheels are the same size and from the same company. Uniformity is important. Softer urethane is usually slower than harder urethane. Urethane is what the wheels are made of.

You're done. Hit the street. Find the local skate park. Start learning the tricks. And wear your helmet!

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