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Bruce Jones Surfboards Design Forum

pdf Download our Spring/Summer 2010 Catalog in Adobe pdf format

Our design philosophy is to keep it simple!, as we have seen to many design elements introduced that were mainly to sell product, and not at all intended to enhance the performance of the board in any way! A few quick examples: heavily channeled bottoms, that were quite prevalent a few years ago, but are no longer seen on any board design; the flipped noses, well, they are also disappearing after just being the rage recently; super-tapered decks are giving way to flatter decks with fuller rails. We feel it is much better to concentrate on the basics of board design and refine those, rather than get caught up in the latest fashions of short-run surfboard design!


Shortboards can generally be defined as a very high-performance shape, usually between the length of 5'6" to 7'0", with a width varying from
16" to 19", and a thickness from 1.75" to 2.75", depending on the length of the board. Nose widths vary from 10" to 12",and tail widths from12.5" to 14.5". All the dimensions should be adjusted as the board increases and decreases in length, and for the rider weight. The bottom rocker is usually around 5.5" in the nose, and 2.5" in the tail, with a recent trend towards less pronounced flip in the nose. Most use a three fin configuration, know as a "thruster set-up", although twin-fins, quad-fins etc., are common.

A Big Boy's Shortboard, is similar to a shortboard, but is usually between 6'6" and 7'6", with widths varying between 20" and 22", and thichnesses from 2.75" to 3.25", depending on the rider weight. The are generally for surfers with a larger "frame" who still want the performance of a short board without going to a Hybrid, Egg, or Longboard.


A Hybrid is a shape somewhere in between a short and longboard, but closer to a shortboard in the tail and fin configuration, but wider in the middle and nose for more floatation and ease of paddling. Nose width is between 14" and 16", middle width from 20" to 22", tail width from 13.5 to 15", thickness from 2.75" to 3.25", and length from 6'6" to 8'4". A hybrid can be used in high performance situations where more floatation is desired, due to poorer wave conditions or higher rider weights. They are ideally suited for surfers who have "grown out" of a shortboard.
Egg is similar to a hybrid, with less pronounce nose rocker, and usually done with a rounded-pin tail rather that a square.


Next to Shortboards, Longboards are one of the most common shapes seen around. A Modern Longboard is a refined, lighter and more maneuverable shape than it's '60's cousin. They are generally defined by their rounded nose, which makes them quite different than any of the other shapes. Lengths can vary from 6'0" to 12'0", but generally fall between 8'6" to 10'6", with widths ranging from 21" to 24.5", thickness from 2.75" to 3.75", noses from 16.5" to 19", tails from 13" to 15", and rockers from 5" to 6" in the nose, and 3" to 4" in the tail. Tail shapes are either square or rounded-pin shapes.

Longboard Designs

Outlines (templates)

.10'6". 10'0"..9'6"....9'0".....8'6".....8'0"

Proportioning is the key, as all the dimensions (i.e. width and thickness) should change as the length changes, to accommodate different rider weights. Proportioning changes the volume of the board, and volume creates the buoyancy (floatation). The volume can be roughly calculated using the US Blanks Surfboard Blank Catalog. The following are examples of dimensions and we commonly use, and their approximate volumes:

11'0"x 25" x 4" 5.0 cubic feet
10'6"x 24.5" x 3 3/4" 4.5 cubic feet
10'0"x 24" x 3 1/2" 4.0 cubic feet
9'6" x 23"x 3 1/4" 3.5 cubic feet
9'0" x 22 1/2"x 3" 3.0 cubic feet
8'6" x 22"x 2 3/4" 2.7 cubic feet
8'0" x 21 1/2"x 2 5/8" 2.5 cubic feet
7'6' X 21"X 2 1/2" 2.0 cubic feet

Using the volume of a board, instead of just general dimensions, gives some amazing results in deciding on the correct size of a board for a particular person. It's quite common to see 110lb kids ripping on 9-0s. So how does an adult who weighs 220lbs equal himself out? We hear it all the time - "Well, I'll just get a 9-6 or a 10-0 and I'll be fine!". Using simple algebra for the example of the 110lb kid,
x/220lbs = 3.0 cuft/110lbs.
x = 6.0 cubic feet!
Off the scale! You can see that the result is a very large board indeed! A more moderated example would be to use a 150lb surfer on a 9-0, and you are 220lbs and trying to decide what size board to order. The equation would then read,
x/220lbs = 3.0 cuft/150lbs.
x = 4.4 cubic feet,
almost a 10-6! This is something to consider for anyone in the market for a new board!

You may wonder, "why the heavy discussion on buoyancy"? If the idea of surfing is to go out, have a good time, catch your share of waves, and stay out as long as possible, then equalizing yourself out to the guys who are doing this, is a matter for discussion. As long as the board is proportioned, and the bottom rocker-line is the same (also proportioned), then by using more foam on the same bottom rocker-line, a good shaper can give everyone the same performance, no matter what size the board. And this brings us to our next part of this discussion,



The "rocker" of a board is simply a line drawing of the side view of the board, usually described as both the top, and bottom rocker of a board. The bottom rocker is the most important functional feature of any design, as it will determine the turning characteristics of a board. All modern surfboards share a similar rocker design - a flatter curve in the middle of the board, with an ever-increasing curve towards the nose and tail. The amount of tail rocker determines how a board will turn - the more curve, the easier the board will be to turn, but will generally make it slower. But this depends on the surfing style of the rider, as most progressive surfers tend to turn to the power spots (steep areas) of the wave for speed, and an insufficient amount of tail rocker would not allow the quick reaction it takes to do this. Nose rocker describes the amount of curve in the bottom of the board from the middle forward. An insufficient amount will allow the nose to catch, or pearl, while to much can cause wind resistance. In the case of longboards, low nose rockers are generally easier to nose-ride, since there is less resistance to planing from a straighter curve. High nose rockers will cause to much resistance and bogging when attempting to nose ride, but are better suited for hollow, snappy situations, and in high performance longboarding, where nose riding is not as much of a concern.(to be continued)

Frequently Asked Questions
;Hi Bruce,
can you tell me more about how the width and thickness of the board will affect the performance of the board? also, what are hybrids? they seem a little wider than a normal shortboard (which is a thruster, correct?). I am probably leaning towards the 6-4 thruster. what does the fuller rail do? thanks for your time...
Thin boards are more sensitive, i.e. your feet are closer to the water and the leverage situation is much better than a thick one. Imagine trying to ride a 6-4 that is 5" thick, you feet would be so far away from the bottom the board would be really hard to turn.
Narrow boards turn easier side to side than wide ones, but the width should be adjusted for body weight, experience and wave conditions.If the board is to narrow (and thin) the buoyancy will be to low and one will never catch a wave.
Hybrids are a wider and thicker board that originally were intended to be a cross between a short board and a longboard, but they are more like short boards, having a tail shape and overall rocker more like a high performance short board. We make them in lengths from 6-4 to 8-4. They are a good choice for beginners and surfer past there teens, those that need more buoyancy.
A fuller rail is associated with a flatter deck (widthwise), which creates more volume in the board. Most modern short boards have a severely tapered deck and thus a thin rail. Board designs have gone from tapered to flat to tapered over the years, and I cannot give you a reasonable explanation of why one works better than the other, the best thing is to use moderation -"take the middle road" - not overly done in either direction. Currently, there is a trend back to a flatter deck and a fuller rail.
To sum this up, you need to adjust all the dimensions for you skill level!

Discussion of selected wood species used as stringers in surfboards
- bending strength and stiffness