Stay Inside. Build a Handmade Skateboard

Download the free woodworking plans and put your kids to work when they’re stuck at home

The Global Pandemic is finally starting to disrupt daily life. School is closed through Spring Break, and the six San Francisco Bay Area counties announced a Shelter in Place order that goes into effect at midnight tonight. Which means for the next 20 days the Weekndr Family is stuck at home. We stocked up on food, toilet paper, and the basic essentials: hardwood lumber.

That’s right, we’re getting through this global pandemic scare by eating and building handmade skateboards in the garage!

If you’re looking for a fun activity to put YOUR kids to work, and get them out in the driveway for some exercise*, download a free set of my plans for building a 1960s style pinstripe skateboard, inspired by the original Hobie Super Surfer skateboard.

REQUIRED TOOLS and MATERIALS:
Back when Hobie built his first handmade skateboard in the 1950s, they used any old piece of lumber they could find, so don’t feel bad if you don’t have access to the same hardwood lumber I use in this project.

  • One or multiple pieces of of hardwood (or cut from a sheet of plywood)
  • 3 clamps
  • Wood Glue
  • Handheld Jigsaw
  • Palm Sander
  • Rasp and File
  • Drill-Driver
  • Skateboard Trucks and Wheels

*P.S. If someone gives you trouble for skateboarding during the Shelter in Place order, let them know it falls into section 10, “Essential Activities,” as long as you stay 6-feet away from everyone.

SKATEBOARDING IS NOT A CRIME!

Sushi Boat? Sushi Skate!

Serve your next sushi meal (or party plater) on a mini handmade skateboard sushi tray made from laminated maple veneer just like a standard street deck skateboard. (fresh sushi not included)

I got an inquiry last week from a local skate shop that is looking for a few dozen sushi tray skate decks to use in a cross-promotion at a local sushi restaurant. I came up with this design over the weekend.

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The 5-minute Dovetail: A hand-tool woodworking exercise for building skills

There’s a woodworking school in Portland, Oregon, owned an operated by a guy named Gary Rogowski. If you read the woodworking magazines, or buy woodworking how-to books, you’ve likely heard of him. That’s how we met: I was an editor at Fine Woodworking magazine when I was assigned a feature story working with Gary to build an Arts and Crafts Style table.

Over the years I learned a lot watching Gary work up close, and reading his articles and videos. My favorite of them all is a simple exercise he taught his students called “The Five-Minute Dovetail.”

The challenge: Cut a “pin” and matching “tail” in a pair of scrap pieces of wood and make them fit in 5 minutes or less. The required tool: A bench vice to hold your wood, a handsaw (western or Japanese-style), a chisel, and a coping saw.

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Make a PodBox Single-Purpose Podcast Player

The single-purpose “PodBox” Podcast Player

Build a Rasberry Pi speaker box that plays the latest episode of your favorite podcast

I’ve worked in the technology industry for more than two decades, and back when I got into it everyone was talking about “convergence.” It was a decade before the iPhone, but companies were hard at work looking to discover the perfect combination of features and functionality in a single hardware device.

After some fits and stops, here we are 20 years later and the quest for convergence has been conquered. Today, everything fits into a “phone.” The iPhone and Android unleashed a massive universe of apps that transformed a hunk of glass and metal into anything and everything you want it to be. Point it at the sky to identify the aircraft flying overhead with augmented reality (FlightRadar24). Hail a taxi cab on the fly at your exact location and pay the driver without your wallet(Uber/Lift). Take a photo (Camera) and share it with friends, family, and strangers (facebook, instagram, twitter). Unlock your front door before you arrive home (August locks), or spy on your babysitter (Nest). Deposit a check into your savings account with a photo (Wells Fargo), and order and pay for your Latte before you arrive at Starbucks.

Our phones have become so converged we can’t leave home without them!

The future is singular! 

With all this access to everything on demand in a single device, I predict that humans will eventually reject this all-you-can-eat buffet of information and evolve toward a more singular and focused future. 

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Custom Wood iPad Case: An Exercise in Design

Ever since Apple released the first iPad two years ago I’ve been eager to build a custom wooden iPad case for it.

If it were up to me everything in life would be encased or decorated in wood. With my recently acquired vacuum-veneer press I’ve been able to test that theory on skateboards and mousepads. This latest project, however, has been a real design challenge. The contours of the iPad and the perimeter of buttons and outlets have made this an especially difficult project to design and construct.

This latest prototype  – the second of more to come in this design-build process – is a big leap toward success but still a work in progress. It’s made from tiger maple and decorative veneers and is lined with leather. As a protective layer it works great to keep the iPad safe during transit. The wood case is extremely durable and it’s no more than 1/8-in. thick, which means it’s ultralight. The skin-tight fit also allows me to carry it in any orientation without the iPad slipping out.

But there are some improvements still to come. While the iPad case fits the contour of the tablet like a glove, it’s more like an “iPad sleeve” than an “iPad case.” To use the tablet, you have to remove it completely and then find a place to store the case. Not to mention, most iPad cases provide some sort of stand to prop up the device or hold it comfortably while in use. Those are the features I’m hoping to design into the next prototype.


The iPad fits snuggly inside the contoured case.

To remove the iPad from the case, a crescent cutout on the flat side of the iPad case provides a spot to grip and pull the tablet.

For the next prototype, my goal is to fully encase the iPad and make a hinged cover that can be folded back to reveal the working surface of the tablet and prop it up for display. Wish me luck.

UPDATE: A company in Holland has apparently cracked this nut already with the artfully designed Miniot iPad case, I just discovered with a Google search. It’s clear these guys use computer-operated machining tools to manufacture the precision parts. This would be near impossible to match by hand, but impressive nonetheless.

The Checkerboard Experience

The stretch of boardwalk that extends from Venice Beach, Calif., to nearby Santa Monica is one of the most epic places in the world to hop on a longboard skateboard and take off for a ride. The paved winding path takes you past beach bums and chiseled bodes, burnouts and family beach goers, all the while with the Pacific Ocean crashing to the West.

That scene, which I play over again in my head during my deepest day dreams, was the inspiration for this pair of checkerboard longboards that recently emerged from the Weekndr shop. One of them is headed that way in just a few days to meet its new owner.


Bergerboard No. 056
“Venice Bound
This 7-ply hardwood maple longboard is decorated with a classic checkerboard pattern in Birds-Eye Maple and Tiger Maple, flanked by redish-brown Sapele. It measures 44-in. long and 9-1/2 in. wide. The popsicle-stick shape has a kick in the front and tail, and the width of the board is concave for improved footing. The top of the board is covered in grip tape with a checker diamond in the center.

Bergerboard No. 057
“Patch
This 7-ply hardwood maple longboard is decorated with a checkerboard pattern in European Beech and Sapele. The checkers deconstruct at on end of the board, a design detail that covered a flaw in the board, hence its name “Patch.” The checker pattern is flanked by tiger maple. The popsicle-stick shaped board measures 44-in. long and 9-1/2 in. wide and has a kick in the front and tail. The width of the board is concave for improved footing. The top of the board is covered in grip tape with a checker diamond in the center.