Board riding is so subjective and personal, not everyone has the same riding style, riding conditions and everyone has their own personal gratification goal on what they want out of riding a board. This is the beauty of our sport, it’s individualism. There inevitably comes a time where you need to step it up to keep pushing your riding and your equipment may be blocking you. There are many great production boards on the market that will pretty much be good enough for 90% of the riders out there, but when you progress to a particular point and want to get more out of your riding, be it for maximum performance, or to enhance your riding experience, this is when you know that going the custom route is right for you. A custom board as all about dialing in what you want personally. It is about working with the shaper and establishing a relationship so designs can be tweaked for your individual needs moving forward. “Most of my custom boards customers are multi repeat customers and we have gone through many designs to dial in what they want. Some over the course of many years” –Dereck.
Also, apart from board designs being tailored to your requirements, when making custom boards the highest quality materials and most advanced (and at times the most labor intensive) manufacturing processes are used to maximize the end product. No corner is cut or expense spared to get the best product possible. Think of it as the F1 of watersports where you work with the design team to get the best board for you. Dereck has decades of experience making boards using the most advanced manufacturing techniques. He has worked with hundreds of customers over the years to learn their demands. A successful custom board is a perfect combination of communicating the riders requests blended with the experience and suggestions of the shaper. “Think of me as your personal board tailor, I learn what you like and then I help you look good out on the water” – Dereck.
Why are custom boards so expensive?
In the production manufacturing world there is specially designed tooling to streamline the manufacturing to reduce labour costs and time. This reduces the cost of production and also increases the output numbers. Higher output numbers means more revenue to invest back into tooling so the process becomes efficient and the end user will pay less for the product. In the custom world there is nothing pre setup other than ideas and Dereck’s hands. Customs boards are basically ‘one offs’ so everything has to start from scratch. And in a lot of cases, with the higher quality construction techniques such as vacuum bagging composites and carbon fiber, tools have to be made just for that singular application.
The cost of the raw materials are also higher in the custom world. In mass production, where you know how many boards you will be spitting out the other end, you can accurately predict how much raw materials you need, such as resins, foam, graphic sheets etc. Knowing these quantities allows purchasing in bulk to further reduce costs. Resins and foam have a shelf life so custom boards makers can’t stockpile expensive material. We have to purchase in smaller quantities for the varying types of applications.
If a customer is going to go the route of purchasing a custom board, they have decided that they want the BEST possible product possible and demand the best material be used. There are huge differences in the quality of different resins and core foams. In the production world you can compensate for inferior material by over building (ending up with a heavier board) and compensating in the market by offering at a lower price. A custom board will use only the best materials which offer the best strength to weight ratio and more importantly the ‘feel’ of a board can be affected and improved by the correct use of higher quality materials. It is no coincidence that in every sport, the professionals, from tennis players to surfers and race car drives all use custom products. It makes that much of a difference.
How long will it take?
There are many factors that affect manufacturing times. Delivery times can take from 3-6 weeks and sometimes as long as 8 weeks.
- The type of board and construction will affect the time it takes to make. For example, carbon composite boards where the vacuum bagging process is used, takes the more time.
- Availability of raw materials. Sometimes there are industry shortages of smaller items like fin boxes and inserts that may lead to a delay.
- Demand. As custom orders are taken on a first come first serve basis, there may be a backlog of customers waiting for products so the wait times may reflect this.
Having said that we typically aim to deliver within 8 weeks on most orders. Once you start the process Dereck will be in touch with you and keep you updated on construction and delivery dates.
Depending on the type of board, the building process varies dramatically. Dereck has been using all techniques from basic hand shaping to moulding and vacuuming bagging composites for many years.
- Surfboards. Typically surfboards or surfboards for kiting are done the traditional way. Shaped foam blank then hand glassed with the highest quality Epoxies and sanded and finished by experienced glassers. Dereck has access to high tech shaping machines. The design of a surfboard starts off as a unique design hand shaped from scratch in the shaping room. On completion it is then scanned into a computer. This way moving forward Dereck can either reproduce the same board if the customer likes it OR tweak any parameters like volume, length, width, rocker line while maintaining all the other parameters of the board. Something that can’t be done if the process was always made by hand. No two hand made boards are identical! This way when you come back to us to replace your custom board you can either have the same design or talk with Dereck and tweak it to further the product. We end up having many files for return customers so Dereck knows what you have been riding, what you liked and what you want to change.
- Foil Boards. Foil boards typically have to be very light and stiff. This introduces the use of Carbon Fiber. Using carbon fiber is always more effective with composite construction using the vacuum bagging process. Depending on the design of the board, sometimes a one time mold may be needed or the construction of a rocker table to get consistent rocker lines.
A very important part of the process in making a custom board is that we are very aware of the environmental impact of the board making process to include but not limited to the following.
- We use nothing by earth friendly epoxies. No polyester resins or styrens. It dramatically reduces the amount of unused resins and reduces the toxic emissions into the air.
- Always conscious of the use of ‘one use’ plastics. Everything that can be recycled, reused or repurposed will be done.
- We make boards to last. While it is more profitable for boards to break and have you come back to use for another one, we want your board to last. Broken boards may end up in landfills and on the beaches. Super lite competition glassing is not worth it. We believe due to our construction techniques and superior materials we can make you a stronger board as light as the lightest disposable board.
- We will now knowingly do business with any supplier that does not practice responsible environmental protection.
We will warranty all manufacturing defects. The very nature of custom board making means that you are pushing the edge of design, construction and application and failures of equipment is very common. While there is no way we can guarantee you that your board will not break, Dereck will do his best to recommend the best construction and materials for your individual application balancing your needs and expectations. We don’t like broken boards any more than you do so Dereck will use his experience and expertise to give you the strongest best performing board he can but boards do break under normal and extreme use. We can not guarantee your board once it leaves us.
There is no doubt in our mind that the most challenging part of the custom board process is shipping. Shipping is very expensive and at times cost even more than the price of the board depending on the destination and shipping service. Please factor shipping logistics into the price of your transaction. The cheapest is to come and collect it here in Florida. After that we can ship to anywhere in the US for a decent price. Outside the US it gets more complicated. Some have freight forwarding services they use in Miami. We would be happy to supply you a shipping quote but don’t shoot the messenger when you see the price. Please consider how you will get your board before placing your order.
When you have decided that you want to proceed with your custom Tona board order, simply add the product to your cart. The price displayed reflects ONLY the deposit needed to secure your slot. Once the order goes through Dereck will contact you within 48 hours to discuss details and provide a final quote. If you decide that you do not want to proceed with the order after viewing your quote, you will be given a full refund immediately. If you decide to continue, Tona will invoice you for the balance. Due to the uniqueness of the construction process and specialized materials full payment is expected BEFORE the board is started. Your slot will be granted from the completion of the deposit process. Any shipping charges will be added at the end and invoiced separately.