Your skateboard press sucks

Vacuum Skateboard press

The easiest thing to try when “making your own” skateboard is to buy an uncut blank and cut out your own shape. That will usually suffice for most people. The next step requires building a mold and making a press. Instructables member Gregorylavoie has posted a pretty good in depth tutorial on how to make a skateboard mold and vacuum press. I’ve seen a various methods of DIY presses that don’t involve welding and hydraulics. Most of them involve clamps. The mold part is the most daunting of the two, and requires the most finesse. Professionally made molds are not just a top and a bottom cast together. That is to say, the top piece wouldn’t be a perfect fit to the bottom piece. Making the concave symmetrical along the vertical axis is a job best left for CNC machines or skilled shapers. Granted, for your own use you don’t have to be that picky. Using a vacuum press makes the job of the mold a lot easier, since you only have to make one side and the vacuum compresses the rest of the board against the mold. This is the same basic process that Roarockit sells as a home kit. The Roarockit actually works (video review coming soon), but the mold is made from styrofoam and it’s more of an arts and crafts type educational project geared towards little kids. However, there is a community of longboarders out there that is very serious about using the Roarockit to make a cambered board. Gregory’s Instructable is a lot more rugged and reusable than the Roarockit, and it’s ads another DIY layer of customizing and accomplishment. There’s more to it than these few photos show, and the devil is in the details.

Gregory’s method is a sound one. The parts for making the mold and press are relatively cheap and easily attainable. If you wanted to make your own boards on a regular basis, this method will work for you, although it still requires a substantial time investment for the mold, and your first one will likely be wonky. His methods for providing an even concave are good, but if you look at a commercially produced skateboard you’ll notice different contours in different areas that his template won’t adhere to. Some people just take an existing board and make pour a concrete mold on top of it. That probably wouldn’t work in this case since you need to be able to insert the whole thing into the vacuum bag. Another thing he kind of glosses over is the part about the veneer. The problem most of you are going to have is where to find the right maple veneer. If you troll through various board building forums you’ll see a lot of posts about people trying to locate skateboard quality veneer in the right size and at a reasonable price. Good luck contacting an actual skateboard manufacturer for it, they buy it by the semi truckload. Another area your project will fall short is the glue. Commercial skateboards use two part epoxies or something besides regular wood glue you can buy at a home improvement store. I suspect this will affect the long term pop of the board.

This is the most thorough tutorial I’ve seen for making a working skateboard press. There are many pictures and a few nice CAD renderings. It should work well for personal levels of production, and is the next logical progression if you are already using the Roarockit on a regular basis. I wouldn’t want to start a business with it, but if you need something to do with yourself with this winter it should occupy your time well. Well done, Gregory!

Check out: Use a Vacuum cleaner to build your own Skateboard on Instructables.com

21 Comments

  1. Simpson,O.James on September 24, 2007 - Reply

    D.I.Y.,indeed.

  2. Only thing is I wouldn’t use a household vacuum, not enough pressure.

  3. There is lots of good info here on making your own skateboard from scratch. Wooden molds are the way to go if you already have a form that you know will bend your veneers to the desired shape. If not experimenting with foam is really cheap. I use the 2″ pink stuff from Home Depot. Foam will work for most shapes but you might want to re-enforce the bottom with a sheet of plywood. this will prevent the foam from bending while in a vacuum.

    One thing you do not want to use as a vacuum source is a vacuum cleaner unless you like putting out fires. This is dangerous. Vacuum cleaners need air to cool the electric motor and when you block the suction by attaching it to a vacuum bag you stop all air circulation.
    A vacuum cleaner is a high volume/low HG blower and will not pull enough vacuum to properly pull veneers together for a strong lamination. It is better to use a manual pump similar to the pump we use in our kits. These are low volume/high HG units and will pull up to 25HG. Much more than what is needed for the job.
    I do not think I have ever heard anyone say that our decks are a arts and crafts project geared towards children. The basic street deck and longboard deck you end up with is as good as any you would buy in a skateshop.
    The best part of the kit is that it teaches you how to make a deck using vacuum without the trial and errors involded of experimenting from scratch. A lot can go wrong when you are using a laminating process in a vacuum bag.

    That said I think it is great when people go at it on their own. That is exactly how I came up with the roarockit kit.

    If you are looking for veneers have a look at our website. We sell 1/16 hard maple veneers to deckbuilders all over the world.

    Hope I have included some usefull information for you in my comments.

    Thanks
    Ted from Roarockit

  4. I most make the press it’is cool.

  5. frokster on January 26, 2008 - Reply

    vacuumcleaner is not o good idea. i pulled a compressor out of a (old) refrigerator. It pulls about 0.8bar of underpressure (about 25HG).

  6. Here is a tutorial on how to build templates and a foam mold for building a skateboard.

    http://thinairpress.blogsome.com/building-a-pool-board-foam-mold/

    If the link does not show up do a search for: thin air press blog

  7. Abdel on July 15, 2008 - Reply

    Where can I buy some maple or bamboo veneer to make a skateboard wtih?

  8. lars marius on January 11, 2009 - Reply

    cool lars that looks so good

  9. lars marius' on January 11, 2009 - Reply

    or ted i mean

  10. I use a plywood buck, with cork and rubber filler followed by concrete to make my concave decks. Not copies of existing blanks, but designs of my own choosing. I’ll post pics on silverfish when I get my camera set up.

  11. I just found a site http://www.skateboardveneer.com it has a sweet press for sale and they sell just about anything that it takes to make real skateboards.
    I don’t trust the vacuum press deal. I would rather do it the way the pro boards are made. They don’t use vacuum presses for any pro brand out there and I am sure there is a reason why. These pro brands spend thousands in machinery and equipment so why would they spend all that money if they could just use a vacuum press and save thousands of dollars? More than likely it is because vacuum presses don’t make good boards.

  12. Wrong assumption Jim. MOST manufactures do not use vacuum systems because the actual cost of purchasing and maintaining a vacuum system would be more than the hydraulic press systems they use now. First off vacuum pumps require more maintenance than hydraulic pumps and wear out much faster. Secondly, a press mold can be used hundreds of times, while a vacuum bag would have a much more limited life. Every time something needs maintained or replaced, it costs the manufacturer money in lost production and/or replacement parts. In reality, a properly vacuumed laminate can be much stronger than a pressed laminate since the glues can acutally be sucked into the fibers of the wood creating a much better bond between layers. In short, it is cheaper and faster for manufacturers to use hydralic presses than a vacuum system.

  13. I have bought both roarockit and dub press distribution veneer, and hands down Dub press distribution wins. They are also based in the USA so its cheaper shipping than roarockit. Their address is

    http://www.dubpressdistribution.com/

  14. ay yo andrew you were rite i got sum wood from dub press distribution and it had mad pop. finna order from them from now on and dude is coo as hell.

  15. i’ve been looking into building a press like this but using a diaphragm vacuum pump. You need at least 21″ hg. for a mold i’m using a thin plaster mold of an uncut deck backed with a thin piece of wood and then a piece of styrofoam. polyurethane bag. resin with catalyst. screw roarockit. word.

  16. killaK on March 6, 2012 - Reply

    yea mateo, dat roarockit geezer was rude. He just tryin to get you for the money and dont even care bout skating. dude does board buildin workshops but charges fo it. atleast when i buy from dub press they are a skateboard company that gives a sh1t and not some dude trying to capitolise on skateboarding

  17. yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh buddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  18. dinner!!!!!!!

  19. looking to make my first longboard pintail very soon.will probably use a stand with hydraulic bottle jacks to press veneers.now looking for a source for our veneer plies,dubpress looks interesting,but there must be something closer and more convenient alternative for us guys up here in the north(bc).is anybody familiar with one?

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