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Set up in 2009 by shaper, designer and artist David Forsyth, Driftwood Surfboards makes performance surfboards out of wood, either reclaimed or harvested from sustainable sources. The company’s ethos is built on three key principles – the three ‘R’s.
Driftwood hollow wooden surfboards pay homage to the classic wooden wave craft of yesteryear, but they are light years ahead in terms of design, structure and usability…not to mention beauty. A Driftwood board may well be considered a work of art, but it’s a work of art you can happily paddle out on in waves of any size. Find out more about the design, build and ride of a Driftwood surfboard.
Our company was born out of the belief that there is always an alternative. In this case, an alternative to the foam-cored surfboard. By building surfboards out of materials that do less damage to the planet and surf well, Driftwood aims to show surfers that they do have a choice. Find out why we think the environment and sustainability matter.
Some manufacturers think it’s a drag to use environmentally-friendly materials in their products. We don’t. We see it as a challenge. At the very heart of our approach is a desire to use the most sustainable materials available, while ensuring we waste as little as possible in the process. Read about the materials we use and what we do with our waste.
As a passionate designer and student of the history of surfboard design, David takes his cues from the past and combines them with modern influences. This fusion of past and present is key. It means you can have a board that not only looks beautiful, but surfs beautifully too, with a ride and feel all of its own.
For example, classic shapes such as the fish and mini-simmons are brought right up-to-date with modern design elements like tucked rails and concave bottoms. The result? Highly usable hollow wooden shapes that paddle well and offer superb levels of performance.
The range of shapes at Driftwood has been carefully selected to encompass a broad mix of abilities and surfing conditions. Whether want to walk the plank on a log or rip it up on a short board, you can do it with a little more soul on a Driftwood board.
Think of the core of the board as a spine with a series of ribs attached. These key structural elements, precision-cut out of sustainably sourced marine-grade plywood, create the inner frame of the board. Wooden rails are then attached to the outer edges of the ribs. Although each individual element is thin and light, this ‘fishbone’ structure is super strong.
Add ‘skins’ to the deck and bottom – made from recycled or locally sourced timber strips – and a truly beautiful wooden surfboard begins to emerge. The rails are sanded to the desired profile, blended with the deck and bottom to create a seamless wooden ‘blank’. The blank is wrapped in fibreglass or silk and sealed using plant resin. Once polished, the intrinsic beauty of the wood shines through.
Nose and tail block can be incorporated to reinforce the uniqueness of the finished board. Glass-on fins can be specified to match the deck and bottom. Beautiful fabric inlays can also be added. Each board is vented with a Driftwood-designed stainless steel vent to equalize internal pressure and temperature.
Driftwood wooden surfboards look stunning, no doubt. But the more important question is, how do they surf?
As you carry your board to the water’s edge, it may feel a little heavier. But when you get into the sea and up onto a wave, it’s a whole different story.
Think of the hollow wooden board as a precision-engineered musical instrument, with taut wood skins over an air core. This creates a greater sensitivity between board and water; the wave feels more alive under your feet. Hollow wooden boards have more momentum than their foam-cored cousins, helping you paddle into waves earlier and ride them further. The ride itself feels smoother, more flowing and, some might say, more soulful.
Add the specific performance characteristics of the individual shape and you’ll have a ride that’s responsive, fast and above all alive.
‘El Caballito’ was an organic craft made from woven reeds and used for fishing in the area of Huanchaco, Northern Peru over 3000 years ago. As well as a necessity for daily survival to obtain food, El Caballito has become the earliest recorded craft to ride the crest of a wave. It was, as you’d expect, 100% biodegradable.
In more recent times, buoyed by rising global demand, the surfboard has become a mass-produced consumer good – built to sell, but not to last. The over-reliance on toxic materials like polyurethane and styrene has caused serious problems. This culminated in the closure of California’s iconic Clark Foam factory on 5th December 2005. The day, which became known as ‘Blank Monday’, was a wake-up call.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sustainability means “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources”. Driftwood’s belief is that surfboard makers, like any other product designers, must consider sustainability when creating products – to avoid causing lasting damage to our planet.
Our approach to production isn’t about slapping a ‘green’ or ‘eco’ sticker on a surfboard. It goes much deeper than that. It’s about creating a board that’s built with the most benign materials available. It’s about making something that will last longer. And, when it does finally reach the end of its useful life, it won’t end up in an incinerator or landfill.
Like ‘El Cabalitto’, an old wooden surfboard can simply decay, without harming people or planet.
It’s all too easy to fling rubbish in the bin and forget about it. Someone else’s problem. But waste management is where things get really interesting at Driftwood.
We aim, where possible, to use every last scrap of waste in one way or another. As sustainable designers, it’s part of the fun. To be presented with a seemingly useless offcut of timber or wood shaving is to be handed a challenge. And we’re always up for that.
The great thing about having wood as your main raw material is that there are so many things you can do with wood ‘waste’. Here are our current top five uses for waste wood:
1. The fin
– glass-on wooden fins are simply beautiful. We can even match the fin wood to the deck timber.
2. The hand plane
– who would have thought a short length of wood attached to your hand could be so much fun (especially when you add flippers and a gnarly shorebreak).
3. The herringbone deck
– shorter wood strips can be laid diagonally to create herringbone decks or bottoms. Like surfing on a parquet floor.
4. The wax comb
– yes, you can make them out of wood…and put your logo on them!
– wood shavings have excellent shock absorbing properties. So we use them for packaging and hope they get used again…and again.
We create environmentally-responsible hollow wooden boards. To achieve this, we draw on a range of eco-friendly materials. Not only do our materials do less damage to the planet, they’re also strong and durable. Which is great news if you want a surfboard that goes well in powerful waves – and lasts a lot longer than your average foam-cored craft. We’re constantly checking out new materials and new methods with the ultimate goal of producing a board from 100% sustainable materials. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting close.
Here’s a look at the main ingredients that go into a Driftwood hollow wooden board:
Church pews. Village hall floors. Olde worlde pub panelling. There’s beautiful old timber everywhere. And when it’s going begging, we go to great lengths to get hold of it – before the incinerator does. Just think who might have stepped or sat on your deck before you do.
There’s nothing quite like a piece of driftwood washed up on the beach or shingle, scoured and smoothed by the ocean. If it’s the right length and shape, we’ll turn it into a beautiful deck or bottom (or both), so it can spend the rest of its days back where it belongs – just floating on the water.
Sustainably harvested wood
We also use virgin or ‘green’ wood, but only the sustainably harvested variety. This includes paulownia, which grows like a weed in the tropics and has an incredible strength to weight ratio. We use Cornish cedar, another strong and light species, as part of our collaboration with the Woodland Trust.
European poplar plywood
The inner frame of a Driftwood board is constructed out of super-strong unidirectional plywood, made from fast-growing poplar from Europe. With lower transport costs and better traceability, this is a more sustainable choice than far eastern ply or African Gaboon plywood
Super Sap BioResin
Ever caught a whiff of polyester resin fumes in a glassing bay? It’s not pleasant, even through a mask. That’s why at Driftwood, we steer well clear of the stuff. Epoxy is very much the resin of choice for the more eco-minded surfboard builder, being water-based and having a low VOC (volatile organic compound) content. The good news is, it works brilliantly with wood. Even better, there’s now a tried and tested plant-based epoxy resin called Entropy. With a low to zero VOC content, high mechanical strength and excellent elasticity, Entropy’s Super Sap Bio Resin is the perfect green glue for our wooden boards. It means a massively-reduced environmental impact, without compromising on performance.
Entropy Bio Resin website > Entropy resin