Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works -

In ad­di­tion to mak­ing cus­tom boards to or­der, Bur­nett also runs reg­u­lar cour­ses where Av­er­age Joes like you and me can build our own boards from scratch. His three- and six-day cour­ses cover all the the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal as­pects of build­ing a wooden surf­board in­clud­ing types of tim­ber, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions and the de­sign dy­nam­ics un­der­pin­ning wood surf­boards.

Stu­dents choose a board shape ahead of time and the com­po­nents of the ply­wood frame are Cnc-cut in ad­vance. The first morn­ing starts with stu­dents se­lect­ing the tim­ber for the ex­te­rior of their boards (“Every sin­gle piece of wood is unique and per­fect in its own right,” says Bur­nett, “So it’s a very per­sonal thing.”) be­fore they move on to lam­i­nat­ing, build­ing and fi­nally shap­ing their boards. “I limit my classes to a max­i­mum of six stu­dents, so I’m able to give lots of hands-on at­ten­tion,” says Bur­nett. “But I won’t make the board for you.”

There sim­ply isn’t enough time to teach stu­dents how to glass their boards, so this is done by Bur­nett af­ter the course. But to com­plete the wood­work­ing com­po­nent of the process in less than a week is “noth­ing less than heroic”, says Bur­nett. “I want stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence the joy that comes from work­ing and solv­ing prob­lems with your hands. Of course, it’s im­por­tant that they take away a beau­ti­ful, one-of-a-kind surf­board at the end of it all, but the process can’t be sep­a­rated from the prod­uct.”

The course isn’t de­signed for peo­ple who want to be­come pro­fes­sional wooden surf­board builders (the mar­ket sim­ply isn’t big enough for this). It’s de­signed, rather, for peo­ple search­ing for a backto-ba­sics craft­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to Na­ture. Stu­dents come from di­verse back­grounds and places, but they all share a love of the ocean and of surf­ing.

One such stu­dent is Ni­cola Ver­reyne, an in­dus­trial de­signer who’s orig­i­nally from the Gar­den Route. “Pa­trick taught us about all the tools, ma­te­ri­als and pos­si­ble pit­falls while pa­tiently guid­ing us through each step of the process. At the end of it all, I got to surf on a board that is ut­terly unique in every sense of the word. I love it that when I surf my board, it seems as though the wood changes colour as the sun­beams and salty wa­ter re­flect off it.” Most of Bur­nett’s cour­ses take place at his Scar­bor­ough work­shop, but he also of­fers at least one course in Wood­stock, Cape St Fran­cis and Dur­ban each year. Prices vary de­pend­ing on your board’s shape and length, but you’re look­ing at some­where be­tween R9 000 and R12 000 (see bur­nettwood­surf­boards.co.za) PM

Pa­trick show­ing the au­thor how it’s done

Stu­dents in ac­tion at Pa­trick’s Wood­stock course

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