How to Laminate a Wooden Surfboard with Epoxy Resin
In this step-by-step guide, we are going to show you how to laminate a wooden surfboard with epoxy resin. In this tutorial, we will be using the CLR epoxy resin system with Fast Hardener from Entropy Resins.
Before You Laminate a Wooden Surfboard with Epoxy Resin
Before beginning any laminating project, you have to know how to mix and handle your epoxy resin. Check out our epoxy mixing and handling tutorial here for best practices in epoxy resin use and safety.
What You’ll Need:
- Sturdy rack for your board
- Surfboard blank to work on
- A well-ventilated room and proper safety equipment
- Protective eyewear
- Compressed air, masking tape or a brush to remove dust
- Roll of masking tape
- Any logos or graphics you want on your board on acetate film or rice paper
- Enough fiberglass to cover the board completely and then some
- Sharp pair of shears
- Entropy Resin’s CLR epoxy resin system with Fast Hardener (to be mixed)
- Mixing cup
- Plastic spreader or laminating squeegee
- Razor blade
- Sanding block or sandpaper
Phase One – Board Preparation
Before you start preparing to laminate a wooden surfboard with epoxy resin, make sure you have a sturdy rack that can support the weight of the board and the pressure you will be applying during the laminating process.
Remove any dust from the surface of the board, including sanding dust and dirt, prior to laminating. This can be done using clean compressed air, masking tape, or a brush.
Next, create a masking tape apron to protect the opposite side of the board during lamination.
Apply masking tape around the board’s perimeter, along the rail, nose, and tail. Later, this tape lime will also serve as a visual guide during fiberglass trimming.
Then apply small pieces of balled up tape or paper along the underside of the apron, to help push it away from the bottom of the board.
Now, with clean hands (fiberglass can pick up greasy or dirty finger prints) roll out the fiberglass on top of the prepared board.
Be sure to smooth out any major wrinkles, and make sure there is enough excess fiberglass hanging over where your blue tape line, meets the rail apex.
Use a clean and sharp pair of shears to trim the excess fiberglass below the tape line.
Make a few ‘relief’ cuts at the sharp corners and curves on the board’s tail and nose to avoid wrinkles that might come up during your lamination process.
- Trim your logos close to the graphics in order to prevent shadowing that may occur with the different types of acetate film or rice paper that graphics are printed on.
Phase Two – Mix and Apply Resin
Now we're ready to laminate a wooden surfboard with epoxy resin.
Again, if this is your first time or you need a refresher, we highly recommend checking out our mixing and handling tutorial. Click here to check out our tutorial on best practices in measuring and proper mixing technique when using Entropy Resin systems.
After the resin is all mixed at the proper mix ratio, you'll have roughly 20 to 30 minutes at normal room temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 22 degrees Celsius to apply the resin. You will want to get most of it out of the cup before it gets too hot or too gelled to handle.
This is also known as ‘pot life’ or ‘gel time’. Once the resin is out of the cup, you'll have plenty of working time. When you laminate a wooden surfboard with epoxy resin, you’ll have roughly 30 to 40 minutes to apply the resin and move it around the board.
When placing your logo, it is helpful to create a fingernail mark on the fiberglass, aligned straight. This way you can roll back the fiberglass when placing your logo, and keep it well aligned when you roll it back.
When applying logos, first wet out the board surface with resin. Then place the logo using a plastic spreader, and use the spreader to push out any trapped bubbles on the underside of the acetate film or rice paper.
Roll the fiberglass back over the logos and begin laminating the rest of the board.
Begin by slowly pouring resin down the middle of the board, wetting the flat areas first and leaving the rails for last.
Pour the resin slowly over the length of the board while following with a hard-plastic spreader or squeegee.
Spread the resin slowly with even pressure. Use steady passes with the spreader moving from a tip to tail direction, avoiding any quick side-to-side movement.
Also, note the angle of the spreader and make sure it leaves plenty of resin to soak into the fiberglass on its own.
When you laminate a wooden surfboard with epoxy resin, the resin will soak in. It does NOT need to be worked in. In fact, over working the epoxy can create too many air bubbles in the resin and cause a weak lamination and cloudiness.
By starting at the center of the board and working our way out to the rails and pulling our spreader longitudinally, we create tension in the fiberglass and a uniform direction, which helps prevent wrinkles in our lamination and gives the strongest lamination possible.
Once the flat areas are wet out, we then wet out our rails by dividing the board into four quadrants.
Pour a bead of resin along the rail line of each quadrant and slowly push the resin over the rail edge and into the fiberglass.
Again, work from the center of the rail out towards the nose or tail.
Check the fiberglass for any dry spots and be sure to go back and wet out those dry spots with a little bit of resin and pushing into the fiberglass.
Make sure that you wet the fiberglass below where the tape meets the board.
Once the flats and rails have been completely wet out, the epoxy should have enough time to saturate the fiberglass fully.
With the same motion and direction as before, use the plastic spreader to go back and pull the excess resin off the flats.
Start with the flats first and move out towards the rails leaving the fiberglass texture visible but not too dry.
If you see air bubbles under the fiberglass you'll know that you've pulled it too hard.
At this point, the excess resin should be wiped off the spreader with each pass and not further spread around the board.
Work the excess resin down the rail, over the tape line again, making sure the wet fiberglass is touching the board underneath.
Phase 3 – Setting Your Lamination
A properly laminated board should look completely wet out, with the texture of the fiberglass visible, and not too many shiny puddles of resin left behind.
When you laminate a wooden surfboard with epoxy resin, you may get holes in the wood grain that can sometimes pull in resin. This leaves behind air bubbles that get trapped under the fiberglass. In these cases, be sure to backfill any air bubbles with resin before the lamination is set.
At 72 degrees Fahrenheit, Entropy Resins’ CLR resin with Fast Hardener will usually have a tack free time of 3 to 3.5 hours.
After the resin has fully set and dried, you can go back and trim off the excess fiberglass at the tape line. The resin should be dry to the touch but still flexible so that it is easy to cut with a razor blade.
Make sure to trim the excess fiberglass at the tape line where it meets the board, using even pressure and trying not to push too hard into the board. If the resin is still flexible enough, this should be easy achieve with medium pressure.
Pull the tape and excess fiberglass off the board.
Although not fully cured, the resin should be ready to sand after 7 or 8 hours at 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a sanding block and sanding paper, sand down the cut line along the rail left behind by the tape.
Now you can repeat the entire process to laminate the other side of the board.
Laminating with Entropy Resins
Interested in learning more about Entropy Resins, click here to learn more about the benefits of using eco-friendly resins on your next DIY Surfboard project.