Wood and water: two elements that seem completely at one with each other and have throughout history. Viking ships, hollowed tree trunk canoes, light skiffs, log-lashed rafts, tall-masted ships—you name it, people have sailed it.
There’s something so satisfying about propelling yourself along the water in a non-motorized craft, using your own strength, balance and skill to take you places. Nothing high-tech involved, just you and nature. Leave your cell phone on the shore and zone out. (Yes, you can do it—trust us!)
Clearwood mastermind Randy Bogardus calls himself an “artist, shaper and woodworker,” and one glance at the beautiful boards on his website will show you why. They would look just as good to be used as artwork above your fireplace as they do when they are used for paddling down a river or in the ocean shallows.
Bogardus and the rest of the Clearwood Paddleboards team describe their passion for the water and using boards to navigate it as “the essence of who we are as people.” And luckily for all of us, they are also the kind of people who are happy to share their enjoyment and skill.
Their specialty is designing hollow wood surf and paddleboard kits for enthusiasts to build at home. They explain that they are committed to making the best designs, and they also promise to hold our hands if we need help when building our own boards. In fact they have a whole section on Building 101, including the tools you’ll need and techniques they recommend.
Clearwood offers its kits either as “fishbone” frameworks that it will ship worldwide or “full kits.” The full kits are tailored to each individual customer, who receives a personalized quote once the specifications are final.
Another way to build your board? Order the company’s full-size templates. You’ll get the design in a PDF that you can get printed.
The fishbone kit is what it sounds like. You buy the skeleton of the board, which comes to you ready to assemble, but you have to buy the supplies to complete the board.
“The frame kit is … the starting point for your strip-planked board-building project,” say the Clearwood designers. “In addition to the frame kit you will need strip material, epoxy and fiberglass, fin box and fin, and a vent and leash cup set.” (No, we don’t know what a “vent and leash cup set” is either…)
Not sure what type of wood to use? Fear not: The Clearwood site can ship you paulownia lumber.
“This is the wood that will create a light and strong board, and beautiful grain and color,” say the Clearwood team. “Paulownia is the perfect wood for building hollow boards; it machines well and sands great.”
The wood is light but also strong, and it absorbs less salt water than many other types of wood. It also grows fast, making it a sustainable choice.
If you’d rather have the whole shebang sent to you, Clearwood can oblige with the full kit. Call them to discuss the best options for you.
So, there you have it: the perfect project to while away those cold winter nights as you dream of aquatic adventures to come next spring.