A man and his board: Inside a local carpenter’s surfboard hobby | SteamboatToday.com
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A man and his board: Inside a local carpenter’s surfboard hobby






John F. Russell

You’d think local carpenter Paul Hobson might be tired of plying his trade by the end of each day. Not so. You can find him inside his garage building wooden surfboards under the brand name Estrus.

So far he’s made eight such boards out of balsa and redwood, including longboards, SUPs and this, his latest creation, a 7’0” Fish he calls “the world’s shortest long board.” We caught up with him for his take on building surfboards in Steamboat.

I had the best ride of my live on the first board I built. But you never know how they’ll surf until you get them out there.



I’m not trying for perfection. They’re works of art, but I’d rather have them surf well than look good. They’re going to be incredibly collectible some day.

Chicks dig them; I’ve heard people’s girlfriends say, ‘Wow, sweet board.’



I like the DIY ethos of doing something form start to finish.

Both the process and end product are cool. People don’t get that I’m doing this in my garage.

People like them because they’re built from scratch; you can’t find too many things like that anymore. They’re throwback retros between the old hollowed-out logs of yesteryear and today’s cutting-edge shapes. Every board is an improvement over the previous one.

They take about 40 to 60 hours to make. There are two types: skin-on-frame boards, which have a wood skin over a skeleton, like building an aircraft wing; and shaped, where you hollow-out and glue pieces of balsa together with redwood stringers and then shape it down.

The hardest part is finding the right wood. It’s difficult to find large pieces of balsa. The best comes from Ecuador.

It’s kind of strange to build them here, but it keeps me in touch with the surfing mindset. I can’t go to the beach every day, but I can go to my shop.

I’m not trying to create a little cottage industry. I’m doing it because I love building — and riding — them.

I got the name from independent record company Estrus Records. It was a semi-masochistic label — think the cartoons in Playboy. Every board is a powerful statement you can ride.

My next design is a balsa-skinned, racing/touring SUP. But I’ve got boards all over my house now; I’m running out of room.


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