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  • Writer's pictureDavid Porter

DIY Hand plane: A Step by Step Guide

Every one loves body surfing, right? It was the first way most of us ever rode a wave. There is not a more pure and wholesome way to enjoy the ocean than just swimming around and riding waves into the beach using only your arms and legs, with the biggest smile across your face. But, what if I told you there was a simple and fun project you could do at home that would allow you to take your body surfing to the next level? Follow me as we go through what exactly a hand plane is, why you want one, and how to make it. This is a fun and creative project you won't want to miss out on!


What is a hand plane?


A hand plane is a small piece of wood, foam or other material that is used for body surfing. Since the hand plane will have a bigger surface area than your hand, it will allow you to hold yourself higher out of the water allowing you to get into waves sooner, go faster, ride the wave longer, and overall have more fun. It looks like a smaller version of an alia, an ancient kind of surf craft hand made from wood.


Why do I need a hand plane?

A hand plane is the perfect addition to any board quiver. Whether it's a gnarly, heaving shore break or piddly ankle high white water, the hand plane will elevate your body surfing experience. It's a great item to throw in the beach bag for those days when you just don't feel like bringing a board to the beach, or maybe you are on a trip somewhere and didn't have the space for a board but you still want to get in the water and ride waves. This is where a good hand plane will make your day way better.


Why don't I just buy one?

While there are plenty of options on the market to just buy a hand plane, what's the fun in that? Not to mention that instead of spending your hard earned money you could make it yourself as most of the materials are probably lying around your house somewhere. There is also a sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from using something you hand made. Most of us fantisize about shaping our own boards, let's start off simple and shape a hand plane!


Materials List:

- a plank of wood no more than an inch thick (plywood works great)

- a saw (hand, circle, jig, table, etc. Doesn't matter as long as it cuts)

- pen

- tung oil

- rope or strap

- paint (optional)


Step 1: Draw Outline and Cut


The first step will be to draw your outline with a pencil. Once you have a rough idea it's time to cut. Be careful and go slow, but don't worry if it's not perfect. It can be sanded and shaped down or left asymmetrical, it will still work great.


Step 2: Sand and Shape


Now that you have your outline, it's time to smooth out those edges! Make any more cuts to get off any excess. Use a sander or just a piece of sandpaper and get to work smoothing it all down. The sander works great for getting nice curves in the outline.


Step 3: Paint! (Optional)



Now that the shape is done, it's time to customize. Add any personal flair you'd like, this is a creative project so go crazy! I sprayed down my artwork with a couple layers of clear coat to make sure it wasn't going to wash off.


Step 4: Waterproofing



Use an old rag and apply three coats of tung oil to every inch of your hand plane. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next. This will ensure your hand plane has a great finish to it and protect it from becoming water logged.


Step 5: Add a Strap (Optional)


Just like a leash on a surfboard, a hand plane can be used without a strap. That being said, I highly recommend adding one. No point is potentially losing it or just having to chase after it all the time. I went simple and just took a piece of paradors, took the inner cords out, and stapled it with a staple gun to my hand plane to create my strap. I believe any sort of rope or strap material would work just fine. Use leather for a classier look!


Step 6: SHRED and ENJOY!!



Now that the hard work is done, it's time to go use your new, custom hand plane! Get out there and start body surfing!!

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