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How to make a surfboard table
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How to make a surfboard table

For a laid-back beachy look, these classic boards are gold – simply add a plywood base for an inexpensive coffee table that will look great on your deck. And you don’t have to retire your favourite board because old surfboards are common discards in council clean-ups. It may be dinged, but it all adds to the charm. You can also sometimes pick one up for $30 or so from a recycling centre.

Step 1: Remove fins and wax from surfboard using a plastic scraper and hot water. Get board as clean as possible. Wipe with turps, then wipe over with grease and wax remover (don’t use a scourer as it will scratch the surfboard). Towel dry.

Step 2: To make table legs, use Wave Diagram (above) or a blown-up picture of a wave to draw outline on cardboard, which will become template for legs. Keep wave shape simple, as you’ll need to cut it out with a jigsaw. When you’ve drawn wave, use a builder’s square or similar to draw a rectangle 380mm high x 415mm wide around wave, with foot of wave in a bottom corner of rectangle.

Step 3: Cut out rectangle with a utility knife and straightedge, then cut out wave shape.

Step 4: Transfer shape to each end of 1 piece of marine plywood. Square a line across centre of plywood, and then continue line across top and bottom edges of plywood.

Step 5: Cut out wave shapes using jigsaw, making curves as smooth as possible. Sand curves.

Step 6: Place cut-out wave-shaped leg on other sheet of plywood. Mark in wave shapes and centre line marks on each edge, then draw in centre line. Cut out second leg and re-mark centre line on cut bottom edge of both legs.

Step 7: Find centre of lines marked on top and bottom edges of both legs, then draw 45° lines through centre marks. Do this at top and bottom, making sure angles tilt same way.

Step 8: Using point where 45° lines meet face of legs (should be 9mm from centre line) draw a line parallel to centre line across both legs.

Step 9: Set power saw to cut at 45° and set depth of cut so it just goes through 18mm plywood when cutting on angle. Align centre of blade with line you just drew on 1 of the legs, then measure and mark outer edge of saw base on plywood. Do this at top and bottom of leg.

Step 10: Clamp a straightedge to marks and make cut with saw. You should end up with 2 legs the same size. As the panel is simply cut in half, these legs will be about 12mm longer than uncut legs when assembled, but this will hardly be noticeable. Sand legs smooth, without sanding off centre lines.

Step 11: Lay uncut leg on workbench, then test-fit one of the cut legs. Align centre of edge of cut leg with 45° line on edge of uncut leg. Predrill 4 angled nail holes that are about 80% of nail diameter. If you don’t predrill, the leg will tend to slip sideways as you try to nail. Remove cut leg, apply exterior PVA glue, put leg back in place and fix with nails. Finish nails with a nail punch.

Step 12: To attach other cut leg, clamp uncut leg to workbench with half of leg overhanging edge. Attach this cut leg in same way, predrilling before nailing. The 2 cut legs should be aligned.

Step 13: Fill nail holes, sand smooth, then coat with 3 coats of polyurethane or paint of your choice.

Step 14: Centre legs on upturned surfboard and draw around legs to mark position on surfboard. Also mark on legs the amount of hollowing out you need to sand tops of legs so they are in good contact with underside of surfboard. Use a power sander to give right shape.

Step 15: Use masking tape, placed about 6mm outside outline of legs, to make removing excess adhesive easier later on. Provide a generous bead of clear high-strength Liquid Nails down centre of each leg outline.

Step 16: Position leg assembly and wiggle it gently so it’s well bedded into adhesive. Pull away masking tape to leave a neat edge. Let table stand overnight to allow glue to set.