We’re excited to present a collection of locally-made, beautifully constructed timber longboard fins that look just as good on display as in your favourite log.
Developed with Wood+Water, a NSW North Coast business that ordinarily specialises in timber baths, the collaboration gave us the opportunity to work with naturally sourced Australian timber and utilise the hand crafted expertise of the W+W team.
We caught up with Manny Oppliger and Jake Parker at their studio in Sawtell to give us some background to the project.
How does a fin get made?
M: It all starts with a block of timber that we cut on the bandsaw and laid in this silicon mould. We have a whole bunch of silicon moulds in different shapes. And then we pour casting resin around them plus these tabs that we use to fix to the machine.
J: We fix this down into that machine back there and it goes back and forth and cuts the shape into it. After that the machining marks get sanded out and then they get ready for lasering...engraving this on here as well. It basically burns the logos into them. After that we fibreglass them which has been a pretty fun process to learn to do. So they’re glassed and then we use a clear resin over the top of the fibreglass to get this really glossy finish.
Where did you source the wood for these fins?
M: There’s a red gum that came up from South Australia. It’s mainly stuff I had in my shed...or stuff people have brought in. A red cedar I got from Thora by Darcey Browning, an old timer who collects wood. The sheoak was given to me by a local woodworker.
J: This timber here is from my grandparent’s property in Glenifer. A lot of people around here are obviously quite connected to places like that so it’s been nice to use locally sourced stuff.
Talk us through the development of these fins.
J: After Manny had made a couple of samples, he started looking for someone who could operate a CNC machine. So then we did five or six more samples that went back and forth to FCS for testing - a few went to Harley Ingleby who’s a local two time World Longboarding Champion. He tested them. Then we worked back and forth on the logo placement and we ended up laser engraving them on there. It’s really cool because basically everything has been done here in house. We’ve used Australian timbers, Australian resins and Australian fibreglass parts as well. They all have handwritten numbers on the bottom as well.
M: Jake has neat writing, I couldn’t do it! There are 100 in total. I was approached for this project about one and a half years ago. But the building time...we started just before Christmas.
I’ve been in this shop for 11 years just working on my own, building tub after tub, and it was kind of doing my head in. Six days a week on your own in here! I thought, I need to speak to someone and I need another project where I can get people in, be creative, get their ideas, get them to tell me what to do.