Maple wood is the most commonly used wood for skateboards. It’s flexible and durable which allows for it to be shaped easily without sacrificing strength and quality. Maple is still the most common wood used for manufacturing skateboard decks, with bamboo longboards trailing behind.
Even when we look at maple decks, they can vary with the amount of ply. Skateboards typically range from 6 to 9 ply, however, the standard board is a 7-ply maple deck.
Any popsicle board that is carried by a reputable brand is usually made out of North American maple wood. Due to the slow growth of the trees, the wood tends to be more durable and stable than other woods.
Typically, professional-grade decks are made from seven layers of maple ply interlaid with water-based glue or epoxy resin. They’re pressed together under extreme pressure to create the skateboard decks that we know and love today.
Best Wood For Longboards And Cruisers
Although regular skateboards (popsicle shape boards) are typically made from maple, the best longboards are made from bamboo.
Longboards are much longer than skateboards, needing to be more flexible and durable. They tend to hold much more weight but you can feel the flexibility of the bamboo right under your feet. That being said, bamboo is too flexible to make a good trick board.
Another common wood that is great for longboards is birch. Birchwood has a lot of strength and flexibility like bamboo. Just think of what the indigenous made their canoes out of – birch.
How Thick Should A Skateboard Be?
The average deck is usually between 28 and 33 inches (70-80 cm) long, between 7 to 10 inches wide, and is a little less than 0.5 in (1.3 cm) thick.
The board can be divided into three sections: the nose (front), the wheelbase (between the trucks) and the tail (rear). If you’re unsure which end is the front and which is the rear, take a closer look. The tail is usually slightly wider and steeper than the nose.
Tip: The graphic on the bottom of your board can also help you distinguish the nose from the tail.
Understanding The Concave Of A Board
The concave of a skateboard is the curvature of the deck in between the nose and the tail. It is usually quite subtle but that concave helps many functions of skateboarding.
The larger the concave, the more pressure you can put on the edge of your deck, which helps your steering and performing flip tricks.
The concave of a deck is usually distinguished by either being low, medium, or high concave. You’ll need to decide which level of concave is most comfortable for you by learning through trial and error. However, I personally suggest that everyone starts with a medium concave skateboard deck.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t reveal all of the information regarding their decks’ concaves. Therefore, a medium concave by one brand can be completely different from the medium concave of another brand.
Due to manufacturing variances and deviations, you can’t always assume that the concaves of two similar decks will be 100% identical. Just keep learning and go with what you know.
What Should I Look For When Choosing A Skateboard?
There are a few things to look for when choosing a skateboard deck. Take into consideration the type of wood, the width, the ply count, and the concave.
The first thing is first if you’re buying a skateboard to do tricks on you definitely want to purchase a maple deck, preferably a 7-ply. However, if you’re getting a longboard then get yourself either a bamboo or birch board if possible.
Next, you’re going to want to determine which width of a board to get. The standard skateboard width is 8.00 inches, however, here is a great way to choose your first board’s width.
7.00 to 7.50 inches: These narrow decks are ideal for youth riders and people under 4’6″ to about 5 feet tall.
7.50 to 8.00 inches: These are some of the most common deck widths used by teens and adult riders that skate street terrain or do more technical tricks. They are great starting boards for people between 4’6″ and 5’6″ as well.
8.00 to 8.50 inches: These are some other common sizes used for various street and transition terrain. They’re commonly used for skating parks, pools, rails, and stairs. They’re also the perfect size for beginners over 5’6″.
8.50 inches and up: These are the widest decks and are great for transition skating, bigger street tricks, pools, or just cruising.
Finally, you’re going to need to decide on which level of concave; low, medium, or high. I suggest going for a board with medium concave to start. If it seems like too much or too little, then you can try either low or high concave decks.