A skateboard deck is typically made out of 7 to 8 plies of maple wood kept together with epoxy resin glue. However, more and more boards are being build with a layer of carbon fiber to enhance both the durability and flexibility of the deck.
Most skateboards are made from 100% North American Maple that is from the Great Lakes regions. Maple is a hard wood that provides great strength and stability without compromising the flexibility that is needed when it comes to board sports.
What Is The Best Material For A Skateboard Deck?
Maple is the best wood for skateboards. Maple is flexible and durable, allowing it to be shaped without losing strength. It is still the most popular material used in skateboard deck construction, even with bamboo being on the rise for longboards.
Maple is a slower-growing and more dense hardwood than softwoods. The winters in the Great Lakes region are long and harsh, causing trees to grow slowly and with tightly packed rings. Tightly packed rings generally indicate higher density and greater strength in wood.
The number of plies in maple decks varies. The amount of ply in a deck is the total number of thin sheets, or veneers, of wood used to construct it. When these wood veneers are combined together, they create a stronger board than a single solid plank would. 7-ply is the most common type among decks, however, some decks use more or less plies to alter the weight or strength.
How Are Skateboard Decks Made?
Constructing a skateboard deck begins with placing the veneers on top of one another. Beyond the amount of ply, the direction the wood grain is facing can make a big difference in the board’s performance. Alternating between veneers that run lengthwise and veneers that run widthwise, or cross-beaming, can increase the board’s durability.
Once the veneers are glued into place, they are formed under a hydraulic press, which compresses the wood layers into a single, sturdy strip. This is also the stage of the process where the unique nose, tail, and concave of the board are formed–the press bends the wood layers into shape.
The board is left in the press while the glue sets, and this too can play a part in the board’s ultimate performance. The longer the glue sets, the more naturally the board is held together.
Next, holes will be drilled into the deck to allow trucks to be attached. From there, a band saw is used to cut the deck’s shape from the large piece of formed wood, which is then rounded and sanded smooth. The deck is also varnished and sealed to protect the wood against warping and getting damaged. Lastly, manufacturers will add graphics to the deck.
Many skateboards are screen-printed, though some companies offer custom hand painting as well. The skateboard deck will dry and set in the factory until it is ready to be sold.
The art of skateboard manufacturing has been refined over the past few decades, and manufacturers are constantly experimenting with new technology, materials, and graphics trends.
What Materials Can Skateboard Decks Be Made From?
Although most skateboards are made from maple, some are made from other materials. For instance, many longboards are made from bamboo. While Penny boards are made from plastic.
Some of the other materials that skateboards can be made from include:
- Carbon fiber
- Other types of wood (bamboo, poplar, etc.)
With that in mind, maple, bamboo, and plastic are still the most commonly used materials. Many newer boards also have one ply of carbon fiber or even just carbon fiber reinforcements around the truck mounts to prevent against pressure cracks.
Why Are Skateboards Made Out Of Wood?
Skateboards are made out of wood because it is strong and flexible. You may not think about how much your board flexes when you perform flip tricks on it or land on it, but it does. Other materials like aluminum or plastic are not nearly as good for doing tricks because they do not have the same pop or flexibility.
Wood, specifically maple, has always been the best material for skateboard decks. It is flexible, durable, and easy to source. Not to mention, it is easy to work with.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t changed (or won’t change) throughout the years. Skateboarding has continued to advance with technology and there is no question that it will not continue to do so.
As you can see, there are many factors that go into making a skateboard deck. The material the deck is made of, the number of plies, how it is pressed, and how long the glue sets all play a role in what the board will ultimately feel like and perform like.
There are also many different types of decks that vary in shape, size, and materials. With so many options available on the market today, it can be hard to decide what’s right for you. The art of skateboard manufacturing has been refined over the past few decades, and manufacturers are constantly experimenting with new technology, materials, and graphics trends.
Hopefully this article has helped give you a little better understanding about what goes into making a skateboard deck and why they are made out of North American maple wood.