How to Build a Plywood Skateboard for Pennies
If you’ve got leftover plywood lying around, you can easily turn it into a new skateboard. Make extras for gifts and ride with your friends.
- skateboard wheel kit with bearings, bolts, trucks and risers
- scrap piece of plywood at least 20" x 36"
- printed or hand drawn template (see below)
- 24" x 36" piece of foamboard
- coping saw and/or hobby knife
- (2) yardsticks or straight edged boards
- sanding block
- jigsaw or bandsaw
- hand drill
- orbital sander with 80- to 120-grit sanding sheets
- 1/4" drill bit with countersink
- spray paint
- spray adhesive
Start With the Shape
Skateboards come in a wide range of shapes and lengths. We’re using a mini cruiser for our example, but you can easily make longboards as well. The trick is to draw a shape (you can download my template here) to get a nice symmetrical pattern on plain white paper.
Mount Template to Foamboard
Artist’s foamboard is really easy to cut and to shape. You’ll want to take your time to get your board’s shape mounted neatly and securely so that it’ll stay in place. I used some spray adhesive to make sure mine was flat and perfectly aligned.
Roughly Cut the Shape
Foamboard is easy to cut, but you won’t get perfect results. Use a coping saw or a razor blade to cut just outside your lines. Leave about 1/16” outside of the line so that you can sand your form right down to the line (in the next step).
Shape the Form
This is where you’ll perfect your template’s edges. Use a sanding block to hone the foamboard down to the lines you’ve drawn. Go slowly, and work evenly to make sure that you get a perfectly symmetrical shape. Once you have everything smooth and symmetrical, you can move on to the next step.
Transfer Shape to Plywood
Now you can start making skateboards. Find a scrap of plywood that’s at least 3/4” thick and lay out as many boards as you can on the sheet. I managed to get three cruisers to fit on this one scrap board!
Cut Out Boards
Use a jigsaw or bandsaw to slowly cut out your skateboards. Like before, you want to cut just outside of the lines. You’ll sand everything down to perfection in the next step.
Sand and Shape
Using a palm sander and a few different grits of sandpaper, shape your board down to the lines you drew. Once you have a good symmetrical shape, start rounding over the edges so that you’ll have a nice, smooth skateboard.
Lay Out Wheel Trucks
Using two yardsticks, align your wheel trucks down the center of your board. Measure carefully and make sure that your wheels are aligned with each other and positioned far enough apart so that your board is stable. Once you’re satisfied with the alignment, mark the positions for all of the holes in the trucks.
Drill Bolt Holes
Working from the underside of the board, drill holes big enough to accept your wheels’ mounting bolts. Make sure to drill as straight down as possible. Be neat and don’t drill excessively large holes. Your bolts should fit tightly. Once you’ve drilled all of your holes from underneath, flip the board over and slightly countersink each one so that your bolts sit flush.
Get Gnarly With Paint
Painting your new skate deck is the best part. Rummage through your old spray paint and come up with a fun color scheme that matches (or doesn’t) with your wheels and trucks.
Attach Risers, Wheels and Go Shred
Push your bolts through the top side of your board, flip it over and place your risers onto the board. Center your wheel trucks on the risers, fasten the bolts down with a wrench or a skate key — now it’s time to ride.