Your account isn't shadow-banned; you're just not keeping yourself fresh.
Anyone can make a fingerboard. I think we all know this by now. 3D printing has elevated and expanded the deck making community to just about any creative idea you can get. Now that anyone can make a fingerboard, you guessed it, anyone can start a fingerboard company. But what does starting a fingerboard company mean? How do you do it? Where do you start?
Those are all questions I asked myself when I first went down the ‘professional fingerboard’ rabbit hole back in early 2011. I had seen handfuls of wooden decks, but those questions starting popping into my head; only problem was, it wasn’t as easy to do it back then. As most people do, my first move was to check YouTube. Sure enough, there were videos that showed how to heat up Tech Decks and bend the kicks to get different kick heights. They would then clamp index cards. . . yes, index cards. . . between the decks to make a board. My first fingerboard I made was with index cards and you can bet I brought them to school for the homies and shredded ‘em in class. Still, I wanted to make ‘real’ decks. I remember buying my first box of wood veneer on eBay. No one told me about having to layer up alternating grains. What even was wood grain? I just thought I sucked at making boards because they could snap if you looked at ‘em wrong. Once I figured that out, I quickly outgrew the Tech Deck molds. The next step up was Bondo. What is Bondo? You can bet that Woob of yours that I had no idea what it was either when I was 12. Bondo is autobody filler. Basically, if you dent your car, you can use Bondo to fill in the dent. The great thing about it is that it is really easy to sand down and make the dent (well, what used to be the dent) look seamless. Well, I asked my dad to take me to Wal-Mart for some Bondo and can clearly remember the look on his face. But he obliged and took me to get some Bondo. Now I am not joking when I say this. . . the first mold I made was with one of those Tech Decks with the cardboard from the inside of a toilet paper roll wrapped around it. I poured in my Bondo and waited for it to set. My first mold. . . well, mold half. . . I still had to make the other mold half, but after that, I was groovin’! I made several Bondo molds as I outgrew the Tech Deck shape. Finally, I landed on a mold design I was happy with and went on to press several boards. Now here is something all my pre-3D printed mold friends will get a chuckle about. . . Remember lining up your holes for drilling? You miss that? Me either. The first 20 or so decks I made were unusable because you couldn’t even screw trucks into them! If you’ve been here, you know. If you are still doing this, I salute you. Eventually, I got a Tech Deck, lined it up, and then used the holes for guides. Probably should have done this from the start, but this worked well for 3 whole years! Back in 2014, I decided it was time to get a ‘real’ mold; an NFB, which was top-of-the-line at the time and still currently is. Personally, I think metal molds need to be the industry standards if you are selling “professional” fingerboards, but that is a topic for another block down the line. The NFB mold opened new doors for me as a creator. Being able to drill holes quickly and accurately was game changing. That’s when the “addiction” started, and I’ll get more into the “addiction” later in this blog post.
At around the same time I made my upgrade to Bondo molds, my shaping process was horrible. Growing up, my pops didn’t really have tools. He didn’t even have sandpaper. He wasn’t someone I could go to if I needed help making fingerboards (if you’re reading this pops, you know you don’t have a way with tools. . . love you though!). I would get some sharp scissors and cut the deck roughly to size. Then it was to the floor with some 60-grit sandpaper (that I borrowed from the neighbor) until it was the shape I wanted. If you’ve done this, you know. If you still do this, I salute you again. . . because you probably didn’t get your holes straight either). Around the same time I got my new NFB mold, I was working outside on boards (had a lot more to work on now, now that I could actually get the holes straight), when the same neighbor that let me borrow the sandpaper came over and asked me if I wanted to use his belt sander. Of course, I wanted to! I dreamed of using a belt sander but didn’t even know what they were called. Obviously, I botched a handful of decks over-sanding when I first started using it, but my neighbor had just lifted yet another huge weight off my shoulders. Joe, you rock, and I hope you are thriving in life.
Now I want to circle back to that little “addiction” thing I talked about. After the belt sander, something in my mind just kept bugging me. What other things can I do to be better at this? That is what the “addiction” is. While I would love to continue writing about the process and how it kept changing, but ultimately, what I want to talk about is that feeling you get (or “addiction”) when you add a new trick to your sleeve. Those tricks are what define your craft. Everyone has a standard for themselves. Maybe some not as high as other. Or maybe the opposite. Striving for that standard is that “addiction”. Do other deck makers feel similar?
Now that I have been making decks for over a decade, I would like to think I have refined my craft and that it is the best that it has been. But that little addiction is what keeps me striving to perfect my craft because refined is not good enough for me. As deck makers we need to find ways to freshen our crafts up. Looking at new equipment that can help, making edge rounding more consistent, investing in new tools and bits to work out those kinks on your countersinks, brainstorming new ways to do your new method for graphics, and so much more. The fresher the craft, the better the board. In all cases. That is where the excitement is. I see a lot of people get burnt out with making boards. The way I see it, is if you are burnt out on creating, that just means you have let yourself get too comfortable with your current craft. Take time to improve anywhere you can. If you feel burnt, here are some ideas:
- Play with new shape designs or look to revamp your current ones
- If you are dyeing your own wood, go to the store, grab some mason jars, some white vinegar, and a couple food coloring packs and make some dye. Let your wood soak for at least a week. Play with mixing colors. Get creative.
- Research different wood species to understand their unique characteristics to ensure it’s a suitable wood for making boards.
- Work on some new graphic ideas
- Practice on blems for EVERYTHING
If you are burnt on making boards, DM me and let’s brainstorm ideas to keep your boards and brand fresh. That’s what being a fingerboard company is.
Your account isn’t shadow banned, you’re just not keeping yourself fresh. Your craft includes all the things you create (including your methods of engagement).
Thanks for reading along!