surfboard, balsa, wood, photography
Sunrise Lines on a 7 foot 6 inch One World balsa board

Decisions, Decisions

I am excited to introduce “Sunrise Lines”, a balsa wood surfboard shaped and glassed by Juan Rodriguez of One World in Sarasota, Florida. Ricky Carroll, shaper of “Crystal Lip”, had introduced Juan to my work and as I was contemplating my next project the phone rang. It was Juan.

portrait, man
Juan Rodriguez

waves, swells, ocean, sunrise, lines
Sunrise swell lines off Durban, South Africa


The idea of a balsa wood surfboard certainly fit my criterion for uniqueness in each project. The balsa used in surfboard construction comes primarily from Ecuador where it is commercially grown on plantations. While it is classified as a hardwood, it is the softest of the hardwoods and is used in a variety of industries.

surfboard, balsa, woodsurfboard, balsa, wood, shapingsurfboard, balsa, wood


The initial meeting with Juan was a real eye opener. This guy is skillful and resourceful! Found at his One World factory are numerous and exquisitely beautiful wooden boards made of balsa and other hardwoods, a collection of long boards by the who’s who of shapers and over a hundred fin templates from the likes of George Greenough, Greg Noll and Robert August.

He offered me a great deal on an eight foot balsa blank, which I gratefully accepted and would become my fifth board of the 15 Boards by 15 Shapers project.

The biggest difference between constructing a surfboard from balsa wood rather than foam is the time and skill required to shape a wood blank. Otherwise the process is basically the same. Something I had not done in the prior projects, but decided would add eye appeal to this board, was incorporating a nose and tail block. Furthermore, Juan would also hand make the fins from wood and glass them on the board.

surfboard, shaping, balsa, wood
surfboard, shaping, balsa, wood
surfboard, shaping, balsa, wood


With the blank purchased, the fins and accent decisions made I still faced my biggest challenge of this project: selecting the image!

I began with ten designs that worked well within the specifications of the board and narrowed it down to two. That’s when the agonizing began. I loved them both! They each had uniquely distinct qualities that made them perfect for this board. It became impossible to decide.

I turned to my family, my friends and to an online survey with my Facebook friends. I emailed the images to Juan and spoke with him about the merits of each. Nothing came from this, every vote, opinion and discussion ended in an even split. I was stuck.

photograph, inlays, surfboard


I decided to print and hang both of them in Juan’s shop to facilitate with the final decision, but unfortunately to no avail. The board was prepared and ready for a print when a father and son walked into the factory. I asked their opinion and for once I had a unanimous decision!

surfboard, manufacturing, photograph, inlay


“Sunrise Lines” had a long and difficult birth but as any proud dad would say, ‘she’s a beauty’! I’m thankful to all those who gave me their opinion or who took part in the online survey. Though difficult at times, working along masterful shapers on an artistic endeavor is fun, insightful and rewarding. I look forward to #6.

surfboard, balsa, wood, photograph
Sunrise Lines