How to Pick Out a Skateboard Deck
Looking to buy a new board? Don’t worry, we’re here for you. The Braille Buyer’s Guide is a tool designed to help those who are new to skateboarding learn about all the different aspects of the tools of our trade. Today, we’re looking at the skateboard deck. With this wealth of information at your disposal, you will be able to make an informed decision before buying any piece of skateboarding equipment.
This guide will also prove useful for anyone who may have skated in the past and is now looking to re-familiarize themselves with the fine details of skateboarding equipment. Whether you’re a total beginner, or just looking to brush up on your skateboarding knowledge, we couldn’t be happier that you’ve decided to pursue this passion!
We will be discussing the most vital piece of gear in all of skateboarding. This, of course, is the skateboard deck. Also more simply known as the deck, or board. Though there are many different types of skateboard decks (e.g Longboards, Cruiser boards, Banana boards, etc), our expertise here at Braille lies within the realm of “shortboards”.
“What do you mean by shortboards?” you ask? Shortboards are what skateboarders use to skate street, skateparks, and vert ramps. They are the most common type of board you’ll see in most skate shops. In no way does this mean shortboards are a one-size-fits-all type of board. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with their own specifications which we will be covering in more detail as you read on.
The Anatomy of a Skateboard
Sure, to most people, a skateboard deck is merely a piece of wood and not much else. To us skateboarders though, boards are much more than that. A board is a piece of art. It’s not simply a piece of wood, rather a finely tuned and well-crafted piece of wooden equipment that generations of skateboarders have been using to do the most incredible feats, FIRST TRY!
What we’re trying to say here is that there are a lot of different features of skateboard decks that have been perfected over time, resulting in the skateboards that we ride today.
These features include:
- Nose and Tail
We’re going to look into each one in depth so you know exactly what to look for, and what suites your needs when buying a skateboard.
The dimensions of a skateboard deck can be broken down into length, width, wheelbase, and effective foot platform. Though not as commonly discussed, the length of a board is typically 28 to 32 inches.
When talking about the “size” of a board, most people are referring to the width. It’s standard practice to describe the size of a board by its width, so it’s important to remember the width of your preferred skateboard deck.
The average width of a standard skateboard deck is anywhere from 7.5 inches to 8.75 inches. In the photo below, we give you an example of a size 8 board. Contrary to popular belief, height and shoe size do not automatically dictate which size board you should be riding. Though it can matter to some degree, it’s important to stand on many different sizes to see what feels most comfortable for you.
a smaller person will want a smaller board and a bigger person a larger board, however, some grown adults with big feet feel more comfortable skating a “skinny” 7.5-inch skateboard, while some younger kids with small feet feel more comfortable skating a “fat” 8.75-inch skateboard. It’s simply up to personal preference.
Another factor is the type of skateboarding you’d like to be doing. Street skating and technical skating are usually performed on smaller decks. Skating on vert ramps and in pools is typically done with a wider board. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. Don’t be shy! Ask to stand on a board at your local skate shop before you commit to purchasing it.
The other common dimension that people refer to the size of skateboard decks is known as the wheelbase. The wheelbase is a measurement of the distance between a board’s truck holes.
When measuring the wheelbase, measure from the holes closer to the middle of the board. The average wheelbase ranges from 13 to 15 inches.
Nose and Tail
The nose and tail of the board simply refer to the front and back ends. With many modern boards, the nose will be slightly larger and more mellow than the shorter, steeper tail of the board. Some decks from different brands have an equal size nose and tail. These are referred to as “twin-tail” or “twin-nose” boards.
When it comes to skateboard decks, the concave is the curvature across the width of the board. Though it may not seem like it, concave plays a huge role in how a skateboard performs. A flat board with no concave would not be as easy to maneuver compared to a board with a deeper concave.
Concave helps the skater’s feet grip the board, and also creates “pockets” at the nose and tail that allow the rider to flip and turn their board more easily. The most common concave shape you will find on modern skateboards/shortboards the radial concave shape. This slightly U-shaped concave can vary from shallow to deep. Once again, stand on many different boards to see if you prefer a deep or shallow concave.
Every single skateboard deck you see will have at least eight things in common. These eight things are the pre-drilled mounting holes where you would attach your trucks. You’ll find four of these holes near the tail, and another set of four near the nose. Before any of this pre-drilling is done, the wood is selected, then the board must be pressed.
Material is also a common aspect of skateboard decks. Maple is generally the material of choice. Each thin layer of maple is pressed together and assembled in a cross-grain pattern to create an extremely resilient deck.
There are some exceptions to this standard skateboard deck construction. Some boards are created from bamboo or other materials.
With the type of material, and the number of plies figured out, the board will then have to be pressed. Once the plies are layered accordingly, glue holds them in place before a hydraulic press compresses them into a single piece of strong wood. The press will also bend the wood into the appropriate concave shape, and the board is left in the press as the glue sets.
The finishing touches consist of drilling the mounting holes, using a band saw to cut the deck to shape, rounding the edges and sanding the board smooth, then varnishing and sealing to protect the wood from the elements.
So… Now What?
if you’ve made it this far, you’ve learned about all of the aspects of the skateboard deck and you should be ready to pick one out for yourself! You’ll also know by now that even though it helps to have this knowledge, the best way to find out what kind of board you should buy is by standing on as many boards as possible.
Don’t be afraid to ask to stand on a board and get a feel for it before you buy it. Also, don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone! For example, try a slightly wider board with a deeper concave than you’re used to. It can be a fun way to experience something different with your skateboarding. You may even end up liking the change!
For a variety of different boards for you to choose from, Braille Skateboarding recommends you check out our selection in the Online Shop. When you purchase a skateboard from Braille Skateboarding, not only will you get a high-quality skateboard deck, but it will be prepared for you with love from the crew at the Braille House!
We want to see what you’re riding! Send us a photo of your deck or setup and tag us on Instagram! Use @brailleskate, #brailleskate and #brailleskateboarding. We love to see you guys progressing, so let’s see those skateboards!
Now get out there, keep progressing, have fun and help us #pushskateboarding all over the world!
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