- Kona Surf Co. is a family-owned business in Wildwood, NJ.
- The shop has been making surfboards for over 50 years.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video:
Narrator: About 158 miles south of New York City, you’ll find Kona Surf Company, a surf shop run by a father-son team. Located on the coast of New Jersey, Kona is a surfer’s dream, as the shop makes custom surfboards.
Chris Sciarra: Surfing has been in our blood. The whole culture has been in our blood. I’ve seen my father come back from surfing and he’s got a black eye or the board hit him, and our life was built around this sport.
Narrator: Here’s how Kona makes its custom surfboards. The process begins by creating a template for each surfboard using 3D software. During this part of the process is where a customer can totally customize their board.
Chris Sciarra: They’re able to change what rocker they wanted. They’re also to look at the profile, the outline of the board, what type of rail template they want. They’re able to see the whole board, shape it in, shape 3D with us, see the water flow. They’re able to see all the elements of the board.
Narrator: From there, the surfboard blank, a piece of foam that is in the rough shape of a surfboard, is placed onto a machine designed specifically for shaping surfboards. Back in the day, board shaping used to be done all by hand, and now, this tool can shape 90% of the board on its own.
Chris Sciarra: The process of surfboards has changed a lot in the 21st century. Surfboards is a, you know, artisan craft that is done by your hands. The 21st century, there is a machine element that people never thought that would come about, and that element is relative now. And you’re able to cut a board within 25 minutes, and there still is a hand-shape element in it.
Narrator: Mike Sciarra, Chris’ father, started shaping boards in Hawaii in the late ’60s and then later took his craft to New Jersey. But making surfboards was a tough business, and it didn’t last too long for Mike.
Mike Sciarra: I originally started as a garage shaper in my garage at the end of Crest. And then we moved into like a small factory and started our store. And basically, I stopped making surfboards once my family got going. And it’s pretty tough to make a living building surfboards.
Narrator: It wasn’t until years later that Chris found this new technology and convinced his dad to get back into the surfboard-making business. Once the board has been shaped on one side, it’s flipped over to do the other side. Another advantage to machine shaping is being able to easily replicate the board.
Chris Sciarra: To replicate the same board, it’s almost an impossible feat to do that hand-shaping. The machine gives you the opportunity to change it by the millimeter and to recreate the same, your magic board, multiple times.
Narrator: Hand-sanding with a very fine grit finishes the shape, which can take up to an hour.
Mike Sciarra: This is the rail guide. So this shows me what I have to choose here. So in other words, from the middle of the board, which is like 4 1/2 feet. My rail should look like that. It doesn’t right now, but it will when I’m done.
Narrator: After the board is finished being sanded, it’s sent out to be glassed. The glassing process consists of creating the fiberglass that seals the shaper’s design. This is the skin of the board that protects the foam. Color can be added to the board either by spraying on paint or staining the foam.
Chris Sciarra: To be able to work in this industry and be able to create boards on a daily basis is a really cool thing to be a part of.