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Horizontally vs Vertically Laminated

Wood is an awesome material to make skateboards with. Ski, snowboard, skateboard and longboard manufacturers have known for a long time that there’s no better material than wood to dampen vibrations and provide a natural board feel.

There’s also a whole world of different types of wood, with a huge variety in strength, toughness and workability, for us to choose from.

Even once we’ve selected the right wood materials to make our longboards from, there’s a fundamental choice we need to make as we laminate the deck up, ready for the press. Horizontally pressed… or Vertically laminated?

Horizonally Pressed Longboards

This is how most longboards and skateboards are made. Veneers – usually a hardwood like maple, beech or birch – are laminated together with a simple glue system to create a super-strong blank that can withstand a lot of punishment.

There’s a lot of good reasons why Hardrock Maple remains the material of choice for pressing skateboards and longboards, even in this day and age of high-tech composites like Carbon and Fibreglas. The truth is, there’s not much out there that can match a horizontal laminate for strength, flex and pop response and ease of production.

Laminating veneers horizonally makes it easy to press in complex concaves and profiles. We use hydraulic presses and CNC steel moulds to persuade the veneers into all kinds of crazy shapes!

Flex or stiffness can be varied simply by varying the number of plies. Flex obviously varies with wheelbae, but in general, a 9ply board is very stiff, and a 6ply board is so thin that it needs some sort of composite reinforcement.

The resulting deck is thin, light and strong – perfect for all kinds of skateboarding and longboarding.

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Vertically Laminated Longboards

The other way of making a longboard is to laminate the veneers vertically – or “V-Lam.” This creates an “I-Beam” along the length of the deck, allowing us to make much better use of the wood grain to strengthen the board.

Whilst it’s much harder to press complex concaves and profiles into the deck, vertical lamination does have some advantages, namely board feel and versatility of construction.

As you are in essence standing on a much thicker piece of wood, you are able to feel the flex characteristics of the wooden beams as you skate. V-Lam wooden longboards have a very nice “natural” flex compared to horizontally laminated boards, even without the use of composites like fibreglass and carbon fibre. You need to skate one to see what we mean…

The other big advantage of V-Lam longboard construction is that we can pick and choose different materials to do different things. Surfboard, ski and snowboard shapers have been using these techniques for decades.

By using, say, a single hardwood stringer, surrounded by softer, lighter woods, you can create a board that’s very stiff for its weight. Also, it’s easy to use harder woods for impact resistance – eg at the nose, tail and rails – whilst using a lighter softwood as the core, protected by the outer elements.

There’s a lot you can do with V-Lam… it’s a good choice for core construction if you’re using composites, as it’s easy to control the flex, weight and directional stiffeess of the resulting deck.

However, we just love the look of an exposed V-Lam longboard layup… and the natural flex feeling is unparalleled.

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