Ryan Lovelace from Santa Barbara who was at this years Fish Fry has just posted the following comments. I must say that I support him all the way. Hand shaping a board from scratch is an art that is rear these days. Finishing a CNC shaped board is a skill for sure , but light years apart and to say you hand shape boards and you don't is not on.
It seems trivial to a lot of people, and to others it's a pretty hot topic; but either way, the term hand shaped is being bastardized pretty hard at the moment. The following isn't a rant, just a humble observation on some wordage and some pretty blatant lies being told.
The term hand shaped, for years, has referred to a board that was whittled down by a planer, sandpaper and whatever other hand-held tools the shaper liked; chunks of foam flying, tight lines and experienced eyes laying down the cuts that make up our favorite boards. Not a CNC shaped board, that was then 'hand finished'. Finished and shaped are two very, very different words.
There seems to be a rash of shapers marketing "Hand Shapes" that when you do a little looking into, are most definitely not hand shaped. I'm not sure what the thought process is behind calling a machine shaped board anything else, but taking some router bumps down with a sanding block doesn't warrant the use of the term hand shaped. I'm sorry, but customers are being lied to daily and thousands of people are walking around with CNC shaped boards sporting the term hand shaped.
Let me digress for a second.
Machine shaped boards are fine, they surf, and they look nice like any other surfboard, they get glassed and have pretty colors.
What it comes down to though, for me, is creating a belief around your product through marketing and the terms that are used, and then selling something else. Thats telling a lie, just like our mommy's told us not to. I don't frown upon machine shaped boards too heavily, just the lack of distinction and honesty behind them.
Heck. If I was making machine shaped boards, I'd market THAT; they are flawless, perfect copies of each other and you have a very very narrow margin for mistake, that's got some value. My feathers start to get ruffled though, when every few weeks I learn exactly whose boards are machine shaped and marketed as hand shaped. When you're being dishonest and toting a term thats not applicable, in order to make a product more 'classic' and warrant a higher price tag, the truth usually comes out.
I'm guessing that most people reading this at the moment are thinking shortboards, hp longboards, etc. as the products I'm speaking of. When what I'm talking about are full on 'retro' 'classic' or 'alternative' boards. The ones all over the blogs and websites that you're cruising through today, by big, popular shapers, by the most 'soulful' shapers. I know people who have sold their entire quivers once they figured out the truth about their "hand shaped" boards. Making one or two honest hand shapes per week (I'm giving you guys the benefit of the doubt on that one), and 20 machine shapes, doesn't deserve the term 'hand shaped' for all of your boards...It's a blatant lie and to me just shows lack of respect for your customers.
Machine shaped boards have a place in the industry and honestly are likely the only way to keep board prices under $1,000 in the coming future. The demand for boards is just too large and honestly not everyone wants to spend more money on a hand shaped board. There are people out there though, doing justice to the term and being supported by people who care. I'd just like the lines to stop being blurred, and for everyone to be proud of what their product honestly is, even if it's machined...Just own it.
There's a laundry list of guys who fall under the pointed comments above, and your heart would likely break if I named them and you cared much for the debate.
I'm not trying to out anyone in particular. I haven't written this directly at one person or another, these are thoughts and bits of conversations I've been having for the past couple of years.
I'm pleading for some honesty from my fellow shapers that are, in their quest for their place in an honorable craft, dishonoring one of the last real traditions within it.
Pass this on if you feel like it, I hope the message is clear and not misread.