Computer aided channel bottoms?

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Design Outline

If we look back upon board trends for 2016 the top two are arguably the rebirth (or re-rebirth depending upon how old you are) of channels, and the development of carbon inlays for flex control and strength.

On the latter, Daniel McDonald of DMS Shapes was the inventor, he called his the Carbon Wrap, but different versions have now been developed by a number of labels both large and small.

Both channels and carbon inlays involve laborious sanding of the blank if done by hand. To service this burgeoning area AKU Shaper are developing a router fitting that can finish a board in areas the cutting discs currently can't get into. It can also be used for finbox cutouts.

"We've seen consumer demand for this," says Jimmy Freese from AKU Shaper, "and this tool will give us the ability to finish even more of the board."


Both channels and carbon inlays are tricky features. Inlays are often curved and have to be a consistent, yet shallow, depth, while channels...well, what can you say? Those shapers who specialise in channels are the closest the surf world has to sculptors. Rodin's flecked in foam dust.

So how do they feel about the new tool?

Phil Myers from Free Flight in Ballina was aware of the router but, as yet, couldn't see how it would work for him. "I do customs and every board is different so it may not be for me."

Phil is noted for his multiple channels - numbering 6, 8, or even 10 across - with steep faces and sharp angles, and despite the potential to save labour his feeling is they would be beyond the scope of machinery. "Can't say for sure, but I don't think much will be changing for me in the near future."

Dale Wilson is head shaper at Byrning Spears and he shares a similar sentiment to Phil, however he can see how they would be a boon for some channel types. "There's been a resurgence in tail channels," says Dale, "and I can see how the tool can work to cut those. I've seen models from Mayhem and Tomo with shallower tail channels and it could easily work on those channel types."

Like Phil and Dale, Rod Dahlberg from Dahlberg Surfboards acknowledges the intricacy of channel bottoms, however he's very open-minded to the possibilities. "I haven't seen it yet," said Rod, "but I've been impressed by what they've created in the past."

Thinking out loud, Rod surmises that cutting channels into an unfinished board may present a problem. "It'd have to be cleaned up and that could change the depths of the channels." But that was playing devil's advocate to a tech he hadn't used yet. On the whole he was optimistic.

Meanwhile, the crew at DMS Surfboards are very keen to see, and where possible, use, the new AKU router tool for their Carbon Wraps. "Good design often involves good technology," was their take.

The new tool doesn't yet have a name, but says Jimmy Freese from AKU Shaper "We've still got a few months before it's launched, hopefully we have a cool name by then."

Stay tuned...


daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
daisy duke kaha... Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 3:39pm

I reckon most people ordering a Free Flight would want Phil's hands on it anyway.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 4:23pm

If they go good I don't really mind.
Thinking of getting rid of my AB if any swillnuts are keen.
5'9 - 19'3/4 - 2'1/2

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 5:41pm

Got any photos ?

How much you asking ?

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 7:43pm

No woz, blowin.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 7:28pm

Nice stick LD.

Think the 5'9" might be a bit short though.

The waves I'd be wanting channels in might need a few inches more.

Cheers though mate.

Fucken tyre kickers.....

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 5:30pm

Imagine that , you can replicate or adjust fin positions accurately instead of those crooked fin jobs so commonly found usually in mass produced boards . The question is will a machine be more accute than vs a human touch . Good luck to them hope it works good

Thanks for the article guys

Bert Burger's picture
Bert Burger's picture
Bert Burger Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 5:47pm

Um? unfortunately i cant post a photo , but i have one dated from 11 years ago , 30th of August 06 , with both channels and fin inserts cut out by the CNC machine , this is by no means new,,, and yes , the accuracy of fin placement is insane...
Originally i worked with Miki Lagenbach , APS , and Jimmy AKU , before they went there separate ways .. while working for Firewire i was tasked with developing a way for there machine to do this job , while the programming was already in place , the APS/AKU just wasnt up to the task unless some major engineering and modifications were done , yet off the shelf furniture CNC machines were capable of performing this task , so the answer was simple , interface a surfboard design program with a stock standard machine and do everything with one machine that had an auto tool changer, the shape , fin inserts and channels could be done in one shot with 3 tool changes ... but the world didnt need to know what we were doing...

bigtreeman's picture
bigtreeman's picture
bigtreeman Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 7:23pm

I cnc route my fin box, leg rope, vent plug, handle holes, tree logo (1 mm deep), Rpela shark deterrent holes ( 2mm 4mm deep), puzzle joints, backing plates.
I've no idea how a sculptor can get accurate to the mm with a sander.
It's easier to draw it and just watch it get cut out... accurately

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean Thursday, 15 Dec 2016 at 9:17am

Rpela shark deterrent sounds interesting. Picture please ?

bigtreeman's picture
bigtreeman's picture
bigtreeman Thursday, 15 Dec 2016 at 11:08pm
temp pics of assembly, bit different to a plastic board
will be putting housings in all boards

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Tuesday, 13 Dec 2016 at 8:45pm

It's kind of funny this is news and it's 2016

But not surprised to read Bert was doing it over ten years ago.

Casper's picture
Casper's picture
Casper Friday, 16 Dec 2016 at 6:38pm

Why can't I post a pic or video of my machine cutting 6 channels. I did my first one easy ten years ago. If you use the right cad program to design and a basic cnc machine with a small radius cutter, anything can be done.