How to make a homemade skimboard: DIY from plywood or foam!

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  25.03.2022
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Do you want to make your own skimboard?

Making a homemade skimboard is an easy way to get the board of your dreams. You can use plywood or foam, and it’s not too hard! Follow these steps for how to make a template, cut out the shape with a jigsaw, sand down the edges, and paint or decorate your board however you want.

With your own skimboard (you can of course always buy one), you’ll be able to enjoy the sport to the fullest. Whether you’re hitting the waves or just cruising down the street, you’ll love having your own board. Plus, making it yourself is a great way to save money.

How to make a skimboard

DIY homemade skimboard

Tools and materials:

-Plywood or foam



-Paint or other decorations (optional)

Step 1: Make a template

The first step is to make a template. You can do this by tracing an existing skimboard, or you can freehand it. If you’re freehanding, make sure to make the template symmetrical.

One of the best pictures I’ve seen for a template is here on facebook. I won’t steal that image or take credit for it, so check out the link for the template.

You should make sure to get the right skimboard sizes for your body weight (more info here) when designing your own. So that’s something else to consider.

Plus you can take designs for ocean wave skimming with a narrow tip, or for flatland skimming with a completely symmetrical shape, from both tail to tip (that’s so you can do skimboard tricks and land them the opposite way and still go on skimming).

I’ve even seen people make Kicktail skimboards, which are just like regular skateboards but with a little tail on the back. So if you want to get really creative, there are lots of options!

Step 2: Cut out the shape

Once you have your template, use a jigsaw to cut out the shape of your skimboard. If you’re using foam, you can just trace the template and then cut it out with a sharp knife.

If you’re using plywood, you’ll need to use a jigsaw with a fine-toothed blade. Be extra careful when cutting out the shape, and take your time. It’s better to make slow, precise cuts than to try to hurry and make mistakes.

It doesn’t have to be right on the money as you can do some of the finer work when sanding it down, but try and get it as straight as possible.

An uneven board will want to turn to the left or right ever so slightly, making it really hard to ride.

What kind of plywood should I use for a skimboard?

You’ll want to use smooth plywood for the top and bottom of your skimboard. I would recommend using marine plywood, as it’s very strong and durable.

The thickness of the plywood is also important.

  • If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to start with a thicker board (around 3/4 inch or 1 inch). This will make it easier to control and balance on.
  • As you get more experienced, you can switch to a thinner board (around 1/2 inch).

Thinner boards are faster and more maneuverable, but they’re also more difficult to control. So if you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick with a thicker board.

What kind of foam should I use for a skimboard?

There are two main types of foam you can use for a skimboard: polystyrene and polyurethane.

Polystyrene foam is lightweight and easy to work with, but it’s not as durable as polyurethane. It’s also not as buoyant, so if you’re planning on using your skimboard in the ocean, you’ll want to choose polyurethane instead.

Polyurethane foam is denser and more durable than polystyrene, making it a better choice for ocean use. It’s also more expensive, so if you’re on a budget, polystyrene may be the way to go.

Another thing to consider is the density of the foam. The denser the foam, the more buoyant your skimboard will be.

So if you’re planning on using your skimboard in the ocean, you’ll want to choose a foam with a high density.

If you want a more durable board, you can use an actual skimboard blank. These are more expensive, but they’ll last longer and perform better.

Once you’ve decided on the foam, you can either trace the template onto it and then cut it out with a sharp knife, or you can use a hot wire cutter.

A hot wire cutter is a tool that uses an electrically heated wire to cut through foam. It’s faster than using a knife, and it gives you a nice clean edge.

Step 3: Sand down the edges

After you’ve cut out the shape of your skimboard, use sandpaper to smooth down the edges. This will make it more comfortable to hold and ride.

You don’t want any sharp edges on your board, as they could hurt you or catch on something while you’re riding.

Start with coarse-grit sandpaper and then move to a finer grit. You should do two sessions with different sandpaper.

The first session with the coarse-grit is to sand away any uneven spots and splinters. You’ll want to use medium-grit sandpaper (around 80-100 grit) for this.

The second session is to make the edges smooth.

Make sure to sand down all the edges, including the nose and tail.

Make sure to sand evenly, so the board doesn’t have any high or low spots. You don’t want to be sanding one spot too much and making it thinner than the rest of the board or sanding all the way down to the next layer of the plywood.

Step 4: Paint or decorate (optional)

Now it’s time to personalize your skimboard! You can paint it, add stickers, or whatever else you want. Be creative and have fun with it!

If you’re painting, make sure to use marine-grade paint so it will withstand the sun and saltwater.

Step 5: Add wax

It’s also optional, and not needed for the foam board, but you can add wax to the top of your skimboard. This will make it less slippery and help you stay on it across the water.

There are special skimboard waxes you can buy, or you can use regular candle wax. Just rub it on in a thin layer in a few clean coats over the entire board top and buff it out.

You should do this with a new board as well, using a good surf wax.

Here’s our complete guide on skimboard wax, from first layer to top layer.

Step 6: Add grip (optional)

You can also add skimboard grip tape to the top of the board. This will help you keep your footing when riding.

A foam board will be fine as is, but if you’re choosing plywood be sure to at least wax your skimboard so you don’t immediately fall off.

And that’s it! You now have your very own skimboard. Get out there and enjoy the waves!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Kauai Surf Report is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new sports with everything surfing at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2019 to help loyal readers with surfing and water sporting tips.