Skateboarding Science – Part 3

We continue our blog in the science of skateboarding to learn about the design and construction of the board and how this helps with performing tricks etc. As we have said before in this blog, a skateboard is comprised of three elements: the deck, the wheels, and the piece of equipment that attaches the wheels which is known as the truck. In this article we can see how improvements and technology have helped the evolution of the humble skateboard.

Board, Plant or Deck

The deck is made from around seven pieces of sugar maple veneers that are glued and pressed together. They come out of the press in their desired shape, usually with a curve which is concave. The deck then goes through a curing process which normally takes a few days, then they are finished with their final shape, the edges are trimmed and it is then painted.

Many manufacturers have experimented with different materials for the board, everything from fiberglass, epoxy, and thermoplastic nylon has been tried but nothing has matched up to maple in terms of elasticity, toughness and the responsive feel to natural wood.

Kicktails, Concaves or Nose

The early 1980s saw a revolution in the design of boards, concave curves started to feature, and the first upturned noses started to appear. Concave in skateboarding terminology refers to the curve on the edges and the nose and tail. What this design does is to give the board more strength but also gives the rider a lot more control. There are really two shapes for a skateboard, concave and secondly plan form.

Plan Form

The plan form of a board is really its outline, if you put a board against a wall and drew around its edges then you would have drawn its plan form. The plan form is normally requested by the rider, and the professional boarders can tell if the board is out of shape by minuscule dimensions.

The Changing Face of Skateboards

Over the decades the shape of skateboards has changed to adapt to how people want to ride them. For instance, in the 70s all the rage was downhill and slalom riding, so the boards were designed like skis. Then came the skate parks, and boards were wider with no nose but a big kicktail because all the riders were just carving and going forward.

In the late 70s designs changed again as street skating was prevalent, and ten-inch boards went out of fashion. All the boards stated to become narrower between eight and nine inches, and the upturned nose started to appear along with an upturned tail.

The mid 80s then came along and vert became popular, boards started to get wide again, but this time with large concaves, and upturned noses for the tricks being performed. Today, vert has died down and the fashion is street skating again, boards have changed their shape once again to be even narrower with a very big upturned nose and tail.

The shape of boards has been very fluid since their first inception way back in the 1930s, to suit changing fashions in riding. In our concluding part of the science of skateboarding, we turn our attention to the wheels and how they added to the scene.