We all love riding boards, but sometimes the weather or time constraints get in the way of hitting the streets or beach for longboarding or surfing. Also, if you live in a colder place, being able to have an indoor session can help you survive the winter.
A balance board is a fantastic way to improve balance and coordination for skateboarding or surfing, providing a great leg and core workout. In this post, we look at how to make a balance board to hone and maintain your core boarding skills without leaving home.
Why make a balance board?
Balance boards are very simple and easy to use and offer both a nice fitness challenge and great (static) boarding fun. Mastering riding a balance board takes time and practice, but the workout you get out of it is quite effective and complete.
Deconstructing a balance board, it’s typically a basic piece of equipment – although some higher-end balance boards are precision engineered with top materials. Making a balance board yourself is fun and relatively simple.
Materials and tools for making your own balance board
I simply used a couple of pine wood boards that I had laying around my house. These were about 50cm wide (about 20″) and 18mm thick (about 3/4″). You’ll also need a few screws to build your balance board.
Finally, you’ll need a pencil or marker (a pencil is always easier to erase), and a saw – jigsaw or hand detail saw.
Choosing your DIY balance board design
You first have to select a design for the balance board you’re building. In my case, I chose to make my balance board 50 cm x 80 cm.
The design I drew with a pen on the wood is a mock-up of a fish surfboard. No particular reason, I just like the looks of it.
Caveat: after I finished making my balance board and tested it, I realized the fish tail was somewhat of a weak point as it will often be slamming on the floor and may end up snapping quickly. You may want to avoid such fancy tail design – unless you reinforce it in some way. Most commercial boards have a simple oval, rectangle, or skateboard-like contour.
You can either draw the contour of your balance board by hand like I did, or you can make a template on paper and print it like poster to the wood measurements. I also drew the tail by hand using a ruler.
Making a balance board: cutting and sanding
I used a jigsaw to cut the outline I sketched out. As my goal was to make multiple balance boards, I only drew and cut one side of the board.
I then traced it on a new piece of wood (both sides) and then used that to come back and finish the original one so as to make the board really symmetrical.
I then went on to apply sandpaper by hand across the wood to obtain a smooth surface. I used a sanding block (see previous picture) for better grip and reach. A power sander is not required but can make this step easier and faster.
Adding stoppers to your DIY balance board
Putting stoppers on the bottom of your balance board is not a requirement but I highly recommend it. Stoppers can prevent big crashes or even the board flying off while you’re riding.
To make a stopper on your balance board, you can just use a small piece of wood secured by a couple of screws. This particular board was made for a beginner, so the distance between the stoppers is relatively short. More advanced users may like the stoppers to lie further apart, or even on the edges of the boards.
How to make a balance board: the roller
For the roller, you can use whatever is available at your local hardware or construction store. Commercial boards use 6″ – 6.5” rollers. In my case, I used a corrugated PVC pipe. Anything will work as long as it can safely hold your weight.
Since I made this balance board for a beginner (myself), the roller I chose is only around 5”. The bigger the roller, the harder it is to ride the balance board. Also, make sure the roller is at least as wide as the balance board deck, even slightly wider.
How to decorate your balance board
Decorating your balance board is optional but totally worth it if you ask me! You can leave the wood untreated or use stain, varnish… Some people put griptape on their balance board deck – you can easily get skateboard griptape at a skate shop, or grip for stairs at the hardware store.
On one of the balance boards I made, I used some stain, while on others, I transferred an image using the acetone transfer method. If you choose to transfer an image, it is good to then add a couple of layers of spray clearcoat (preferably acrylic so it won’t mess up the image).
If you use topcoat, varnish or similar, make sure it’s something that won’t slip too much. You can also draw using a permanent marker and then apply a couple of acrylic coats.
Testing your DIY balance board
Once your balance board is complete, it’s ready for testing. You should initially put it on a rug so it won’t roll too much while you try to find your balance.
If it’s your first time on a balance board, here are some simple tips for riding the balance board you’ve built:
- First put one foot on the side of the board that’s in contact with the floor.
- Start by placing your second foot close to your first
- Then slowly push your second foot higher up the board until it’s on top of the roller, then slightly past it.
- Slowly shift more of your weight onto your second foot until you feel your first foot begin to come off the floor.
- Practice getting the balance board increasingly parallel to the floor.
- With time, you’ll get good at rolling the balance board back and forth on top of the roller while keeping it parallel to the ground (with both your feet off the ground) for longer durations.
Cost of making a DIY balance board
Making a balance board is super cheap:
- Wood: about 5€
- Pipe: about 2€ (18€ for a 6-meter pipe)
- Screws: a few cents
Balance boards are not just fun to ride – and great for building up your boarding skills, they’re also fun and easy to make! All you need is a bit of inexpensive and easy-to-find raw materials, a saw, and a pen. You can easily build balance boards for yourself or your loved ones, offering them a great boardsports cross-training tool.
Many thanks to Joao, an enthusiastic surfer and skater from Peniche, Portugal, for this cool guest post!