SK8 or DIE Show Submission - How It Was Made

From April 29, 2009. So, this one really doesn’t have much to do with 2point5, but I did use our facilities and many of the techniques we’ve learned over the years to see this one through. Just thought I’d post up the process photos with some description for the perusal of those out there who are curious! This Saturday is the fourth iteration of the SK8 or DIE show at YoungBlood Gallery in Atlanta, in which a certain number of artists and skaters are given a blank deck to do with whatever they see fit. This year, there are 106 artists and boards represented, and it should be a great show, so swing by if you’re in town! Now, let’s get down to it:

Here’s where the process began. I bought a few plastic bowls and picked the two that most closely represented the shallow and deep ends of a peanut-shaped backyard pool. Of course, they also had to fit within the confines of the board itself, which is roughly 7″ wide. I cut the two to fit together roughly, then glued them to a piece of 1/4″ MDF. I followed this up by using clay to smooth out the seams between the two bowls and the wood base. Finally, the entire mold was coated multiple times with wax to ensure that the fiberglass cast popped right off when it was done curing.

To make the fiberglass casting, I began by coating the mold with resin using a paintbrush, then went back in with three individual layers of long-strand fiberglass mat torn into small rough pieces to ensure full saturation of the mat with resin. Each layer was applied piece-by-piece and then wet down using more resin and a paintbrush. I finished the casting off with short-strand fiberglass to mimic the look of a prefab pool base.

This cured overnight, and popped off the mold easily the next day with minimal effort.

I then used an old trick with an oversized router bearing and Sharpie to draw a line about 3/4″ away from the edge of the “pool” and simply cut away the excess with an airsaw and a right-angle die-grinder. A little 80-grit sandpaper was used to finish out the edges.

Right off the bat, I didn’t feel like the shallow end was shallow enough to make a good transition to the deep end, so I cut and added a piece of 1/4″ acrylic to increase the distance between the two halves of the pool.

This piece and the rest of the pool were smoothed and finished out using Rage Gold body filler and a lot of tiny pieces of 80-grit sandpaper.

The stairs were also added in using small pieces of 1/4″ acrylic during this process and blended into the pool using Metal Glaze spot filler and some more small pieces of sandpaper.

Before I could attach the fiberglass casting to the board itself, the board needed to be widened about 3/4″ larger than the diameter of the deep end to ensure that the board stayed in one piece as I cut the opening, and for cosmetic reasons. I accomplished this by using aluminum foil tape to make a temporary mold of the shape I needed and filling it with more Rage Gold body filler. This was then rough-sanded in preparation for the next step…

Which was to glue and airnail the fiberglass casting to the board from the backside before roughly cutting out the opening in the board with an airsaw.

Next, I flipped the board face-down on our table-mounted router, and cut the opening perfectly with a 1/4″ spiral flush-trim bit. This bit has a bearing that rides on a surface (in this case, the edge of the fiberglass casting) and cuts to match the spot the bearing is riding on.

You may have noticed in the previous image that there was quite a gap between the fiberglass casting (which has a flat outer edge) and the hole in the board (which is convex when viewed from the bottomside like we are here). This gap was again filled with Rage Gold body filler and some more sanding, as were the remaining nail holes and any other imperfections in the board or castings’ surfaces.

So, this part was pretty tricky. First, I needed to find flexible plastic rod about 1/8″ in diameter to form the edge of the pool’s coping. I considered a number of materials like stainless steel or wire before settling on plastic weed-eater string I found at our local Ace Hardware. This material proved perfect for its look, but also its flexibility and adhesion to the cyanoacrylate adhesive I used to attach it around the perimeter of the opening. Before attaching the “coping” I used a very small rabbet bit to cut a 1/16″ channel around the perimeter of the opening to consistently seat the plastic string into. As I went around the pool, I glued and taped small sections at a time to keep everything in place.

After a good look around to make sure I didn’t miss any flaws in the board, fiberglass, acrylic or body filler, I got to do my favorite step, which was to prime the entire board with a nice, heavy coat of Fetherfill G2 Epoxy Primer. It is a 2-part catalyzed primer that is nearly a liquid body filler, which saved a lot of time filling sanding scratches and any small gaps between all the components of the board. It hardens very well, and requires very little finish sanding before moving on to paint.

While the primer was curing (which takes 12-24 hours), I turned my attention to the small details that no pool can do without! I used a small incandescent 5V light bulb and a stainless steel washer to create the pool light, a piece of 1/4″ acrylic and some 1/8″ stainless steel tubing to make the diving board and I pressed the drain using a faucet screen, center punch, hammer and socket.

Here is a shot of the board after the surface was sanded down to 1000-grit smoothness, and after the holes were made to receive the pool light, diving board and drain. At this point, the board was ready for painting

Before I could paint the face of the board, however, I needed to clean up the backside with body filler, more sandpaper and satin-black paint…

The board has three different types of paint on it to simulate both the color and texture of the materials used in a typical backyard pool, so the painting process took a couple of days of masking, painting, unmasking, waiting for paint to dry, remasking, painting, etc. A great help in this process was having a couple of different types of fineline tape (plastic and paper), as well as masking paper and tape ranging from 3/4″ to 4″.

The last steps involved installing roughly 60 “tiles” around the permieter of the pool (these are actually self-adhesive scrapbooking letters painted blue), installing the pool light, diving board and drain.

The light is functional, and takes two “N” sized batteries, which are replaceable. I also put in a switch so that the light could be turned off without removing the batteries or unhanging it from the wall.

…and there she is.

If you’ve made it all the way through this, and are around, please come by to support all the artists who put their time into making this show possible, and thank you so much for checking it out…I can’t wait to see what the other 105 boards look like!