Skateboards can be incredible works of art and engineering, but what many people fail to realize is how skateboards are made. If you want to buy your own board or customize one for yourself, you’ll want the inside scoop on the various materials used in skateboard manufacturing.
From wood grains to plastic wheels, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about what skateboards are made of!
In this article, I’m sharing all my insider information so that everyone – from second graders to experienced riders – can understand the material basics of a skateboard. Read on to learn more!
Skateboards are complex pieces of equipment made up of many materials. They typically consist of a wooden board, usually crafted from maple, that acts as the skeleton for the skateboard.
This is then covered with glue and wrapped in screenprints for decoration. Trucks, which provide their steering capabilities, are usually crafted from metal alloys such as aluminum or steel, although nylon is sometimes used too.
The wheels on regular skateboards are typically made from polyurethane rubber which gives them grip and traction while also providing some cushioning to the ride.
To finish it off and make sure everything comes together properly, low-end skateboards need ball bearings made of metal and grip tape that covers the entire wooden surface like sandpaper would – providing extra grip to riders.
It’s vital that these raw materials are put together correctly so skaters can have their fun riding experience safely and happily.
Design is an important factor when it comes to skateboards. Skateboard decks, trucks, and wheels vary in design depending on the way they will be used. The concavity of the deck and the shape of the nose and tail are all key points to consider when picking a board that’s right for you.
Manufacturers also put signature styling into their boards with special designs and advanced templates so you know it’s truly theirs. Not only that, but companies that make decks and wheels often utilize art designs to make their products stand out from the crowd. This artwork can be created on a computer or even done by hand – either way, it’s sure to turn heads!
The Manufacturing Process
The manufacturing process of a skateboard is a complex one, but it all starts with the raw materials. The wooden board is cut to size and then shaped into its desired shape. This is done by using specialized machines that are designed to cut the wood precisely and accurately.
Decks are pieces of maple wood that have been treated and peeled into thin veneers. These sheets are stored in a climate-controlled environment so that their moisture content is ideal for production.
Then, these sheets are individually coated with water-based glue before being numbered and stacked together based on the grain and level of usage. The resulting laminate is put into a two-part mold inside a hydraulic press, which creates the nose, concave, and tail of each skateboard—usually five to 15 at one time.
After the laminates are taken out from the press, holes for truck mounting are drilled by hand using a drilling rig. This drilled board is then shaped according to templates using a band saw and hand sanded.
It’s also coated with paint or sealant to protect it from wear and tear. Finally, any desired decorative design is screen printed on each deck that is dried up afterward prior to being shipped out!
Grip Tape and Bolts
Grip tape is essential to any skateboarder, as it provides a top surface sandpaper-like sheet that helps with gripping the deck. This is also held in place by bolts. In order to attach the trucks to the board, there are two sets of four holes drilled into the deck and bolts that go through these holes and secure them together.
Not only do these bolts hold the trucks onto your skateboard, but they are also adjustable for tuning. This means you can make minor adjustments to the tightness depending on how loose or snappy you want your ride. The important thing is to make sure each time after adjustment, the bolts are still tight enough so that you cannot undo them just by using your fingers.
Trucks are produced through a labor-intensive process that involves several steps. It all begins with the creation of a master truck pattern, which is made by hand using one of three materials – wood, plastic, or clay. This pattern is then used to make a match plate out of which a sand mold is made for forming the actual truck part.
Next, heated aluminum ingots are poured into the sand mold’s pouring basin sprue hole and through runners into the gate, where it takes the shape of the part in question. The sand mold also has axle openings so they can be in place when the aluminum is poured in.
After allowing enough time for cooling, the sand mold is broken by hand and the parts removed – these pieces include the kingpin knob, pivot cup, baseplate, and riser pad. Then comes heat-treating each of these parts using machines followed by grinding, polishing, and drilling them.
Finally, each truck is made complete by assembling it with kingpins, brushings, grommets washers, and nuts before it can be packed for shipment. That’s how trucks are made!
Baseplate and Kingpin
The baseplate and kingpin are essential components for any skateboard setup. The base plate is a strong, flat metal piece with pre-drilled holes that attach firmly to the skateboard deck.
This provides a stable connection for other parts like the trucks and wheels to be attached to the board. On the other hand, the kingpin is a large threaded pin or bolt that sticks out of the baseplate to provide even more stability when those parts are connected.
Together, they effectively create a strong foundation that keeps all other parts of your skateboard securely in place.
The hanger is an essential component of a skateboard, attaching to the other end of the kingpin. Constructed from either steel or a variety of lightweight and durable alloys, it’s designed to handle intense impacts and provide unparalleled strength.
Crucially, its T-shape houses both axles that stick out and incorporate both wheels so that you can ride in style! The hanger is most likely the heaviest and sturdiest part of your board since it keeps it completely intact – ensuring reliable performance over time!
Bushings are small rubber cups that play an essential role in turning a skateboard. They sit between the baseplate and hanger of the board and are held in place by a kingpin bolt that can be tightened or loosened depending on your preference.
These bushings come in a variety of hardness levels to suit different riding conditions, with technical and heavier riders typically preferring stiffer ones, while cruisers and lighter skaters lean towards softer bushings for easy turns. Over time, however, the bushings may need to be replaced once they start showing signs of wear or cracking.
In any case, it is important to choose the right type of bushings for your skateboarding needs as they play an essential part in how easily and smoothly your board turns.
The axle is a vital component of your skateboard, connecting the two wheels on each truck. They’re typically measured from 193-254mm and it’s important to make sure they are the correct size so that your wheels are within one-quarter of an inch of the edge of the deck. This ensures that there won’t be any rubbing or grinding, allowing your skateboard to run smoothly.
Axle nuts hold these axles in place and provide additional stability and traction when you ride. Without them, riding would not be nearly as smooth or stable. So if you want to get the best experience possible, then make sure that you have the right size axle and axle nuts for optimal performance.
Risers are an optional element that can be used to further enhance the skateboarding experience. They are typically made of plastic or rubbery material, and they sit between the baseplate and the deck. Their purpose is two-fold; they help absorb shock, offer extra cushioning and protect the wooden deck from powerful impacts transferred through the wheels and trucks.
Moreover, risers add some space between the wheels and the bottom side of the deck. This helps prevent any markers from getting caught in cuts or chips due to grinding tricks. However, it’s worth noting that risers do raise your center of gravity and make flip tricks more difficult to land successfully.
Wheels are essential for everyday machines, from tools and toys to larger machinery like forklifts and tractors. They are produced by mixing two polyurethane components together at elevated temperatures. The higher the quality of the materials used, the better the wheels will be.
The liquid created is then poured into aluminum molds using a mixing chamber and left to harden into solid slugs. These slugs are cut and shaped by hand on a lathe, with a blade creating the ridges called sidewalls, as well as its tread (riding surface).
If you want a design printed on your wheels, this process can also be done semi-automatically through a pad printing machine that transfers digital artwork onto the wheel. It takes multiple plates if multiple colors are involved so that they can all be transferred to the wheel. It’s all finished up once it’s packaged and ready for shipping!
Axle Nuts And Washers
Axle nuts and washers are an essential part of every skateboard. The axle nuts help to keep the wheels in place, as well as keep them spinning, although they do tend to wear out over time and should be replaced on a regular basis. The standard size for trucks with 8 mm axles is 5/16”.
Skate shops typically secure the hanger’s inner bearings by placing two washers between the axle nuts and the nuts themselves. This helps make sure that the wheels spin more smoothly and quickly, giving you a more enjoyable skating experience.
Bearings are essential for skateboards, as they serve to keep the wheels spinning smoothly on the axle. If you take apart a skateboard, you’ll find that it has eight bearings – two per wheel. Additionally, an aluminum spacer is often placed inside the wheel between each bearing to keep everything in alignment.
When it comes to the quality and performance of bearings, they are rated according to their ABEC (Annular Bearing Engineer’s Committee). The best and most expensive type of bearing is ceramic – perfect for eliminating heat generated from friction for a faster spinning wheel. However, precision steel bearings remain the go-to choice for most skateboarders due to their cost-effectiveness and reliability.
Assembling the skateboard
Putting together a skateboard can seem intimidating but really, it’s quite straightforward. You’ll need three components — the deck, the truck, and the wheels — plus grip tape to provide traction on the board.
The grip tape comes in a large rectangular sheet that needs to be smoothed over by hand in order to get rid of any air bubbles. A file or another flat-edged object is then used to define the edge of the board underneath the grip tape, and any extra pieces of tape are trimmed off with a safety knife or scissors.
Then, with an awl or other pointed object, you will have to expose all eight truck holes through the grip tape before placing your mounting bolts. The truck will then be installed and tightened using locknuts.
You will also need one set of bearings and a spacer per axle, as well as some washers and lugnuts for each wheel. Put your wheel over each axle so that it sits flush with your bearings and spacers before fitting in your second set of bearings. Finally, secure everything with washers followed by a lugnut – now your skateboard is ready to go!
Manufacturers of skateboards must ensure a high degree of quality control if they want to offer a safe product. All of the components, whether purchased separately or already assembled, must be checked thoroughly to make sure everything is secure and meets safety requirements. This includes checking all screws to ensure that they are tightened properly and will hold the trucks in place during stunts.
Any potential defects or weak points should also be identified before the product enters the market, this helps maintain consumer safety and confidence in the skateboard manufacturer’s products. Quality control is paramount when it comes to offering a reliable and safe skateboarding experience.
The future of skateboarding is something that many are wondering about. For starters, it’s likely that decks will be made with more artificial materials in the interior and a wooden exterior. This could lead to Nomex honeycomb at its core, while Kelver is one of the structural materials being explored. It could also mean more or fewer veneer layers when it comes to decks made from traditional wood.
In terms of decoration, sublimation printing may be used instead of screenprinting for graphics on the bottom of a deck. Wheels might have different shapes, colors, and even decorations, but their core component—polyurethane—will still remain the same if nothing else superior comes along. In this way, various aspects of skateboarding might change over time but some can still stay true to form!
Skateboards come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. With so many to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect skateboard that fits your needs, budget, and preferences. While wooden decks are the most popular of all skateboard constructions, other types such as metal, plastic and composite offer unique advantages that are worth considering.
Regardless of which material you pick, your skateboard should last a long time if it’s treated with the care it deserves.