Things have come a long way since skateboarding first became a popular hobby. Back in the 1970s kids picked up pretty much whatever was on offer at the local supermarket and off they went. As the sport became more popular, so advances in all aspects of a skateboards technology grew, from better decks, to better trucks and far superior wheels and bearings. In 1973, the introduction of polyurethane wheels, and boards became easier to control and more stunts were possible. At around the same time, skate parks opened with bowls and half pipes, leading to competitions, recognition and sponsorship. The race was on to gain an advantage with a better all-round board. Skateboarding had its ups and downs in popularity through the 80’s and 90’s, but with the emergence of high-profile exposure from ESPN and MTV’s X-Games competitions, skateboarding became seen as possibly the first extreme sport.
The introduction of art to the board
The first boards were generally pretty plain, but art began to become more popular, so the simple plain board began to give way to something that reflected culture and street trends. Bands, Comic book heroes, and original art design began to be picked up by deck manufacturers, who would introduce regular new limited edition designs, all looking to come up with the most appealing and best skateboard decks. Deck technology improvements were little changed through the tail end of the twentieth century, though some experimentation was done with the various veneers used in their make-up.
Today’s deck materials and assembly
Although most skateboard decks are still made of glue and wood, a range of composite materials are now also commonly found. Materials like Nylon, Foam, Fiberglass, Aluminium and Nylon are now increasingly used, and are normally decorated by screen printing. A deck generally starts life as a piece of Maple, which is peeled into veneers, before being stored in climate controlled environments to ensure the moisture content is optimised. Each veneer is then evenly coated with a water based glue are numbered and stacked according to the woods grain. A deck is comprised of seven layers, with the outer two layers, top and bottom, have the grain running nose to tail, the third and fifth with the grain side to side and the middle layer running the same as the outer layers. The deck is then hydraulically pressed while the glue sets.
The board is then shaped and the decorative design added, before being dried and prepared for shipping.
Choosing the right deck for your skateboard
While some low-end skateboards are assembled by manufacturers, most components are sold separately to consumers who put them together on their own. Today there are decks suited for different terrains, have specific widths, lengths, shapes and utilise special construction technology. Selecting the right one for you can be quite a difficult decision. Decks have differing levels of concavity across their surface, the more concave, the easier to turn or flip the board. Beginners are advised to go with middle concave decks and as they grow more proficient, decide which way to go from there.
Before buying it is a smart move to check out quality suppliers, who offer a wide range and can give good advice on making the right pick.