I’m all fired up on handplanes. The beach below my house, Salt Creek, is madness in the summer and long stretches of it are blackballed from board surfing. A perfect alternative is bodysurfing using hand planes, miniature boards that lift you out of the water, set you trimming, and give a measure of control otherwise missing.
You can buy beautiful hand planes — state of the art Brownfish models go for $140 — but the little sticks beg to be done it yourself. Since we’re talking about a decidely low-fi pursuit, any old plank will do, so long as it’s well sealed.
In this video, Cy Sutton of Korduroy.tv walks you through the steps of making a handplane from Paulownia wood, which is just a little heavier than balsa (he sells kits for $50). To get something workable, it’s almost impossible to screw up, but to create a hand plane that’s easy on the eyes and effective in the water, that takes a little more care. The vid’s an excellent place to start.
And here are few to get you inspired: