February 12 2021 – Sam Blondeau
Skateboarding is and always has been about celebrating individuality. As a sport where creativity and progression are stimulated by the inspiration from watching other riders, an often overlooked source of creativity is the board itself. While distinct disciplines necessitate certain boards, two boards from the same discipline with different looks can inspire a rider in a wide array of ways! When the skateboarders of the late 70s and early 80s first began designing their own cut-outs, a creative tsunami flooded the market with loads of different shapes and looks for people to choose from. Each overall design was as idiosyncratic as their creator featuring colour palates and art that not only made the boards stand out amongst themselves, but profoundly reflected the rider’s persona. The artistic interpretation of boards has been an enormous part of the skateboarding experience and has firmly withstood the test of time.
We’ve been making boards for the past ten years with the idea that it is necessary to accompany every shape we offer with the right graphic for us to truly stand behind the sickest Zenit Boards we can bring to you not only in terms of avantgarde construction and performance but in terms of aesthetics as well. Notwithstanding all our effort, one criterion that we can’t always hit on the head is to match your exact board preference as a rider. Yes, we mean you, the one reading this article.
We’re the first to understand that sometimes you might want to tweak the look of one of our boards for you to be more inspired. Not only does handcrafting the board in house allow us to put every ounce of our passion into every one of them, but it also allows us to customize them to meet that missing criterion especially for you.
The online customization process allows you to select several prominent characteristics of the board to modify, the first of them being the colour and the graphic. Instead of mechanically printing an image onto a material that will later be applied to the board, we mix our paint with the epoxy that is applied to the biaxial or triaxial fibreglass that will appear as the top and bottom of the board. Epoxy is much stronger than wood glue and can endure much more abrasion than a printed graphic, meaning it sustains the colour of your choice for much longer. As for the graphic, we either print it directly onto the Zen-ply before the background colour is applied or onto the freshly cut and sanded board before it goes off to varnishing.
Important to remember is that we cycle through predetermined paint mixes to decorate our boards. If you would like to change the colour to one that is not offered amongst the list, we’re open to trying! Note however that we cannot assure perfection as we do not have the same kind of technology that a paint shop has.
The next available customization is the carbon fibre, of which we offer two different types. Both offer the same physical properties once cured in the board but differ when it comes to the weave pattern. The full black carbon has a simple biaxial pattern where the horizontal fibres alternately weave over and under the vertical fibres, part of what gives it its high torsional strength. In contrast, the camo carbon features an erratic weave where some horizontal fibres pass under more than one vertical fibre and vice versa in order to create the militarized effect. One offers a clean and crisp look, and the other adds a subtly bolder aspect to the board. What’s more, when added to a board that does not already have it, carbon is an ideal lightweight reinforcement to enhance the board's solidity and even it's pop!
We intermittently receive requests to let the wood grain show through the base of the board for a more natural look. Instead of restricting the choice of wood to the maple our wooden cores are made of, we decided to offer the even more aesthetically pleasing grains of black limba, walnut and ash. The chosen wood is pressed onto the board as the bottommost layer. Although it does not structurally reinforce the board, it adds elegance and an endlessly varying wood grain that makes each board unique.
Finally, despite there not being a visible option to do so, it remains possible to alter the cut-out of the board. While we can change the silhouette of a board, we cannot alter physical properties like the concave, the kicktail profile, the rocker or the length. The six molds that the boards are pressed and cured in cannot be modified, and so the shape you see is the shape you can get. The cut-out is customizable when it comes to the computer numeric cutting stage. This tool chops off the crust of the composite sandwich from what will later become the sanded and varnished board. We have several cut-outs that are not advertised on the website, so if you’ve had a Zenit board in the past that you would like us to recreate, or if you saw a sick shape on our Instagram page and want the same one, simply send an email containing an image or the name of the shape that you want to firstname.lastname@example.org to see if it’s possible!
If you’ve been dreaming of riding a longboard that looks exactly how you want it to look, now is your chance! Customization is a service that is not widely offered throughout the skateboarding world as most boards are build and then shipped prefabricated to distributors. Being that all our boards are handmade in the same warehouse that they’re packaged and shipped from, the level of craftsmanship at your disposal helps to elevate your longboarding experience to exactly what you want it to be while still remaining affordable. I guess you could say that dreams do come true!