Ron House – stand up paddle surf board master shaper and personal shaper to Laird Hamilton – Video Part 1
Ron House gives a tour of his shaping factory in San Clemente, California, where he talks briefly about the beginnings of his career as a board shaper. This was at a time when short boards from Australia were of relatively new concept in the shores of California.
Ron also explains how he met Laird Hamilton and started shaping stand up paddle boards for him — all before the rise of stand up paddle surfing as a popular water sport.
Click here for Ron House video part one
Evan Leong: Kind of dark in this camera but I can’t tell. So here we are at Ron House, master shaper out here in San Clemente. Say aloha.
Ron House: Aloha!
Evan Leong: So now we’re out here in his shaping factory. Got a chance to check it out – looking all around, tons of boards out here so let’s find out what’s the deal.
Ron House: We got lots of boards here mostly surfing versions like this – tri-fins, single fin all-around boards.
Evan Leong: How big are these boards that you are showing me?
Ron House: This one is about 12 feet.
Evan Leong: That one is 12.
Ron House: This one is about 12. This one is 9’6”. It’s a 9’6” right here; it’s a mukaha board for surf. This one is a 12-foot semi-gun for Northern California.
Evan Leong: Would you ride a steep wave with that thing or what?
Ron House: Yeah.
Evan Leong: Yeah? So you’re putting the drain plugs in too then. I mean the air plugs or whatever.
Ron House: This one has them. I don’t think on these boards are going to be particularly effective so I’m not going to use them.
Evan Leong: Uh huh.
Ron House: Then we got boards like this one. This is a 14-foot downwind race board.
Evan Leong: This thing is pretty thick, huh? The rail and everything.
Ron House: Yeah, yeah. Try and carry the thickness out.
Evan Leong: Damn. How thick is this thing?
Ron House: Five inches.
Evan Leong: That’s only five inches thick? Seems thicker. And there’s real sharp rail on the bottom then huh?
Ron House: Yeah.
Evan Leong: Right here.
Ron House: Yeah. Very flat bottom.
Evan Leong: So you don’t mind too much V on your boards then?
Ron House: I have a little bit of V in that tail of the all-around boards; a little bit more on the surfing versions and on the race boards I put, the downwind type open ocean boards, I put V on the nose and flat from the middle back.
Evan Leong: Ok. Why do you do that?
Ron House: The V on the nose is to cut the chop so that it slaps. After that I just want them flat and clean. (_______) and to keep the water off the board.
Evan Leong: So you initially shaped all of Laird’s boards too?
Ron House: I do, although I don’t shape his open ocean boards. I shape his surfing boards and his guns.
Evan Leong: How did you guys hook up?
Ron House: A long way back with mutual friends. He talked with Jerry Lopez about getting boards made and, Jerry is in Oregon now, and was into 12-foot boards so he sent him down to me (_____) and we have other mutual friends. So he called me up, he said he wanted to do this stand up heel and was explaining to me what it was because I didn’t know. It was about five years ago. And started making boards for him. The sport has really kind of taken off.
Evan Leong: What’s the difference between the Laird Surftech 1 you made for Surftech and then these other ones you got here?
Ron House: The Laird is designed primarily to be more of an inner board, very user-friendly and stable. It surfs okay but it’s not particularly fine into surfing but it’s very stable, easy board, which is what Laird had in mind. It was his idea to make it a forgiving learners board.
Evan Leong: Was it made for lakes and things like that or was it actually made for surf?
Ron House: Well, it was made to kind of do the all around deal. It would be very well suited for lakes. Laird’s idea was he wanted it to be a real universal board for, you know, a lot of beginners; not so many good guys will last. That one was designed to accommodate a wide range of people.
Evan Leong: And then now you’re going in to like higher performance kinds of stuff or…?
Ron House: There are three more Surftech models coming out, which are more like the boards that you see here. There’s an all-around 11’6” and 11’0” and there’s a 10-foot surfing version; and they’re almost identical other than their construction.
Evan Leong: So what is that one over there? Looks like a disc kind of shape. Is that a stand up also?
Ron House: Yeah. This one is a…
Evan Leong: It’s a small one, huh?
Ron House: This one is a quad. Actually it has got five fin placements so you can run it as a twin, a tri or a quad.
Evan Leong: Uh huh. It’s for a really light person or something or what?
Ron House: This one is 9’3” x 28”. A moderate sized person could ride this one. If you’re skillful you could probably be 180 pounds to ride this one. Although what would ride this board is a small guy.
Evan Leong: And then these ones look kind of similar to the ones that were at Tim’s place, Tropical Blends, huh?
Ron House: Yeah. This one is 11’6” all around board. This one is good for surfing, good for paddling in the ocean. You know, five or ten mile paddling…
Evan Leong: I notice that your tails are kind of narrower too, huh?
Ron House: Yeah.
Evan Leong: Is that more for surfing?
Ron House: Yeah. On the all-around boards, the tails are a little bit narrow and on the tri-fin boards are a little wider, that one for instance.
Evan Leong: These are short too, huh?
Ron House: This one is. This one is 10 feet. This look about the same.
Evan Leong: So let’s look at this then. If you’re looking at – you got a lot of volume in your nose then, huh?
Ron House: Yeah…
Evan Leong: Kind of area…
Ron House: Yeah. You know they need that floatation now fairly for rails for stability…
Evan Leong: And your rails are round. On these ones they seem round, huh?
Ron House: They’re low with a tucked edge at the bottom; going in to a hard edge at the back; bottom is pretty flat; got a little bit of V in the tail.
Evan Leong: So it goes from here – a little bit more round – and then it flattens out back there.
Ron House: It’s basically a performance long board shape but just with more volume so you could stand up. This one is pretty cool. We apply abstract resin color laminations.
Evan Leong: How about like a… is there concave on this thing or what?
Ron House: Not really, just pretty straight flat. V in the tail.
Evan Leong: So in here you’re making almost all stand ups nowadays.
Ron House: I’m making lots of them, yeah. I still make other boards. These are little mini-guns for young men coming up.
Evan Leong: Those are for like kids or what?
Ron House: No, this is for regular people for bigger waves. This one is a…
Evan Leong: They look so small compared to these stand ups now.
Ron House: These are (_____) for the trade show. They have a color inlay on the deck of Drew Art.
Evan Leong: It’s a piranha looking thing.
Ron House: Yeah, Drew drew the art project on this one. Here’s another one.
Evan Leong: Pretty cool. How did you get in to all these anyways?
Ron House: The stand up?
Evan Leong: Yeah, or just the surf shaping and all that.
Ron House: Well, I was a teen rider at a surfboard company called Surfboards Hawaii and when short boards came in, the manufacturers didn’t really know what was going on with it. So I was working down at Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs, San Diego. There was a movement down there towards short boards with the Australian influence. (_____) who brought these ones back from Australia was showing us these boards. So I’d go upto Surfboards Hawaii and said (_____) after a while I felt, I could shape. 40 years later…
Evan Leong: And how often do you get out in the water then?
Ron House: Pretty much everyday.
Evan Leong: Oh yeah. Are you doing mostly stand up now too or what?
Ron House: Yeah.
Evan Leong: Which one are you riding?
Ron House: I’m riding the 9’6”. Basically this…this design basically.
Evan Leong: Because you’re about what? 140? How much do you weigh? You’re light huh?
Ron House: 150.
Evan Leong: 150? See it’s thicker. So real wide in the nose and then tapering off in the back; got an air plug thing. There’s no concave on this thing?
Ron House: No, got a V in the tail; tri-fin.
Evan Leong: How many of these are you guys making a day nowadays? Must be a lot huh?
Ron House: We’re running around three a day.
Evan Leong: Oh yeah.
Ron House: Not a bunch. Things are slowing down now. This is another interesting one. This is another – Drew drew the art on the nose.
Evan Leong: Big one. What is that? 12 feet?
Ron House: I don’t think this is exactly…
Evan Leong: Maybe 11 something, huh?
Ron House: Yeah, 11’6”.
Evan Leong: So what’s going on in this… so what’s he doing? He’s spray painting?
Ron House: Yeah, this is the airbrush room. This is Carl over here.
Evan Leong: How’s it going man?
Carl: Hi, good!
Evan Leong: So you’re going to paint this one?
Carl: It just gets spin line.
Evan Leong: Oh, okay. How big is this one?
Carl: That’s 11’6”.
Evan Leong: Cool.
Ron House: Down over here…
Evan Leong: Check it out…cool. It smells.
Ron House: Yeah.
Evan Leong: That can’t be good for you.
Ron House: These boards are all made out of epoxy now. That was polyester.
Evan Leong: So that thing is going to be heavy, huh?
Ron House: Well, it’s a small one so it won’t be.
Evan Leong: Epoxy, though, I heard that you can get allergic to it super fast or something.
Ron House: I’ve heard that. We don’t have that problem here – knock on wood – but…
Evan Leong: We’re going to the dark…I’m going to turn my night vision here.
Ron House: This is my shaping room.
Evan Leong: Oh, so this is your personal area?
Ron House: Yeah, this is where I shape. This is my other… shape lights getting ready to go.
Evan Leong: Oh ok. So what do you got in here then? The light in here is much better.
Ron House: These are stock boards getting ready to go. These are four of them. They’re going to get their fin boxes and then…
Evan Leong: So that’s 10’6” only?
Ron House: Yeah.
Evan Leong: Really thick in the middle, huh?
Ron House: That one is about 4 ½. I keep my decks and bottoms pretty flat so it carries the (___) out.
Ron House - stand up paddle surf board master shaper and personal shaper to Laird Hamilton - Part 1 [9:24m]: Download