We're heading off across the other side of the globe for this Shaper Story to meet Hugh of Hughies Boards in Queensland, Australia. Hugh started using Macho Fins in his handshaped wooden & cork boards last year, and we've thoroughly enjoyed providing him with a wide range of fin set ups - an order from Hughies is always an interesting one!
We sent Hugh our Shaper Stories questions to find out a bit more about him and his boards...
Tell us where you’re from and where you’re based.
I shape out of my house, which is located in a beach-side suburb called Yaroomba on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
What inspired your logo/brand name?
I wanted to keep my brand name simple, and the majority of our friends' kids called me Hughie, so I thought that would do it.
Tell us a bit about how, when and why you got into shaping.
I'm a joiner by trade, I was making high-end furniture out of solid timber and veneers. I always had my self-built furniture in my house, so why not my own hand-built surfboard? So I gathered together a whole heap of paulownia and I made a chambered paulownia log. It was embarrassingly heavy, so I wanted to try one with foam. I got myself a block of eps and cut some blanks and just winged it, they were good - very sketchy but I made it, it was sweet! I glassed a few up in our little shack at the time, and there was such a mess, I had resin everywhere! I saw Tom Wegener was making these foam core paulownia boards. I would study photos I could find of him making these things so I eventually pieced it all together and I came up with my vacuum bagged foam core corky. I made so many boards trialling heaps of different construction methods and materials, no sooner had I finished one, I was on to the next. Then one day I said to my wife "I'm gonna quit my job and sell surfboards". She was always my biggest supporter with many plans I had to do with our lives.
What kind of boards do you mostly shape?
I do a mixed variety of boards, and a pretty even number of models week to week. Sometimes the flavour of the month is my fish, next it's a middy, then a Simmons. For myself, I'm always shaping myself twinnies - if it looks like it would work, I put a twin set in.
What’s your preferred fin set up to a) shape and b) surf?
I like shaping for all different fin set ups - I just enjoy making boards. I do a lot of triplane bottom contoured boards now, and majority of the time it's a twin, so when I see someone order a twin, I get keen to bag on that bottom paulownia layer and the triplane shines. I prefer to surf keel fins and narrow flex fins, the responsiveness feeling of a flex fin is the jazz, it completely changes the whole feeling of a board. I've got volan singles that I have foiled up and I just keep sanding here and there for more flex, I like straight surfing on shorter boards, and a keel is just that, you can pick your line and it's set.
Best tip for the budding shaper?
LISTEN - the best thing I did was listen, to everything everyone had to say. Whether it's good or bad, take it on, fix the bad and continue with the good. If something works - don't change it.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY - boards have to be quality, if they are good, then you get repeat business. Yeah sure, I could start and finish 6-8 boards by myself a week, but they wouldn't be my best product. I would rather make 2-4 boards a week and know that I have done my very best on the whole board. There's always next week - if people want your boards they'll wait.
HELP OTHERS OUT - sharing knowledge is the most common way people get into shaping. Everyone can do it, it's not a million dollar business idea, so share the love. I encourage anyone that wants to learn this craft to ask the questions. I often speak to numerous different people around the world answering their questions about how to do this and that. I didn't invent this method, we all did, with everyone sharing knowledge and tips. In the beginning I would be in contact with Steve Hann, Grant Newby and Tom Wegener absolutely picking their brains on how to do this, how to do that, and I appreciate them so much, because I wouldn't be able to produce the boards I do today without them.
What’s been the most memorable board you’ve ever shaped & why?
Every board I build is memorable - I want to keep every customer's board! The pure joy you get when someone orders a board and you get to use your 2 hands and make something for someone else to enjoy is priceless. If I see one of my boards around the place, I can remember back to dealing with the customer, discussing the bottom contours, through to which fin would work best.
But my one most memorable board would be the first chambered log I made, because I can look back now on how far I've come, that thing was rough but it worked. It was the beginning. If hadn't made that board so heavy I wouldn't have thought to move to foam core.
What's the bonus of using Macho Fins in your boards?
I like everything quality, whether it be the symmetrical outline or fit in the box, I know that all the fins I order through Macho Fins are of this quality. You get some fin companies that have scratches or it's too tight and it just shouldn't be like that, especially when you're handing over this craft you have just hand made for someone and the fins are not up to scratch. If the fins look and work good, then the customer is happy that everything works smoothly, and then the word gets passed on to the next customer and this keeps us all busy making boards and fins.