Build Skateboard Decks in Class!


Skateboard Deck building can be used as a focus to include a wide range of subjects into your curriculum.

Help your students earn their mandatory and elective credits while building skateboard decks in class or just build decks for fun!

Easy to teach, easy to learn, a win-win for students and teachers.

Teachers now building skateboard decks in class report that:

  • attendance levels are up
  • students are focused, attentive and apply themselves to complete their decks
  • At-Risk, Over/Under achievers easily grasp the learning concepts and excel
  • teamwork and mentorship occur naturally during the build process
  • students discover hand work skills they didn’t know they had
  • the program provides great flexibility to include required learning
  • students relate well to skateboards and its counter-culture aspects
  • it is a great opportunity to involve their immediate and outside community
  • it can be a self-supporting program for materials
  • is a great fund-raising program

 

Students build a laminated maple veneer deck which they can be proud to display as an art project, or eventually use as transportation or exercise. Hardware does not need to be a part of this project, keeping costs and liability issues to a minimum.

 

Roarockit skateboard deck builds do not require the use of power tools and can be done in any classroom or even outdoors. No harmful glues, paints or coatings need to be used. Maple Veneer is 100% Canadian, and Kit parts are 99% North American made!

 

Skateboard Deck Building works for:

At-Risk Youth - After School - Practical Arts - Incentive / Rewards - Environmental Projects - - Shop Class – Technical Construction – Math, Science and Physics - Art and Design - Youth Outreach - Mentorship - Summer Camp – Skate Park and Store related events - School and Community Fundraisers

 

Full Curriculums and Lessons

Building skateboard decks in class provides the opportunity to incorporate many lessons, some of which are outlined below.

The Roarockit deck building system has been working successfully in schools around the world since 2000.

Roarockit Skateboard Company’s (Canada) Education Consultant, Craig Morrison is a high school teacher in Toronto Canada who has recently expanded his already successful Skateboard Factory program to include a full-time curriculum based on skateboard deck building and street art. Craig will be offering his students a curriculum to allow them to earn high school compulsory and elective credits over 2 semesters. Students will gain entrepreneurial experience, and also receive an honorarium!

We invite you to visit oasisskateboardfactory.blogspot.com, for a progress report on his exciting programs!

Curriculum Subjects to consider working into your own school program.

Science and the Physics of Vacuum Pressure: Roarockit Skateboards are made with atmospheric pressure to press the veneers over a mold into shape. Include your own relevant experiments about the physics and practical uses of vacuum.

Woodworking: Maple veneer (especially Canadian-grown) is known to be the best in the world for skateboards and is included in Roarockit deck kits. Learning about grain direction, strength of wood, preparing, gluing and finishing are just a few of the lessons possible.

Environment: Skateboards have a “green” approach to many topics, including transportation, locally aquired materials, hand built, non-toxic materials, and leave only a small carbon footprint. 

Art & Design: This section is generally the area that can be expanded the most and can fill an entire semester. Include deck graphic concepts, the history of deck art, design and application, and many more topics.

Business and Entrepreneurship: Create an ongoing program by building multiple decks with the reusable tools and Thin Air Press Kits. Create a company store, manage the funds, find sponsors, this can all be part of an ongoing program.

Leadership: Once students have the skills to build a skateboard deck, they can then assist or teach others through mentorship, outreach, summer camp and after-school programs.

 

Science and Physics

Math, Science and the Physics of Vacuum Pressure: Building skateboard decks using atmospheric pressure is a simple yet effective way to understand what vacuum is.

Can you bend 7 layers of 1/16” (1.5mm) maple veneer at once using a plastic wine pump and a vinyl bag?

Learn why the vacuum created inside a Thin Air Press is so powerful! Use a mathematical formula to work out how many psi are generated by the high pressure pump over the area of a skateboard deck.

Points of Learning:

  • what is vacuum?
  • what is atmospheric pressure?
  • how is vacuum pressure measured?
  • how many psi per deck is generated inside a Thin Air Press?
  • why does the foam mold not crush under the pressure?
  • when does water boil?
  • why does the skateboard glue dry in the vacuum bag but not in the bottle?
  • how does vacuum relate to outer space?
  • what would happen if astronauts didn’t wear space suits?
  • study vacuum technology in the sports, aeronautics and other industries

Demonstrations, Experiments and Activities:*

Levitation with Lung Power - incredibly, air can lift a person! Balloon in a Bottle - why can’t you do it? Suck an Egg into a Jar - it happens before your eyes Magic Lid - atmospheric pressure vs. gravity, what’s the difference?

*descriptions of these are included in our Teacher’s Kits Mini-Curriculums (with thanks to teacher Leanne McKee).

 

Woodworking Without Power Tools


For years, power tools have become the mainstay of the woodworking world. While they certainly have their place, hand tools are also a viable way to work with wood.

Vacuum press technology is not new, however until the Thin Air Press Kit was invented, the process was rather complicated and expensive. Ted Hunter’s invention has simplified the process of vacuum laminating to its essence, making it easy to use and much less expensive. Working with hand tools also avoids insurance and liability issues, which are considerations in some shops and schools.

Some reading this may consider using a vinyl bag, foam mold and a hand vacuum pump a tad simple for doing “serious” woodworking. However old dogs CAN learn new tricks from the thousands of students who have successfully laminated 7 layers of 1/16” (1.5mm) maple veneer into a 3-dimensional skateboard deck by hand power!

Points of Learning:

Wood:

  • preparing veneer sheets with sand paper
  • understanding grain direction of wood veneers
  • why has the skateboard industry standardized on 7 layers in a deck
  • what is the order of grain direction in a deck?
  • is all maple the same?
  • understanding the strength vs. flexibility of maple veneer
  • why do the veneers change length and width on their own?
  • what sorts of glue are used for wood laminating
  • how do they make coloured veneer?
  • laminate coloured veneer internally or as a face sheet
  • using inlay or marquetry as a decorative finish

Tools:

  • how does a vacuum bag work as a clamp and why use it?
  • what’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner and the hand pump?
  • why not use an industrial electric vacuum pump?
  • using a hand scraper, hand plane, spoke shave or rasp to finish the edges
  • what grades of sandpaper to use, and in what order to smooth the deck?
  • how to use a wood clamp
  • what other uses would the Thin Air Press be good for?

Finishing:

  • stains, water-based or spray (solvent) paints, which to use and why?
  • clear coatings, which to use, when and why?
  • how to apply stains, paints and coatings successfully

sanding between finish coats for exceptional finishes

Skateboards are GREEN

Making Skateboards is even GREENER!!

Roarockit Skateboard kits are composed of the all-important maple veneer, which is grown, harvested and milled in the long cold winters of north eastern Canada.

Skateboards contribute many environmental benefits to our society:

  • Skateboards are non-powered eco-friendly transportation
  • Skateboards are a non-cost form of exercise

Roarockit Skateboard Deck Kits lower the carbon footprint:

  • the best skateboard wood in the world is Canadian grown maple veneer
  • maple logs are simply rotary cut into sheets and kiln dried
  • wood is not heavily processed with bleaches, pesticides and glues (like bamboo)
  • no power tools are used for the deck building process
  • kit parts are all (or almost all) reusable and or recyclable
  • kits are designed for years of use
  • kits can be used for other laminated projects, not just skateboards
  • finished decks are built to last many years, not disposable
  • glues, paints and coatings are water-based
  • hand deck building supports local businesses and workers
  • hand deck building promotes do-it-yourself projects instead of offshore and off the shelf purchases
  • custom deck building provides a potential local business to small builders 

 

Skateboard Art and Design

Skateboard art culture is an exciting and relevant topic with many branches to explore in both the underground and legitimate art worlds.

This is the most flexible and expandable part of using skateboard deck building in a curriculum. From simply designing and painting a sanded deck, to an in-depth exploration of its history, skateboard art provides a rich resource for learning and discussion.

Art sessions can start even before the decks are built, and carry on past when they are finished and ready to hang in an exhibition!

Points of Learning:

  • Elements and Principles of Design
  • Logo design (encourage individual creation of personal or school logos)
  • Copyright and intellectual property rights of art
  • Social Messaging - local and world street art
  • Stencil art
  • Skate Park art (perhaps a field trip?)
  • Pop culture relating to skateboards
  • History of skateboard art
  • Graffiti and street art, current and historical
  • Stages of design, from thumbnail sketches to final layouts
  • Colour theory, terms and definitions
  • Type fonts, hand lettering
  • Using symbols to represent other things
  • Paints: oil/solvent based, water based, stains
  • Paint application: brush, sponge, spray, airbrush, roller, layering
  • Masking tape stencilling for one-off designs
  • Hand cut stencils for repeat elements, intricate patterns and design elements
  • Designing for a customer, approvals and delivery
  • Art show event planning and advertising posters and flyers
  • Setting up an art show, location and hanging a show
  • Displaying skateboard final art decks with backdrops, support materials

 

Business and Entrepreneurship

Create an ongoing program by building multiple decks with the reusable tools and Thin Air Press Kits. Create a company store, manage the funds, find sponsors, while providing a compelling reason to come to class!

The Oasis Skateboard Factory Model: each student builds 2 (or more) skateboard decks. One deck becomes their own, then they are required to use their creativity to market the other deck to a member of the outside community. The challenge is to offer their product for sale, then support that sale by completing the assignment to the customer’s satisfaction on delivery. Most of Oasis’ finished skateboard “products” are now fixtures at coffee houses and other shops both locally and beyond the school.

Points of Learning:

  • designing a marketable skateboard deck “product”
  • creating a business plan
  • supply & cost of raw materials
  • applying for grants, loans or donations
  • managing funds, book keeping and balance sheets
  • management of production schedules and delivery commitments
  • sales and marketing of the skateboard decks
  • promotional ideas and methods
  • entrepreneurship in the skateboard industry
  • contributing to society and the skateboard world
  • creating and delivering a social message through skateboard deck building

Roarockit Skateboard Company (Canada) was excited to announce that the first school (that they know of) has developed a full 2-Semester credit program for grades 9, 10 and 11. ALL courses are taught with a Skateboard Theme including running an entrepreneurial business. Students work with local artists & business sponsors to design custom skateboards and get the opportunity to receive an honorarium. Students present community workshops and art displays.

Artist/Teacher Craig Morrison is well known for his Arts & Social Change Program at the Oasis Alternative School, and as well as his Stencil Art seminars and teachings. Craig has masterminded this new teaching venture, which you are welcome to view: http://oasisskateboardfactory.blogspot.com/

 

Teamwork, Leadership and Mentorship!

Laminating decks with the Roarockit process works best as a team effort!

Teachers report a high level of cooperation and interaction between students during these builds! Age, ability and other issues disappear while they help each other master the process of laminating, finishing, painting and displaying their skateboard decks.

From the skate park rider, to the woodworker, to the student more interested in the art side of the project, bringing them together with one project allows each student the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the class experience.

Once the build process has been learned, each student (depending on age) has the potential to become a teacher or assistant. Leadership and Life Skill lessons can be developed with this process, with programs and venues such as:

  • Mentorship Programs
  • After School Programs
  • At-Risk Programs
  • Lower School assistance
  • Outreach Programs in local and beyond communities
  • Skate Park Events
  • Professional Development Sessions
  • Science / Practical Arts Sessions
  • Science Fair Demonstrations
  • Summer Camps

The teamwork required to build skateboards makes this an ideal program to bring students together. Many others will find skills they didn’t know they possessed. Empowered by knowing how to make a skateboard has given many students the confidence to overcome “issues”.

Skateboard deck building has proven itself to be the missing ingredient to a curriculum that engages youth.

Points of Learning:

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership Skills
  • Mentoring Skills

How to do it?

Teacher’s Kits are the very best way to become familiar with the deck building process, available in Street Deck and Long Board sizes.

Both kits include 2 sets of veneer and glue as well as ALL the reusable tools, materials, instructions plus a mini-curriculum to help you set up your own class program.

Start by using one set of veneer and glue to actually build one deck, learning the system with your own hands-on session. Use the other set as a demonstration for your school administration, to promote interest in your classes or group, or incorporate the extra set during the first class session.

The foam mold, Thin Air Press and tools are all reusable, and can be used for many many builds.

Even if your school is equipped with parts included in these kits, we highly recommend at least one Teacher’s Kit, so that the full experience of laminating and finishing process is understood.

All materials and tools are available individually from Roarockit by order form, which can be requested by email: info@roarockit.co.uk 

Funding: this is a major issue with almost all schools. While we frequently get requests for donations, what we offer instead are suggestions on how schools have found a way to start up a skateboard building program for their students.

The start-up portion of setting up a class can quickly use up a budget. However once the tools are invested in, they are reusable and only require glue and veneer to continue building decks in class after class.

GRANTS: are perfect to cover the initial investment of the reusable tools. Materials can then be self-sustaining through sales or auctions of finished decks. (many schools require students to build 2 decks per term for this reason).

MATERIALS FEE: on a per-student basis, collect the cost of the “consumable” items (veneer and glue) instead of using the yearly budget.

SKATEBOARD FACTORY: generate a self-sustaining program by operating a company store and generating income through sales. Offer a credit or life skills course for the management of this program.

CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP: through personal, school and community connections.

MENTORSHIP PROGRAMMING: budgets may be available to groups that involve mentorship. Match up pairs of under and over achievers to create a learning and support system within your own classroom.

 

Taking it Further

All over the world, thousands of custom decks such as pool boards, drop decks, dancers and downhill boards have been designed and pressed using the Roarockit system by enterprising builders.

With Ted Hunter’s pioneering use of foam to shape the mold, builders can now design and shape their own styles of decks. Tutorials are posted on our blog and at ministryofwood.com 

Composite materials such as carbon fiber and fiberglass can also be used in the Thin Air Press. Inlay and marquetry have also been used with great success.

Veneer is available in uncut sheets for custom shaping, as well as larger Thin Air Press vacuum bags. Use of a bandsaw or jigsaw will be required to trim out custom shapes.

Points of Learning:

  • explore existing skateboard styles, shapes in relation to their uses
  • construction planning and designing for a new or improved skateboard
  • include these construction properties
    • changing the number of veneer layers
    • including more or less cross band grain or long grain layers
    • strength and flexibility vs shape
    • using different adhesives, ie: wood glue vs epoxy
    • learning to use composite materials, ie: carbon and fiberglass
  • drafting custom templates for a new deck design
  • shaping foam molds using templates, foam sheets and hand tools
  • hands-on experimentation while building custom decks
  • hot wire method to shape a foam mold

Please note that Taking the Process Further as listed on this page requires a high level of experience with both building decks in the Roarockit Thin Air Press and using composite materials. This is not recommended for first time builders, trust us!!



Want to build your own skateboard in a workshop environment?

Join us at the FAR Academy, the UK's first and only skateboard building academy. School student and adult classes available.

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