What Makes a Skateboard
A Skateboard Design is generally described by a few terms; Shape, Concave, Profile, and Kick Ramping. These elements can subtly or dramatically change the way a Skateboard not only looks, but also the way it feels under your feet and performs in general.
The Outline of a Skateboard is known as the Shape. These were originally inspired by Surfboards, but evolved to reflecting all kinds of different shapes inspired by nature, design, and engineering. The Nose of a Skateboard is generally the front of the board, just like a car, with the Tail being the back. The sides of the Skateboard are called the Rails. Shapes can range anywhere from being very square to very rounded, with sidecuts, flares, wings, and various elements used to disrupt the outline and offering performance value, along with aesthetics. Most Skateboards Taper towards the Tail, making them wider in the Nose, and narrower near the Tail, but there are many exceptions to that aspect. Anything that looks like it could be stood on, could be considered a Skateboard Shape.
- Length: Measurement from the Nose to the Tail of the Skateboard. Generally, longer boards are more stable, with shorter boards being more maneuverable.
- Width: Measurement from Rail to Rail at the widest point of the Skateboard. Wider boards are better for bigger riders or riders with larger feet, narrower boards are better for smaller and younger riders. Wider boards also offer a larger area to stand on called the Standing Platform, which is more comfortable for some people, with narrower boards being a bit more nimble.
- Wheelbase: Measurement of the distance between the Trucks; usually measured from the inner-most holes of the Hole Patterns. Narrower Wheelbases are generally more maneuverable, and wider Wheelbases are usually more stable. Multiple Wheelbase Hole Patterns can also be added to provide more versatility and options for mounting Trucks.
- Nose: Measurement from the Nose to the outer-most holes of the Hole Patterns closest to the Nose.
- Tail: Measurement from the Tail to the outer-most holes of the Hole Patterns closest to the Tail.
- Top: The actual Top of the board, where the rider places their feet.
- Bottom: The Lowest part of the Deck, closest to the ground while riding.
Concave is the longitudinal curvature of the Skateboard from Rail to Rail. Concave is added to most Skateboards to increase strength (ie; Roman Arch), but also helps to provide a cradle-feel for the rider's feet. There can be many degrees of simple aspects of Concave; from Mellow to Deep Radial Concaves, to advanced Concaves like W or Tub. Additional elements can also be added to Concave, such as Wheel Flares and Foot Pockets.
Profile refers to the latitudional aspect of a Skateboard from Nose to Tail, defining the board as Flat, Rockered, or Cambered. Rocker being that the Nose and Tail are higher than the middle, and Camber being the opposite. These aspects also affect the Kingpin Angles of the Trucks, depending if Rocker or Camber is added to the Profile, making the board easier or more difficult to maneuver respectively. Rocker also adds the feel of a pocket for your feet to feel even more locked in. Camber can add to a leaf-spring effect of a skateboard, allowing it to rebound more effectively out of turns. Camber and Rocker can also be combined together, along with other elements like Micro-Drop, Mounting Bumps, and Foot Pockets.
Kick Ramping is the when the Tail or Nose lifts up higher than the rest of the board's riding surface. Ramping in the Tail is called a Kicktail, and when additionally added to the Nose is called a Double Kick. Kicktails are used in a range of purposes such as performing tricks, lifting the board off curbs or drops, to simple acts of popping the board to your hand to get off the Skateboard. Kicktails vary in the ammount of height and in the curvature and distance of the Ramping, which depend on the rider's preference. Steeper Ramping applies more levereage to the Kicktail allowing for more pop, whereas Mellow Ramping provides better board feel. Most Skateboard with Double Kicks have steeper Ramping in the Nose than in the Tail, to make tricks such as Nollies easier to perform. Not all Skateboards have Kicktails or Double Kicks, and depend on the type of board and riders' preference.
*Check out our Skateboard Selector Guidebook for more info on picking the best Skateboard.
Most Skateboards are made with 7 Plys of Maple, Adhesive, a Skateboard Mold, and Pressure. Arbor Skateboards are made with Sustainably Sourced Canadian Maple, and Premium Wood Topsheets and Bottomsheets such as Palisander, Red Gum, and Black Walnut, or Finish Plys made of Bamboo.
These are the framework of the Skateboard, which provide strength, rigidity but also flex, along with a long lasting pop. Generally, 7 Plys are used, but there can be more or less plys used depending on the board strength, flex, and weight preferred. Most Skateboards are made from 5 Plys of Vertical Linear Plys, with 2 Plys of Horizontal Linear Plys called Cross Plys. Cross Plys add longitudinal rigidity, and provide overall strength and durability to the Deck. The Cross Plys are generally located near the middle of the Deck, for higher strength and better pop.
Wood Glue and Epoxy are the popular choices for an adhesive, which bonds the individual plys of Maple together. It can also bond Topsheets, Bottomsheets, Finish Plys, and advanced materials like Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber.
The glued plys are put into a Mold, to create the Concave, Profile, and Kick Ramping. Pressure is applied so the plys bond together, providing a solid piece of laid up wood that acts like plywood to maintain strength.
Topsheets & Bottomsheets
Arbor's natural wood aesthectic is driven by our Topsheets and Bottomsheets. These are thin Veneers made from Premium Sustainable Wood Species, placed as the Top and (sometimes) Bottom Layer of the Skateboard, which elevate higher aspects of grain pattern and figuring.
The Bamboo Plys we use on our Bamboo Collection models act as an extra Ply, increasing durability and pop, while lengthening the life of the Skateboard, and elevating the natural material aesthetic.
Additional elements are added to a Skateboard, some are necessary like Hole Patterns, but additional elements are added to cater towards the needs of the rider.
The Holes in the Skateboard are known as the Hole Patterns, and are used to mount Trucks to the board. These Hole Patterns come in sets of 4 in a rectangular shape, and can be drilled in different locations of the Skateboard, affecting Wheelbase, Nose, and Tail Lengths. There are usually 2 sets of Hole Patterns, but some boards also offer multiple Hole Patterns to offer multiple options of Wheelbases depending on the needs of the rider. There are different types of Hole Patterns, Old School and New School.
- Old School: Hole Patterns were originally wider, towards the Nose and Tail. These evloved to New School, narrowing the Hole Patterns. Older Skateboards have Old School Hole Patterns, and some new Skateboards also have the Old School Hole Patterns, but are usually throwbacks to older models and designs.
- New School: When tricks evolved, such as grinds on curbs and handrails, the Truck Mounting Hardware scraped the surface that was being ridden on and could catch and stop the rider. To fix this issue, Truck manufacturers narrowed the Hole Patterns in the Trucks, to allow for better clearance between the Hardware and riding surface. This narrower Hole Pattern is referred to as New School, signaling the modern era of Skateboards.
Wheels can get too close to the Bottom of the Skateboard while riding, and can cause them to rub and sometimes stop the rider abruptly, also known as Wheel Bite. Wheel Wells are cut into the Bottom of the board, creating more space and eliminating Wheel Bite. Wheel Wells vary in depth and can be Drum Cut or CNC Routed. Drum Cut Wheel Wells resemble a cylindrical shape, while CNC Routed Wheel Wells are offered in various shapes.
Traditional Skateboard mounting is called Top Mounting or Top Mount. The Trucks are attached to the Bottom of the Skateboard. Top Mounts are more maneuverable, and the standing platform height provides better leverage, making the Skateboard easier to Ollie and perform tricks.
Drop Through Mounting is when there are additional holes routed through the Skateboard Deck surface, allowing Truck Baseplates to be mounted through to the Top of the Deck. This lowers the platform height of the Skateboard, making it more stable. Drop Throughs reduce fatigue during longer commutes, as the rider doesn't need to bend their knees as much while pushing. This can also make advanced maneuvers like Power Slides easier as the lower board height provides more leverage to engage into slides.
Flush Truck Mounting
When Rocker or Camber is added to Skateboards, it affects the Kingpin Angle of the Trucks. Flush Truck Mounts are carved into the bottom of the board by CNC, creating a flat surface area to mount the Trucks. This keeps both Trucks on the same flat plane as each other, which doesn't affect Kingpin Angles. On boards without Rocker or Camber, Flush Mounting reduces gaps created when Trucks are mounted close to where the Kicktail Ramping starts. Flush Truck Mounting also lowers the platform height of the Skateboard.