Surf Tip: Re-waxing Your Board
Re-waxing my board is not really something I look forward to anymore, especially with my longboards. It’s messy, time consuming, and I’d much rather be surfing. However, sometimes you just can’t avoid it. And, as I was recently reminded, re-waxing will give you the opportunity to examine your board for dings hidden by the months of built up, dirty old wax. A fresh wax job on your board is the next best thing to getting a new board. I don’t do it often enough, but when I do take the time to apply a fresh coat my board looks about a thousand times better. Also, wax gets heavy over time, and can definitely add weight. Just feel how heavy all the old wax is when you’ve taken it off. And then of course is everyone’s favorite reason to re-wax: surf trips. This means taking off that cold water wax and putting on the tropical.
1.) Choose a location
Outdoors is preferable. You’re not going to be able to keep all the wax off the floor no matter how neat you try to be, and it’s not that desirable to grind wax into your carpet or hardwood floor. You’ll also need to leave your board out in the sun for a good 5 minutes to allow the wax to soften enough to the point where removing it is a breeze. If you don’t let it soften you’ll have a hard time scraping it off. If you have to do this in winter, you can lay down some newspaper and use a hair dryer (be careful, don’t burn your board).
2.) Protect your board
Lay down a bunch of towels, use a couple of padded sawhorses, or do it on the grass. Just don’t put your poor board on the concrete and start scraping away at the wax. No bueno. Also – try to avoid putting too much pressure on the fins. I think shortboard fins are a little more sturdy, but the length of longboard skegs makes them extra vulnerable. Just be safe take them out if you have to lay the board on a flat surface.
3.) Find a wax remover
Sometimes surf shops sell special wax scrapers / combs. I think one is called a Wax Buddy. However, you can go super cheap and use an old gift card or similar credit card type piece of plastic. Don’t use metal scrapers – that will wreck your board. There’s also something called a Pickle. Has anyone tried this?
4.) Scrape it down
There’s something very satisfying in taking out a big swathe of old, black wax and revealing that beautiful white board underneath. Bet you didn’t remember your board looked that good, huh? I like to put all the wax in an old grocery bag as I work. Some people like to mash it together and make sculptures. Whatever floats your boat.
5.) Buff it out
I like to take a couple paper towels and buff out the remaining wax that might have been left on. This really only works if the wax is still pretty soft from sitting in the sun. Firm pressure will remove most of that leftover wax, especially from out of any pressure dents. You don’t need to use chemical wax remover (unless you’re trying to affix something adhesive to your board, like a tail pad or Go Pro camera – then you definitely should use it).
6.) Inspect for dings
I recently took all the wax off of my longboard. While I was doing so I noticed a tiny water droplet appear near the rail. I hadn’t used the board in a few days so I knew it should be completely dry. Upon closer inspection I noticed the water droplet was oozing out of a very small crack in the fiberglass. So small, in fact, that it would have gone completely unnoticed unless I had been putting pressure on that point. Any dings that are not watertight will ruin your board over time, allowing it to get waterlogged and eventually delaminate. I’m so glad I found it when I did, or I may have never noticed it at all. Unfortunately I don’t know how long it was there, but at least I did find it. Sometimes you won’t know that you got a ding, especially if it’s covered by wax. So I learned my lesson: take the time to re-wax even if it’s just so you can find those hidden dings. In my case, I had left the wax on my longboard since September….that’s 7 months. Time flies when you’re having fun!
7.) Wax it up
If you haven’t found any dings that need attention, then it’s time to wax it back up. This is best done in the shade, out of the direct sun. Apply a basecoat first–this can really help the wax stay on and bead up nicely. Use firm pressure and alternate rail to rail, tip to tail to get those nice, even bumps. Once you’ve got a light base coat, apply the proper temperature wax.
8.) Go surf!
We have a huge wax guide here at Surf Wax 101. However, after re-waxing my board and finding that hidden ding that was obviously letting water in, I decided it was good to remind everyone to check their boards out from time to time. I think with longboards it’s even more important – they’re expensive and people usually want them around for a long time. Also, waxing a longboard from tip to tip is a super pain in the neck so I think people are more apt to put it off.
When stripping wax after you let it heat and soften up in the sun (or however you get it nice and soft) try using a nice piece of fishing line. I’ve used for a long time. 4 to 10lb test works great and doesn’t scratch the board.
You can tie a length between a couple of sticks of wood or 1/2 inch dowel and just pull it thru the softened old wax. I think it is easiest when board is standing upright.
Great idea, I will try this!
Thanks we will have to try the pickle. Hot sunny days are key to removing dirty old wax
Thanks for the tip John. My friends had used the pickle and said good things about it. I wanted to review one for the article but wasn’t able to get one. Maybe I can pick one up this week and review it.
The “pickle” works great as a final step. Once you’re done scraping (and there’s only smugs of old wax left) rub the whole board down with a pickle. It’s like putting kitty liter on an oil stain in your driveway.