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Workshops - Arbo Surfboards

Posted by James Marr on
Arbo Surfboard workshop

Paul runs Arbo Surfboards. You can learn to build your very own custom board. To get in touch visit


What's your name and brief background?

Leonard Paul Reisberg born landlocked in Germany. so, spent my early youth bombing hills on self-build longboards instead of surfing. changed when i had my first taste of surfing with the age of 15 during a student exchange to brittany. spent every holiday and many weekends after that chasing waves in the north sea and the atlantic. living on the british isles since 2008. first in pembrokeshire/wales and after stops in london and bristol in cornwall since 2014. background in traditional and modern wooden boatbuilding but fulltime wooden surfboard maker since 2015.

When did you start Arbo surfboards?

Been dabbling with wooden surfboards before but gave it a name in 2010.

How did it start, and what was your vision?

I started making wooden surfboards because i had a personal interest in woodwork and surfing but never envisioned it would grow the way it did. i offered my first build-your-own wooden surfboard workshop after people i knew from working in the surf industry in the past asked me to run one. at that point no one offered anything like it in the uk and europe so i got request from most corners in europe to run another one. and another one. and so on...

Why do you think it’s important that people build surfboards rather than buying them?

to me sustainability and eco-friendlyness play a role but giving people the opportunity of experiencing the joy of making something with their hands and seeing the whole process start to finish is the most important aspect. it is great when people are making instead of buying things and learn skills that allows them to do so. it's empowering and puts us in a different relationship to the material world that surrounds us. i learned a lot from the DIY spirit of the punk scene and still find stimulus in it.

What’s the hardest part of the build your surfboard workshop?

most of the time we only have three days to get the board built and shaped. that means that i need to make sure that everyone meets the daily targets. as the workshop groups consist of surfers, sometimes landlocked and still weeks away from the next surf it's sometimes hard not too indulge too long in surfchat but actually get stuff done...

How much does a complete workshop cost?

Cost for the workshop is £55 per foot + £375 . Sign ups of 2 or more persons get a discount of 10% on the fee- if one board each is built. it's also possible to build a board as a pair and it will cost the same as if you would build on your own.

not included in the price are finplugs, leash, finnen, lamination.

I always carry fcs fusions (10£/fin) and fcsII ( 12£/fin) and US-boxes 10.5 for single fins (10£). if you glass the board yourself, account 50£-70£ for material. i charge 125£+15£/ft for a glassing service.

How can people book a workshop?

To sign up, i need a deposit of £125 . account details on request, dates are usually published on facebook, instagram and in the newsletter. - sign up at

How long does a workshop take?

It takes 3 day intense sessions in changing locations, we run workshops here in our studio in newquay, cornwall. dates for these are arranged on an individual basis and usually run anywhere between 3 and 10 days. We also offer workshops in Hamburg, Berlin and London

location of the studio workshop in cornwall is:

arbo surfboards,
mount wise pavilion,
mount wise, newquay, TR7 2BP

how does the performance of wooden board compare to fibreglass or other materials?

In terms of surf performance the boards do not feel very different compared to their plastic counterparts. variations in the shape make a larger differenence than variations in the material. we hardly make any high-performance shortboards where lightweight is important. most shapes we do actually can benefit from around 5% extra weight (question is what do you compare with...?) that our boards have. but compared to wooden boards made from western red cedar for example, our paulownia boards are definetly lighter. aprt from that, the wooden boards are robuster and small dings are easy to fix. large dings are hard to get and i've never heard of any our boards getting snapped...!

What do you see in the future for Arbo and what’s the future for surfing?

I try to keep arbo small enough to handle on my own. whenever demand goes higher i cut back on social media presence... seems to keep it at a nice balance. last year i relocated my studio to a quirky building in central newquay and have a bit more space now. the first local dudes and dudettes have started to use the shaping bay for their own shaping projects and material experimentation and exploration beyond wood. i hope that the space gets used for interesting and experimental DIY surfboard, skateboard and craft things in the future. just started making a recycled eps/wood/cork board for my nearly 2 year old son so he can enjoy the cornish waves this summer with me...

surfing in the future will further develop into different surfing subcultures as it already has. crowdfactor will become more important and the development of artificial waves has eliminated nature from the experience. this will allow to do surfing as a sport and will further the commercialisation of this activity called surfing. sustainability will become an important consideration in all elements of outr lives, so surfing will be no exception. new technologies will be developed and at some point in the future the common surfboard will not be made of toxic materials but be a cradle-to-cradle product.

all of that won't change the simple joy of getting carried towards the shore on a pulse of energy moving through water. no matter if its on a hightech surfboard, a simple plywood plank or a naked belly.

Paul runs Arbo Surfboards. You can learn to build your very own custom board. To get in touch visit

e: paulitspaul(a)


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