THE DIGITAL SHAPER
The Zen of Computer Shaping / Taking the plunge into technology
In Zen philosophy perfection is achieved through simplicity and
repetition. CNC shaping, with the use of software and machine, utilizes
simplicity and repetition to achieve that goal.
The use of computer shaping technology is increasing - not only in production shaping, where it is replacing the "ghost shaper," but in the design and shaping of custom surfboards as well. The technology of CNC shaping facilitates many things including accuracy, repetition, and evolution in surfboard design and shaping. Today's computer shapes require significant skills including (1) relevant input to design and create a surfboard, (2) the ability to visualize and translate a design with a keyboard and monitor into a digital file, and (3) significant skill to hand sand the computer pre shape into the final shape. All are part of a master shaper's skill set. Magic and Soul are products of these skills.
Magic and Soul in surfboards are mysterious and elusive qualities, but you know they exist in a surfboard when you experience the special performance of such a magical - soulful surfboard. Machine or CNC shapes by a master shaper totally involved in every nuance of the final shape can indeed have magic and soul.
Shaping great surfboards requires imagination, observation, and skill to translate designs into reality. Master shapers are part scientist, artist, and craftsman. Hand shaping great surfboards takes years to master. Combine the experience of decades of hand shaping with current technology and the results are awesome.
The best surfboards will always be those designed and shaped to best suit the relevant needs of surfers by reputable master shapers with years of experience regardless of the tools they use. There are surfers and shapers who consider computer shaping an evil threat to the shaping trade and surf culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. The computer allows shapers to begin the design process with the same master designs over and over again. From this starting point they can make a variety of adjustments to suit a surfer, or just experiment with new ideas. This starting point - a base master design - simply does not exist without surfboard design software, a database, and a computer shaping machine. Duplicating or even coming close to duplicating a "magic" board by hand has always been a very difficult task - not that a master shaper cannot produce one magic, soulful board after another.
To fully rebut the idea that shaping software and machines require less skill or are a threat to surfboard design, the use of CNC shaping tools allow more time, energy, and thought to go into designing a surfboard. Hand shaping surfboards with planers, grinders, and the other tools of the trade is very physically and mentally demanding. CNC technology allows an abundance of this energy to be focused on design.
Now, more than at any time in the history of shaping surfboards, technology offers surfers the benefit of accelerated design evolution, relevant custom design, and accuracy in the never ending pursuit of perfection.
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