Balsa Gold Coast

Posted in: News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on April 26, 2016 | No Comments

This is the new sub site for Balsa Gold Coast.

Balsa Gold Coast has been established to supply quality balsa logs specifically for the

surfboard industry. The factory, at Unit 3 / 10 Pacific Ave, Miami on the GoldCoast

in Queensland, carries harder to get, longer lengths up to 3 meters suitable for longboards,

stringers and bigwave surfboards, as well as 2.5 meter lengths for other surfboard sizes.

Our quality, lightweight balsa is square on all 4 faces, kiln dried, twist, pith and knot free with

no pin holes from borers. For that next special Balsa project think Balsa Gold Coast.

Balsa Surfboard-4

Balsa Gun-Surfboard

Balsa Gun Blank

Balsa construction methods can vary dramatically, here are some basic techniques.

Scarfing – (the traditional way)
Individual logs are trimmed to rocker template then the underneath section is then

scarfed onto the deck to achieve rocker (not to scale – for illustration purposes only)


Individual logs are bent to rocker template Internal supports give the required thickness
(not to scale – for illustration purposes only)


Individual logs with scarfed section on top of the  nose have sections cut away from inside.

Rounded corners reduce internal splitting. (not to scale – for illustration purposes only)


How to bend balsa
Quite frequently in building with balsawood we need to bend balsa into a curved surface.

For curves with fairly large radiuses this can be done without any problem. When it comes to

convincing balsa to bend around curves (such as surfboard rockers) balsa has to be assisted into

making these curves without crimping or snapping. The reason why we choose to bend balsa around

such curves is for a couple of reasons;

Strength – Balsa is strongest when the grain runs the length of the wood.
Finish – Sanding with the grain produces a smoother surface.
Economy – It’s cheaper to make a surfboard out of a strip of balsa than
to use up a much thicker piece of balsa and discarding the bulk of it.
The available methods of getting balsa to bend more can
be broken down into the following sections:
Laminating – One Sided Moisture / Heat – Long Soak
With all bending operations it’s suggested that you start out
with the most flexible piece of balsa that you can obtain,
typically this is referred to as A-Grain balsa.
Stage 1 – Getting the wood flexible
The process of using laminating to make balsa curve is based
on the principle that a thinner sheet of balsa can be curved
at a tighter radius. Using the laminating process can be a
fairly tedious one but it does produce an appealing (to some)
visual appearance. Laminating produces the strongest but
also heaviest resulting form.

One Sided Moisture / Heat
If you take a sheet or strip of balsa and dampen one side
you’ll see that in a few seconds that the balsa starts to curve
away from the dampened side. Conversely, if you apply a
hot iron to the sheet of balsa, the balsa will curve towards
the heated side. The reason why this occurs in both cases
is due to a difference in moisture content in the balsa wood
cells. The more moisture in the cell the more it expands.
In the damp application the damp side of the balsa expands
causing the sheet to curve away. With the iron application
the moisture is being driven out of the balsa cells on that
side to contract and causing the balsa to curl in.

Long Soak
You can soak the balsa in hot/warm warm water for an hour
or more (depending on the thickness). The heat is useful to
accelerate the absorption of the water into the cell structure.
Stage 2 – Setting the Shape
Once you’ve made your balsa flexible you can commence to
shape it to your needs. For simple curves, you can simply
apply the wood to the formers or suitable shape holder and
tape / hold the balsa to the required shape and allow to dry.
Even if you’re using the framework itself to form the curve,
do not attempt to glue the balsa at this stage. Wet balsa
and glue do not work together. Wait until the balsa is
completely dry. Be forewarned that this sometimes can take
a day or longer depending on the outside temperature and
the thickness of the wood. When you remove the balsa from
its former or shape holder, you’ll notice that it tends to spring
back a little bit, that is okay, it’s normal.

You can now glue your balsa.

Condensed from an article by Paul L Daniels.


The terms hardwood and softwood don’t relate to the weight or density of the wood, but to the tree type.

Hardwood trees are angiosperms (mostly deciduous in the northern hemisphere but evergreens in the southern hemisphere).

 It is the softest commercial hardwood. The trees are harvested after 6 to 10 years of growth.

The name balsa comes from the Portuguese word for “raft”. Native to southern Brazil and Mexico,

but now found in many other countries including Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

It grows extremely rapidly, up to 90 ft (30 m) in 10-15 years. The speed of growth accounts for the

lightness of the wood; balsa wood has a lower density than cork and is 20-30% less dense than

Paulownia. Balsa is very soft and light, with a coarse, open grain.

The light weight of the wood derives from the fact that the tree has large cells that contain water.

After the water is driven off in an extended drying process (kiln dried for two weeks),

the large surface area of the resulting holes gives strength yet keeps the density of the wood low.

Surfboards made from balsa have a smoother feel through the water due to the texture of the wood.

The extra weight, compared to foam, is advantageous creating momentum such as riding larger, windier waves.

Yesterday – An exhibition at V.S.T.R Byron Bay

Posted in: Art, News, Projects, Surfboard, surfing, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on December 21, 2012 | No Comments

John Mantle, Rusty Miller and Richard Harvey, three directions, one passion, surfing. Through the golden era of the 60’s and 70’s, they shaped, photographed and painted to record their lifestyle through a special time. Yesterday is an exhibition celebrating their different directions. Rusty’s photography, capturing the moods of the 1960’s and 70’s in Hawaii and Australia and now his images are morphed into Turning Point, Rusty’s first book. John has been a part of the surfboard manufacturing industry world wide, working with many notable shapers and surfers and is now focusing his energies on classic Hawaiian timber surfboards and single fins. Richard has a small studio on the Gold Coast and spends his time shaping, painting and teaching the lost art of handcrafting surfboards. We are sure you will enjoy the work of these three surfers who truly lived the golden era that was Yesterday. The evening was opened by the inimitable Dave Rastovitch. 

Photo Jeff Dawson





Many thanks to Harry Henderson and the guys at V.S.T.R for their help with setting up the exhibition, much appreciated.




A Hot Curl timber surfboard

Posted in: News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on | No Comments

Came across this beautiful piece of Silky Oak timber early this month. It was cut and milled in North Queensland  by Don Taylor from a 100 year old tree and has been curing after that for about 30 years. Absolutely amazing grain, with the golden colour finally revealed after it was finished. The board that I shaped from this solid piece was a 7’10″ x 19″ x 2″ solid Hot Curl timber surfboard replica. It has a slight concave deck, rolled bottom running into a deep tail vee. The Hot Curl surfboard, developed around the mid 1930′s, was named because the board allowed the surfer to maneouver into the ‘curl’ of the wave.

These are the process photos.

Steve securing the valuable cargo

What Have I go myself into, only an hour and a half to go, wonder how the elbow will feel in the morning.

One side of the planshape cut.

Lots of brown dust.

Beautiful grain of the Silky Oak

Rough shaped

The finished product

 Think that it could be displayed with the off cut, still working on how.

The board is for sale and can be viewed at my studio. POA

Wooden Surfboard Day at Currumbin

Posted in: Art, News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on August 8, 2012 | No Comments

Grant Newby has been organizing both the Fish Fry and the Wooden Surfboard Day for a few years now.

This year there were boards coming from a wood working angle and boards from shapers and everything in between.

My favorites were a beautiful board from Paul Joske, built from a paulownia tree that he planted the seed about 10 years ago and a Hot Curl replica, shaped by Old mate John Mantle, built from the beer vats of the old demolished Reschs Brewery in Sydney

Also had a few of my boards and art pieces on show.

Decided to take some boards that were a combination of timber work added to foam.

Great day, great event.

Venturi Effect

Posted in: News, Projects, Surfboard by Richard Harvey on January 14, 2012 | No Comments

An interesting idea presented to be built. A short board 5’6″ with a planing hull and then added nose length to 7′ plus rolled bottom with high rails. Then covered deck channels funneling air down through tubes in the centre deck and through to the bottom. The water running along the bottom pulls the air through and aerates the channels on the bottom creating lift. Fin support plates in multiple positions allow for a wide variety of position and effects for his Wave Fin patented design. Little glass side wings following the planshape at the wide point add even more bite and lift. Took a bit of discussion and planning but the result has nice lines and looks functional. Pics show the whole story.





Alaia Blanks now in stock

Posted in: News, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on | No Comments

Now have a bunch of paulownia Alaia blanks. Australian first grade quality at 25mm thick, rough sawn, 2.1 mtrs long 48 cms wide. Can glue up with cedar stringers if required. Call for more info.

Something different

Posted in: Harvey, News, Projects by Richard Harvey on November 2, 2010 | No Comments

Always wanting to do something different, so thought I would throw my hat in the ring to do some acting.

Have joined an agency on the Gold Coast and set up all the necessary contacts.

Waiting for that part where they want a greying, surfer / artist to play the part on an isolated tropical island. Might be waiting a while for that one.

Signed with Gael McDonald at Williams Talent Agency if you come across someone who may be interested. Profile is on AT2.

Timber Alaia

Posted in: Art, News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on July 4, 2010 | No Comments

A reversible timber Alaia with removable timber fin, stained with a deep burgundy.

Due to the high / low rail design this board can be surfed upside down and back the front.

Remove the fin for the true Alaia slide.

6’9″ x 18″ Paulownia. On display at the studio at Miami.

Also have some Paulownia blanks available if you want to shape your own Alaia.

Fish Fry Interview

Posted in: Fish, News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on June 24, 2010 | No Comments

Recently published clip on You Tube with an interview by Grant Newby at the Currumbin Fish Fry.

The easy way to find it is to Type in Richard Harvey Fish Fry in your You Tube search.

Balsa Rail Quad Fish

Posted in: News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on May 27, 2010 | No Comments

The beginning and the end result of a beautiful soulful quad fish. 5’9″ x 20 1/2″ x 2 5/8″

Balsa rails, light concave vee and removable fin system.

First one sold after 3 days on the gallery floor. Next one same dimensions, different logos. Available in solid balsa with cedar stringers.