Ding Repair

It is inevitable, skim long and hard enough and your board is going to get some dings. Dings are harmless if repaired in a timely matter. However if you don’t fix them they just get worse and worse and will make you board fall apart in short order. In general anytime water can get under the fiberglass and into the foam you have a problem. The water will help deteriorate the foam and the size of the ding will grow. To keep this from happening make sure and repair your board. I will be the first to admit that the easiest and often the cheapest way to do this is to take it to your local surf shop and have them hook you up for $15.00 – $20.00. I probably haven’t deterred you however and you still want to fix it yourself. If this is the case, read on.

Before You Begin

Ding Repair Supply List

Below you will find a list of supplies that you may or may not need for your particular ding repair. Additionally, people on a tight budget may be able to get around using certain things by improvising. You are going to need some materials however. Here is a list of things you should consider using..

Most of the things you see here can be purchased at Shop Mechanic

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Warning: Many of the supplies that are used in board repairs are toxic to humans. I do not claim to know what is and is not safe Read all warning labels on products and understand the risks before using any of them. Proceed at your own risk.

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Resin: There are two basic kinds of resins used to make skimboards, polyester and epoxy. It is very important that you use the same kind of resin in your ding repair that your board is made of. Epoxy doesn’t bond to polyester resin very well and vice versa. Most skimboards are made using polyester resin. However some are made from epoxy so it pays to check before you make any mistakes.

Sandpaper: You want to have at least three different kinds of sandpaper (rough medium and fine grits). You want to have varying grits to that you can sand the repair down flush with the board.

Cloth: You will definitely need some fiberglass. Four ounce cloth is probably best because it is very flexible and you can just layer it for strength. If your board was made using carbon fiber you probably want to use some of it for the repair as well since the dark color will help the repair blend into the board (there is little structural benefit).

Fillers: The purpose of a filler is to give the resin more viscosity so you can shape it as well as providing structural benefits. There are many different kinds of fillers out there. Here are some of the most common.

* Milled Fiber – This is a structural filler that will add strength and thicken up the resin a lot.
* Q-Cells – These are tiny glass spheres which are sometimes referred to as micro balloons. This is a lightweight filler and will not add structural strength. It is usually used to fill small holes and facilitate easy sanding (very hazardous if inhaled).
* Cabosil – This is a thickening agent. It is used to save resin and add some structural support.
* Flox (Ground Cotton) – This is a pretty heavy duty structural filler.

Acetone/Rubbing Alcohol: These will be invaluable for cleaning the repair area and getting non-cured resin off of your hands. (acetone is toxic)

Paper Towels: Your going to need them, trust me.

Cup(s): You gotta have somewhere to put your resin. A large paper cup is one good place.

Tongue Depressor: Used for mixing the resin and the catalyst in the cup as well as smearing thickened (filled) resin into and onto damaged areas.

Squeegee: No, not the kind at the gas station. A squeegee is essentially a rectangular piece of plastic about the size of a flash card. It is used for saturating the cloth with resin. (Can be substituted for with a brush in some cases)

Brush: Also uses for saturating the cloth. It should be about an inch wide and made of horsehair or durable strands that will not melt in resin.

Grinder: This can be an actual tool or an attachment for a drill. It is basically a small sanding disk. It is not necessary for any job but can make life a lot easier.

Dremel Tool: It doesn’t have to be an actual Dremel tool, but something similar. It is used for carving out and cleaning up the repair area. The bit on the tool should be very small, about 1/5 of an inch in diameter. This will allow for more precision. You can often buy attachments for a drill that will do the job. For the poor man a simple drill bit can work if you have a steady hand and lots of patience.

Scissors: Used to cut the cloth and plastic.

Gloves: Protects your hands from resins and acetone. Surgical gloves work best.

Pigments: Ding repairs are white (or black if you use carbon). Colored pigments added to the resin can help make the repair match the color of your board.

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Skimboard Nose Repair

This is an example of a basic ding repair. The techniques used here can be applied to other kinds of dings as well however some modifications may be necessary. This technique will not allow you to repair serious damage where part of the board has been destroyed.

Step #1: Analyze the situation. How bad is the ding? Has the ding weakened the board structurally? This guide is intended to tell you how to fix minor dings only. If the ding is mostly cosmetic, this guide can help you fix it.

Step #2: Make sure you have everything you are going to need before you start. A good way to do this is to read this entire guide carefully before hand and to think out every step ahead of time.

Step #3: Grind out the ding so that the damaged area is completely removed. Generally you do not want to destroy the bottom of the board at all. Instead use a Dremel Tool to carve out damaged foam and fiberglass in the ding area. Don’t get carried away. Just carve out the damaged areas. There should be a nice clean hole when you are done.

Step #4: Sand the affected area. Sand the entire area including the immediately surrounding area. You want to sand all surfaces that will be bonded to.

Step #5: Clean the affected area by blowing off all dust and then wiping it down with acetone or rubbing alcohol.

Step #6: Cut your fiberglass. Always make your cuts at a 45 degree angle to the weave. This will help the cloth keep from falling apart in your hands later on. Make sure the size of your patches are large enough to cover the entire affected area and some of the surrounding area. When in doubt, cut them too large rather than too small. You want to cut four pieces of cloth if you are using lightweight (4oz or 6oz) cloth. If you are using carbon fiber cut one patch of carbon and three of fiberglass.

Step #7: Mix your resin and catalyst together using the ratio required for your specific resin. Stir thoroughly. You won’t need very much resin. 1/3 cup will almost always be enough.

Step #8: Add your filler(s) to the resin. There is no exact rule but generally you want to use one lightweight filler and one structural filler in your mix. One common combination is to use cabosil and milled fiber at a ratio of 3:1 (more cabosil). Add in a small amount of each and stir it all in, then add more if necessary. The goal is to get it to the consistency of peanut butter.

Resin

Step #9: Take the thickened resin and get a good blob of it on the end of your tongue depressor. Smear the resin into the void you grinded out earlier. If it is a particularly bad ding such as the one pictured above you may have to rebuild the nose a little bit with the thickened resin. This can be a very hard thing to do. Make sure your resin is thick enough and have some patience. It may take some time to get it just right.

Step #10: Depending on how damaged the nose is you may want to stop at this point and let the filler cure. This allows you to reshape the nose before applying the fiberglass. If the damage is minor however, you can do it all in one step. Go back and get your fiberglass. Mix another cup of resin (partial cup). Brush some resin onto the affected area to help the fiberglass stick. Lay the edge of the cloth on the top of the board and work downwards making sure that the glass makes contact with the board in all places. For minor dings you do not have to wrap the cloth around on to the bottom of the board. You can just leave it hanging downward and then trim the bottom with scissors (while wet) or grind/sand it off (if cured). If you are using carbon fiber, make sure that it is on the bottom (touching the board), otherwise you will just sand it off. This is often the hardest step. Have patience and you will get it right.

Step #11: Let the resin cure. This can take anywhere from a couple of hours to 2 days depending on the temperature and the kind of resin you are using. Heat makes most resins cure quicker so you may want to put it in the sun. Wait till it is fully cured to sand it. It will make your life easier.

Step #12: If you have a grinder or grinder attachment use it to carefully sand down the repaired area so that it is almost flush with the board. Do not sand too far because you will go right through the board and into the foam! If you do not have a grinder you are going to have to do a fair amount of hand sanding. Get out your rough grit paper and start moving.

Step #13: Sand “the rest” of the way by hand using rough then medium and finally fine grits. When you are done the surface should be “baby soft”.

Step #14: If you did a carbon repair you can make it look prettier by waxing the board so that it all looks the same. An even easier way is to smear surf wax on the ding repair and let it melt in the sun. After it has fully melted you can wipe it off with a paper towel. This usually makes it look much better.

Note: This is actually the quick way to do this repair. When you have to rebuild the shape of the nose the best way to do it would be to add another step. You would want to let the resin cure after smearing the resin into the void and rebuilding the shape of the nose. After the resin cured you could sand the exact shape you wanted out of the resin. Then you would be ready to lay the fiberglass on top and proceed as above.