You likely have broken skateboards if you love skateboarding. The good news is that many artists creatively reuse skateboards to make awesome stuff. And if you are into woodworking, this episode might inspire you to source your material from the skate park.
You can listen to my podcast episode about the creative reuse of skateboards in this YouTube video. It originally aired in April 2019.
Helpful Skateboard Vocabulary
Deck – Flat-ish part of the skateboard, made of glue and wood (usually maple), but some decks incorporate aluminum and fiberglass. The deck is made from a series of layers or veneers coated with glue and then shaped into the skateboard design. These veneers are often multi-colored so when you cut into the deck, you get a rainbow effect. Just like a rainbow, skateboards are made from seven layers.
Grip tape – On top of the deck is grip tape which is like sandpaper and provides traction for the skateboarder’s shoes.
Trucks – Metal parts that attach the deck to the wheels
Wheels – usually made from polyurethane, a synthetic rubber polymer.
How to Deconstruct Skateboards & Prep Them for Reuse
Artists Who Creatively Reuse Skateboards
Haroshi – One of his recent sculptures was a huge hand giving the middle finger. He also makes little abstract humanoid sculptures called Guzo. The colorful layers of veneer in the skateboard really accentuate the curves in his sculptures.
Martinus and Adrian Pool from AdrianMartinus are brothers located in Canada who make bowls cut on a wood lathe. To make the bowls, they glue together a stack of skateboard decks into a big cube. The lathe spins that cube at top speeds and the brothers use a very sharp tool to shape the bowl. They also make this awesome coffee table which curves down, and they make mosaic art from diamond shapes.
John Gibson from 2nd Shot – John cuts skateboards into incredibly tiny pieces to make itsy bitsy mosaics small enough to be a watch face.
Nick Pourfard from Prisma Guitars specializes in making electric guitars from recycled skateboards. When he started, it would take him six months to make a guitar. Now he can make one in a day. One of the reasons I love Nick’s work is because he talks about how the skater puts energy into the skateboard, and then that energy is transferred into the guitar, and then the musicians feel that energy when they play the guitar.
Inge Guzyte cuts up skateboards and puts the pieces together to make portraits. Some are realistic portraits and others look like cartoon characters.
Jason Podlaski from Deckstool makes stools from recycled skateboards. He also makes wall panels or tiles that feature the distinctive urban art found on skateboards. Sometimes the tiles are squares or rectangles. Other times they are made from the rounded toe or heel of the skateboards and layer like fish scales. He designed something called the Skate Hook which looks like half a skateboard with a piece the folds out and forms a hook for your coat.
Lindsay Jo Holmes from MapleXO makes jewelry such as earrings, bangles and necklaces from recycled skateboards. Now MapleXO is offering earrings made from sliced skateboard wheels.
Dave Bachinsky from ShapeThree makes canoe paddles, bar-b-que skewers and cribbage boards. He gives back to his skateboarding community in Lowell, Massachusetts by building out the local skate park. He goes there to pick up broken boards to make more stuff.
Home Projects to Creatively Reuse Skateboards
Shelves – skateboard shelf tutorial from Jenna Burger, video below by Rachel Metz
Skateboards Made from Recycled Materials
George Rocha from Iris Skateboards makes skateboards from recycled skateboards. His skateboards were featured on the show “How It’s Made.”
While most skateboards rely on grip tape to provide traction, Iris Skateboards instead apply a layer of crushed recycled glass in the epoxy. That way, you can still see the beautiful colors of the wood veneer layers through the glass. George also makes surfboards from recycled skateboards and a recycled foam core.
The Bucket Board is a project by artist Mac Premo and skateboard maker Don Sanford to make skateboards from plastic buckets they found in the trash. This project figured out how to make it work and then they give the skateboards to kids who wouldn’t normally be able to afford a skateboard. They make the boards from recycled plastic buckets and people donate $100 per skateboard for the trucks, wheels, grip tape and helmets. Then they give out the boards.
Bureo makes skateboard decks from recycled fishing nets gathered from fishing communities in Chile. The deck is called the Minnow. The deck is sold with wheels made from 30 percent recycled vegetable oil and 100 percent recycled cores. This company also sells a version of the game Jenga made from recycled fishing nets.
Grow Anthology makes longboards from recycled paper combined with a resin to make it waterproof. They plant a tree for every longboard sold.