The Skateboard

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Skateboarders and surfers might not immediately strike one as being kin. The former inhabit urban environments, while the latter ride the wild ocean waves. But skateboarding was born out of Californian surfers’ desire to ride a board whatever the weather – by attaching wheels from roller skates to pieces of wood, they could ride year-round – and today the best skateboards are still, like surfboards, hand-crafted from wood. This natural material is partly popular, says Texas-based maker Jake Eshelman, because skaters still take inspiration from 1960s pioneers “who would make boards in their garages, using planks and their dad’s power tools, in a way that was rather beautiful and naive”. Eshelman’s Side Project Skateboards are made from found hardwoods that are not endangered, the most popular being cherry maple and walnut. Some boards, inlaid with strips, might contain up to 35 different pieces, on to which are added American-made ball bearings, Seismic wheels and Chromexcel leather. The end product, he says, “is in a bracket somewhere between functional art and design”.