Written by: Emma Castillo
Event Santa Cruz had the chance to speak with Martijn Stiphout about the craft of wood shaping and environmentally conscious surfboard making. Here’s what the co-owner of Ventana Surfboards and Supplies had to say:
How did your company Ventana Surfboards come about?
I started off with a business partner in 2011 as Ventana Surf Co. I had been laid off from my previous job as captain/chief mate of a research sailboat in Monterey in 2010, during which time I’d built a few hollow wooden surfboards for myself. Not wanting to get a normal job, I figured I’d give wooden surfboards a shot since I enjoyed building and surfing them so much. My first partnership ended in 2012, due to issues between my partner and myself. I continued on my own for another year and a half until I met David. He had a vision of building up a responsible surf company based on craftsmanship, responsibility, and adventure. Our visions aligned and our skill sets are very complimentary, making it the ideal situation for both of us. So, we partnered up and formed Ventana Surfboards and Supplies, launching in December of 2014.
Where did you get your start working with wood?
Well, I was born in South Africa, and was always surrounded by people working with wood and other media, mostly out of necessity. My father did a lot of woodworking back then, and it always stuck. We moved to Germany when I was five, and those are my earliest memories of actually whittling and making things with wood. Rather than buy toys, we made a lot of our own. It never stopped…
Had you had experience in shaping traditional foam core surfboards before moving to creating wooden boards? What inspired you to shape wooden boards?
I’ve never shaped foam, but I’d done enough ding repairs to know that it wasn’t something I wanted to get involved with. It’s a nasty substance, whereas wood is an incredible substance to work with. I started building my first wooden board because of necessity. I broke my last foam board and couldn’t afford a new one, so I made a trip to the lumberyard and started researching online. I had also been teaching conservation education on the sailboat and really wanted to reduce my impact on the environment. That’s how the first board came about.
Ventana boards are created mainly from recycled materials, what materials specifically do you use? What kind of wood?
I try to use as much reclaimed lumber as I can. I like using local materials the most, meaning redwood ends up in most of my boards. It is widely available as reclaimed lumber and a joy to work with. I also use exotic woods, but ONLY if it is reclaimed in some way. The partnership with Santa Cruz Guitar Company is a great example. I would never buy exotic lumber to use, but since we capture their waste, I have access to all kinds of good stuff. It teaches you to be creative and make the most out of what’s available.
What is your creative process for making each board? How long does each project take?
Unless the customer specifies, I let the wood do the talking. I’ll figure out the shape and look at a pile of wood I can use, and go from there. Reclaimed materials are often all kinds of lengths and sizes, so that determines what’s possible.
How does the wood feel different than foam while out in the water?
Amazing. Wood boards carry more momentum, cut through chop, and are incredibly fast. They also feel more alive. It’s a really hard feeling to describe, you really have to try one to see for yourself.
Martijn also makes specialized wax comb business cards. This batch was for the owner of Event Santa Cruz, Matthew Swinnerton and we think these may be the coolest business cards out there… check out how he makes them!
Step 1: Re-sawing of scrap wood/ guitar neck offcuts from SCGC
Step 2: Thickness sanding of the wood blanks for the business cards
Step 3: Preparing computer files for the laser cutter
Step 4: Populating the template for 50 business cards in the laser
Step 5: Laser engraving the logo
Step 6: Engraving finished, ready for bevel sanding
Step 7: Sanding the bevel on the business cards