In Summer 2018, during the reconstruction of the Pismo Beach Pier, old wooden planks from the original pier were put up for sale. Aerospace engineering junior Malachi Edland did not want to put these good resources to waste. Already having an old foam surfboard at home, Edland decided to upcycle the board using those wood planks.

“They were literally throwing them away,” Edland said. “It was cool because when I went, I got one of the last ones.” 

The old pier was constructed in the 1920s and refurbished in the 1980s, making it decades old. Edland bought two 10-foot long planks of wood and strapped them to the top of his car.

Wood that was once walked on by thousands of tourists and locals will now be walked on by just Edland in the form of a longboard — and he said he plans to surf it right next to the new pier.

The first time Edland went surfing was at Pismo Beach on a foam surfboard with encouragement from his friends. While school and work can be overwhelming for Edland, he still makes time to get in the water.

“It’s always nice because you feel like you’re improving every time,” Edland said.

Video by Emily Merten

Over winter break, Edland decided to put his plan into action and set up a workspace in his bedroom. He spends his downtime shaping and gluing the individual pieces of wood. This will be the first board Edland has made, and he has spent hours researching the best techniques for the smoothest ride.

“It is pretty calculated,” Edland said. “It’s not like I’m using some random glue. I’ve looked at a lot of articles on building surfboards. There’s all these things that you wouldn’t think about that much.” 

By making his own board, Edland is allowed freedom to show off his creativity. With a budget of around $900, Edland believes what he will gain will exceed the monetary cost.

“I think getting experience out of something is worth so much more,” Edland said. “I could go out and buy a surfboard if I wanted to, but that’s not really the point, so much as kind of making something myself.”

This surfboard is not the first of Edland’s creations. His passion for construction has allowed him to build many pieces in his bedroom and customize them to his liking. This includes his desk, a shelf that fits his computer perfectly and even his own bed frame — which has a television attached to it.

When asked why someone should bother with the investment of making a board rather than buying one, Edland said there is a lot more thrill in using something you have made yourself.

“You could go out and buy something and know that someone engineered it in a great way, but I didn’t come here to buy things other people made,” Edland said. “I came to Cal Poly to make stuff. When I go out in the industry, sure it’d be great if I learn from Cal Poly what plane to buy or what space company to trust — but at the end of the day, what I came here to do is to go make those things.” 

Though the process has been long and tedious, Edland said he loves every minute. He often sets up items to glue before class, work and sleep, constantly making slow and steady progress toward his long term goal of completion.

“It’s really a gratifying experience even for how much of a mess I made in my apartment,” Edland said. “People complain about work all the time like it’s a bad thing. Even with my major, people will talk about school like it’s something you have to get through. Honestly, it’s one of the best times in our lives. If there’s ever a time I was going to make a surfboard and go ride it, it would be here at this school.”

Most professional surfboard shapers calculate every inch and ridge for the best maximum performance. But Edland’s main goal is simply for his board to float.

“I really wanted it to be something I could do myself,” Edland said. “That’s the cool thing about it. Even if it’s not going to be perfect, I did it all on my own. As long as it doesn’t sink.”


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