13 January 2009

Projects

After borrowing some clothes and not really doing much, we got our luggage back about a week after we got here. As promised, they delivered everything right to our front door. Everything was in good shape; nothing was missing and nothing was broken, apart from a wheel that had fallen off one of my suitcases. No big deal, though. It was a pretty old and well-traveled suitcase, and I'm surprised it lasted this long.

I've always liked building things. Growing up, I spent every summer in a huge workshop at my grandparents' place, building all kinds of stuff and learning how to work with both wood and metal. During the 2,5 years I worked in Canada, I had no tools and no space where to work, so I couldn't build anything. It was actually one of the things I missed the most. So now that I'm back in Sweden, with access to a modest amount of tools and at least some space to work on, I got right back into it. I decided to build a longboard of my own. I read a bunch about it online and watched a crapload of videos on youtube of people who build their own boards with quite varying results. It seemed more than doable, so I got to it.

First, I got a nice sheet of 3 mm birch plywood and a bottle of wood glue. I made a plan and a template on paper, cut the plywood into 8 pieces and glued 4 layers together. Then I traced the template onto the plywood and cut and sanded out the final shape. I decided to make a drop-thru deck, which means that the metal trucks that hold the wheels go through a hole in the deck and are mounted with screws to the top of the deck, as opposed to a deck that is mounted on top of the trucks. A lower deck makes the ride more stable. The board is not that much lower on a drop-thru deck, but even an inch makes a difference.

Since I didn't really know how durable the birch plywood is, I decided to remove as little wood as possible for the hole, so I designed a template for a hole that will do just that and fit the trucks I have very snugly. The drawback is that I probably can't use any other trucks on this board than Randal 180's, but since those are good trucks, it's not really a problem. Besides, this is just a prototype anyway.

After cutting out the holes for the trucks, I attached the trucks and wheels so I could try getting on the board. Since I had no real idea about how durable the plywood is, I wanted to try standing on it to see if it'll hold my weight, or if it'll break right away. No sense in spending lots of hours finishing the board and making it look pretty, just to have it snap like a twig when I step on it. So holding on to the kitchen table for support, I very carefully stepped onto the board. It didn't break. Ok, so far so good. I carefully bounced on it a bit. It still didn't break, so I finally jumped up and down on it. No problem at all. The board is nice and flexy, actually quite perfect for my weight of 82 kg. It bends, but shows no sign of breaking. Excellent. Then to finish it. I sanded the surface and sprayed it with a clear lacquer, then spray painted two metallic black stripes on the back, and hand painted a logo on it. I decided to call the board "Pyry proto". Pyry is a finnish word that means "blizzard". There was actually a blizzard here when I started making it. Proto is just short for prototype. After a few more layers of clear lacquer, the board is all finished, and I must say I'm a bit proud of the result. I put some black and yellow grip tape on the top, and the board looks quite good, if I may say so myself. Now, if only the solid layer of ice that covers the streets here would melt so I could go out and try it for real...

For any longboard geeks out there: The deck is 120 cm long, has Randal RII 180 trucks and Abec 11 83mm 75a Flywheels.

Apart from making the board, it has been a couple of very nice and relaxing weeks of vacation at my parents place here in Sweden. Me and my fiancée Gin have thought a bit about what we're going to do next. The plan was to go to England and find something interesting to do there, but we came to the conclusion that staying in Sweden might be an option too. Gin has been studying Swedish while we've been here, and is actually advancing very quickly with it. I have no doubt it wouldn't take her long to be completely fluent at it, so finding a job in Sweden wouldn't be a problem for her. I guess we'll just have to look around and see where we find something interesting. To be honest, we haven't really been looking all that seriously for the last couple of weeks. It has been quite nice to just relax for a while. I had some vacation from work twice while I was in Canada, but both times I was completely swampted with stuff I had to get done, so it wasn't really vacation. I came back to work more tired than when I left.

We had a couple of interviews and offers for jobs earlier, but they seem to have flaked out. This one lady from a company in the UK wrote me and wanted a phone interview. We set up a time for it, but when the time came, she just didn't call and I heard nothing more from her. If that is the extent of their level of organization and courtesy I think I'd rather not work for that company, so I didn't pursue it any further either.

Maybe I should start making longboards? That could be quite fun... :)

The longboard I bought for christmas still hasn't arrived. It's been in the mail from Canada to Sweden for almost a month now. It's kinda funny that it took less time for me to build a new board from scratch than for a finished board to travel across the Atlantic.