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LOCAL SURFBOARD SHAPER PROFILE: LARRY MABILE

 

larry-mabile-ghetto-glassing
Larry Mabile glassing a Skip Frye ine his parents old backyard lovingly referred to as Ghetto Glassing – 1982. Photo John Durant

 

A local San Diego shaping icon, Mabile is the picture definition of local-boy does good. Decades of grinding out his following in all countries of the world, Larry Mabile has become one of the most diverse and sought after shapers in the world today. Learning his craft early on as a Surfboard glasser and eventual protege to Skip Frye during the Select Surf Shop era, Mabile has and still is the workhorse for brands like G&S, Xanadu and currently Sharp Eye. On the side he still shapes boards under his own label and splits time between San Diego and his second home on Baja Sur. His boards are featured in the Surf Shed every time he comes back into town. So if you see them on the site or on the floor, dont wait. They will be sold in a matter of days.

 

The following is an excerpt from John Durrant from the Surfers Journal article: The Shaper Series

Inland – far from the bright, sunny beaches where everybody surfs – is another world where surfboards are made. Surfboards are beautiful, clean sculptural objects. Surfboard factories are not. A surfboard factory usually has a small front office with battered furniture. Scattered piles of dog-eared surf magazines sit covered in a fine layer of polyurethane dust. Just down the hall, racks of unshaped foam blanks wait to be roughed out. There will be glassing racks splattered with bright catalyzed resin; bolts of fiberglass will be wall mounted and the air will be heavy with the scent of polyurethane resin. But the heart of the surfboard factory – the heart of surfing itself is the shaping room.

A shaping room is a small, controlled area where a shaper sculpts foam, by hand, into a finished surfboard. The rooms themselves are tiny: usually eighteen feet by seven or eight feet wide. Side lighting is essential so a set of longitudinal florescent fixtures will be wall mounted at waist level. In that respect almost all shaping rooms are the same, but that’s where the similarities end. Shapers are individualists – no two will pick the same wall color or rack height; no two will use the same tools or have the same templates. No two will start or finish a surfboard exactly the same way.

The way surfboards are made is changing. Computer numerated cutting machines are common and now most of the boards you can buy in a surf shop or at the mall are created via digital software or mass-produced in Asia. A small number of die hards continue to shape boards by hand, one at a time, but every year that number dwindles as the overhead and costs of making a board by hand diminishes the profit margin.

-John Durant

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