SF State alumnus hopes to sand up success
April 27, 2008 7:09 PM
At the end of the N-Judah line, just off 47th Avenue, James Mitchell can be found most days enveloped by the scrapping of a power sander shaping his custom surfboards in the garage of his Outer Sunset home.
Mitchell, 23, is a SF State alumnus with a degree in economics and began his small business Las Olas Surfboards after doing ding repair on friends surfboards for extra cash. He decided the next logical step was to try making it his day job.
“It’s kind of funny it all started with a power sander and I started going crazy with it and just I figured I try and make a board and I gave it a shot and it came out all right so I kept doing it,“ Mitchell said.
Mitchell was 19-years-old when he first took up surfing, and has grown to see surfing as art of individual self expression, not about mass produced commercial boards.
“Surfing was always supposed to be about going out and having fun and when these big companies come in and start big contests and everybody sees the board that pros are riding or sees the cloths that these pros are wearing and they want to be like that. An keeping surfing and surfboards independent let’s people think for themselves and kinda be who they are as opposed to fitting into some mold,” Mitchell said.
To create a surfboard Mitchell starts with a blank and draws the outline into it and cut away the foam that is not needed.
“If I am making it for someone else I like to know what they are looking for what kind of waves they like, how good they are, and what kind of style of surfing that they like all determine the outline and the shape. You look at the blank and try and see the board in it,” he said.
Mitchell spends about four to five hours shaping each board that he makes and another six hours to coat the board with a glassing. Las Olas Surfboards sell for $350 for under 6ft and $450 6ft and above.
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