Wood & Finish


My choice of wood for LONGSHIPDESIGN is American yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Yellow poplar is an Eastern U.S. hardwood.  Because it is a fast growing species, it is considered a sustainably harvested product.  It is an excellent timber for shaping since it typically is straight-grain and is relatively knot-free.  The wood has a high strength-to-weight ratio but, is softer than most hardwoods.  This softness makes it easy to machine and work with hand tools.

Its uses have been recorded for many years; early American settlers used the wood to make log cabins and Native Americans used the trunk of the tree for their dugout canoes.  Historically, the inner bark of the root and trunk, along with the leaves, have been used medicinally in ointments and teas.

The flower of the tree is a honey producer in the Southern USA and is well regarded for baking purposes.  All of these characteristics make yellow poplar the perfect starting material for LONGSIPDESIGN.


The base for the finish is linseed oil which comes from the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) which produces the flax seed or linseed.  The oil is produced by crushing or milling the seed.

The finish is a two-part process, that starts by applying a mix of boiled linseed oil/gum…turpentine/pine…tar/dryer once a day for a week and allowing to cure.  The second application is just boiled linseed oil and is again applied once a day for a week and then allowed to dry.  This process can take up to four weeks for complete curing depending on the ambient temperature.  Once the curing is complete, the wood can be used in the water.


To extend the life of your LONGSHIPDESIGN board I recommend a scheduled conditioning.  This application is just a traditional wood conditioning technique using oil; rub it on the wood and let it soak into the grain for 20 minutes to an hour; remove any excess.  I recommend using boiled linseed oil and choosing a conditioning schedule that is proportional to the amount of time you spend in the ocean.   If you use your board daily, give it an oil rub-down more often. If you use it on occasion, the below recipe could be done more sparingly, say once every six months to a year.  Here is a good conditioning schedule to follow:

Oil….once a day for a week…once a week for a month…once a month for a year…once a year for a lifetime.

If done right the board will begin to have a nice “vinyl”  feeling to the touch and will look good for a lifetime.  Keep in mind, these products are intended to be treated like fine wood furniture and in this case because of their marine application, on par with wood boats.

Because no tree is the same, each piece of wood is unique and therefore contains a memory of its origin.  Therefore, two identically finished shaped boards can require two different shaping approaches and modified curing techniques.  Another important thing to note, all wood naturally  expands and contracts. The larger and thinner the plan shape is, the greater chance for a board to cup.  While this dynamic is normal and rarely noticeable, every once in awhile, a board can warp and not regain its original shape. Interestingly, I have found that most of the time these shapes surf the same or even better.  Under normal circumstances most boards will return to their original shape once they are out of the sun and water.  Although this action can continue to happen over time the integrity of the board will remain intact.  LONGSHIPDESIGN belly boards are not glassed just oiled, and there is never any breakdown between the wood and finish.  The liveliness of the natural wood finish gives the board a true life of its own.