The Board Blazers Blog

How to Buy a Custom Skateboard Online

You’re all set to buy a skateboard, but not just ANY skateboard. You could run down to a skate shop (heck you could run to Target) and pick up an out-of-the-box board, but this one needs to be unique. Whether you’re investing in a custom board for yourself (go you!) or for someone else, the process can be a little daunting. Are you going to build a board from scratch and assemble it yourself? How do you know you’re getting quality materials? Are you paying too much? Today we’re here to take the guesswork out of buying a custom board online because who doesn’t like shopping from the comfort of your couch?! You have a few options when it comes to buying a custom board, and we’ll outline them for you here. Let’s get started!

Let’s say all you’re looking for is a truly unique board – something nobody else has, and you’re not precious about the design. In this case, the best option might be to head to the home of all things unique and handmade, Etsy. This collection of artisans selling their wares can give you anything from a one of a kind live edge skateboard inlaid with turquoise to your name airbrushed onto a pinewood deck by a true artist. If what you want is unique and off the wall, head to Etsy, search “custom skateboard” and go crazy! Be aware that each seller is different, so know what you’re buying (and lead times) before you purchase. If you choose to go this route, you’ll be sure to have a one of a kind board!

For all other options, you should first be aware of all the customizable parts of a skateboard. You’ll need to choose a deck (the flat wood portion), trucks (effectively the axels that hold the wheels in place), wheels, bearings, additional hardware (risers, etc.), and grip tape (the sandpaper-like top of the board that gives your foot traction). The choices you make will determine the style, price, and usability of the board, so bear that in mind when you’re picking your materials.

By far the most accessible site we’ve found to create your own board is the uber-giant skate shop Zumiez. Here you can choose from 3 tiers of boards (best price, top brands, and premium decks) and customize the whole outfit from there. While the site is easy to use and backed by a large company, it should be noted that this is really just a semi-custom skateboard. You can choose from a myriad of choices, but there is no ability to upload a personal design or provide any sort of feedback outside of their predetermined parameters. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll come away with a great board, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever run into another skater that has your exact setup. But if what you’re looking for is total control over your board and the ability to oversee the design, you won’t find it here. What you do get is thousands of options, a killer selection of brands, the comfort of knowing your purchase is backed by a store that you can visit in person, and a board that is highly superior to anything an average skater can pull out of a box in a store. The pricing is straightforward, and the choices are easy and clear. If you want something different at a reasonable price point, Zumiez has you covered.

Let’s say you’re in the market for a genuinely bespoke board. You have a vision for this skateboard, and you want to make it a reality. Look no further than Warehouse Skateboards. Here you can choose every piece of your board from a selection of literally ANY skateboard parts available for sale online. Once you’ve assembled your parts, they have an excellent step by step video showing you how to put the whole board together yourself. You should note that while assembling a board is totally doable, that you will need to block out a chunk of time to put everything together, and if you’re nervous about that task, perhaps consider the Zumiez or Etsy options outlined above. But if you’re skilled at skateboard assembly or just game for a challenge, then give this option a go!

If you want to up the ante even more, consider checking out CCS (California Cheap Skates). Here you can order a 100% customizable skateboard deck. Got a graphic you created that you want on your skate deck? No problem just upload it. Looking for some rad grip tape? Can do. By creating the art for your skateboard deck, you ensure that no one ever shows up to shred with your gear. Plus, you get to express yourself and show off your design skills; it’s a win-win! Combine your custom CCS board with all the equipment available on Warehouse Skateboard’s website, and you’ll have a completely unique board designed entirely by you!

Whether you’re looking for an off the wall original crafted by an artisan, a unique piece designed and assembled entirely by you, or something in between, now you have all the info you need! So, don’t buy a random, off-the-shelf board, go out and create a custom work of art for yourself or a skater you love! Once you have your sick new board make sure to outfit it with the coolest accessories, Board Blazers LED lights, of course! Instagram that rad new board and tag us @BoardBlazers so we can see what you create!

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How to Clean Your Skateboard's Grip Tape  

How to clean your skateboard's grip tape


What’s one of the best feelings ever? Stepping onto sticky, sturdy, fresh skateboard grip tape.


What lasts maybe two seconds? Sticky, sturdy, fresh skateboard grip tape.


You know the feeling—you step in sand or mud, your grip tape gets slick, and your tricks are doomed. But instead of straight-up peeling off and replacing your grip tape (a fussy and costly process), why not just clean it?


These simple steps will help you get your skateboard or longboard back in shape, and ready for skating within the same day.


What You’ll Need

New grip tape costs about $5 to $10 per board, but removing the old tape and applying new tape can be tedious.

Instead, if your grip tape has gotten a little slippery, start by purchasing:

  1. A piece of natural rubber
  2. A soft wire brush
  3. A microfiber cloth.

In my opinion, these three inexpensive items should be kept in every rider's board bag. They’ll cost about the same as fully replacing the grip tape, and will help extend the life of your skateboard—and your sweet tricks.


What to Expect

This isn’t a magic process—cleaning your grip tape with these methods won’t make it look brand-new. But it WILL:

  • Make your grip tape feel sticky again
  • Keep your grip tape and skateboard (or longboard) intact without causing any harm
  • Save you from the task of replacing the grip tape entirely
  • Make your grip tape last longer

If you do want your board to look brand-new again, consider replacing your grip tape if it's peeling, worn through or very slippery in some areas.


How To Clean Traditional Skateboard Grip Tape (Shortboards)


Step 1. Use Rubber to Remove Surface Crud

Most skate shops sell a piece of rubber known as "Grip Gum," which is an effective way to get surface grime off your grip tape.

Little-known secret--you can get this same type of rubber, but cheaper, at an art supply store. It’s a similar product, usually used to remove rubber cement. Go into a store like Blick Art Materials, ask for "rubber cement pickup," and a store attendant should be able to help you find what you need for no more than a few dollars.

If you need a visual, this is what you're looking for:


Rubber cement pickup helps you cheaply clean your skateboard's grip tape! This little guy is around $2.

(Image from Blick Art Materials

Once you’ve got the piece of rubber in hand, firmly wipe it across all of your grip tape. It should do its job and get rid of dust, dirt, and other unwanted grip tape invaders.


Step 2. Clean Deeper with a Soft Wire Brush

On some websites, you’ll see bad “cleaning advice” where people will tell you to clean your grip tape with window cleaning solution and a toothbrush. DON’T DO THIS. It’s a bad idea for two reasons:


Reason #1: The window cleaning solution will soak through the tape and into your board, making it soft and eventually ruining it.


Reason #2: Most toothbrushes aren’t actually coarse enough to remove deep grime, so the method isn’t even effective.


Don't clean your skateboard's grip tape with window cleaner and a toothbrush! Skateboard grip tape is porous, and it'll soak through into your board.


Instead, what you’ll want to do is hit up your local hardware store and get a soft wire brush—again, for not much more than a few bucks.

Scrub the grip tape in sections with the wire brush (and no cleaning solution!) to bring deeper, below-the-surface grime to the top. Then, get out your trusty piece of rubber again, use it to remove the surface grime, and you're ready to ride.


How To Clean Coarse Longboard Grip Tape

Longboard skateboards are usually outfitted with a thicker, coarse grip tape that is not permeable. This means you can use a window cleaning substance or water to remove the grime—no problem.


Step 1. Scrub the Grip Tape

Start by filling a measuring cup with ½ cup of window cleaner or water. Dip your soft wire brush (from the last section) into the solution, and begin scrubbing the grip tape. Start at one end of the board and work your way to the other end, brushing in small sections to make sure you get rid of all the dirt.


Step 2. Thoroughly Dry The Surface

Use a large microfiber cloth (or several smaller microfiber cloths) to dry the grip tape thoroughly before continuing.

For best drying results, lay the cloth on top of the deck and pat it until it sticks to the grip tape. Don’t try to wipe the cloth along the tape to dry it. Let the cloth sit on the grip tape for three to four hours, or until the tape feels completely, absolutely, 100% dry.


Step 3. Wipe it Clean with Rubber

Really really make sure your board is dry before you give it a once-over with your rubber piece--your Grip Gum or rubber cement remover won't work properly if the grip tape is even a little bit damp. Wait until the grip is entirely dry, and wipe the piece of rubber over the whole thing until all of the grime is cleared away.


Have you successfully restored your grip tape’s solid grip with household cleverness? Let us know in the comments!


Author Bio:

Carmen Fiordirosa works as the marketing director for CleanTools, a manufacturer of household drying and cleaning products. CleanTools’ highly acclaimed drying cloth, “The Absorber,” has been used to dry a variety of home items, along with autos and boats. To date, The Absorber has garnered over 700 5-star reviews on Amazon.


Photo credit: RACINGMIX


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Show Us Your #DECKPIC

Art is probably not the first word you associate with skateboarding; it’s perhaps not even in your top TEN skateboarding words. And while art and skateboarding can seem like polar opposite ends of the spectrum (think stuffy old museums vs. wild and eclectic skate parks), the intersection of art and skateboarding is incredibly rich and vibrant. Street art, like graffiti, has been on the upswing in popularity for its accessibility and relevance to mainstream people. And skateboard photography is gaining traction in more upscale art galleries. But in the coming weeks here at Board Blazers, we are going to focus on the most widely-available avenue to self-expression in skateboarding: the skateboard deck.

In case you’re scratching your head right now, the deck of a skateboard is the flat, typically wooden part of the skateboard that you stand on. And while the top of the deck is often covered in grip tape (see our article on how to clean it here!), the bottom is a huge opportunity for self-expression! Most skateboard decks come branded by their production company, but skaters rarely leave those designs intact. There are infinite ways to customize your skateboard deck ranging from stickers to carvings and paintings, to all out works of art. We’ve got our favorite boards – who doesn’t? But we’ve been dying to see what the rest of the world is cruising on. Which brings us to our latest project…

#DECKPIC Yeah, you see what we did there ;) Ladies and gents we want to see your decks. We know this is where the heart and soul of your skate personality lies. Maybe it’s scraped and scarred from hours of grinding. Maybe it’s painted and pristine because cruising is more your style. Hopefully, it’s rocking your Board Blazers either way! If you follow us on Instagram (@BoardBlazers), and we hope you do, we want you to tag your #deckpic photos so we can see your art and skate style in a whole new way! Just toss the #deckpic hashtag in when you post or story, and we’ll be following along looking for you!

Try following the #deckpic hashtag yourself and see what other members of the Board Blazers skate crew are rolling on! We’ll spend the next weeks reposting what we love, so make sure you #deckpic for a chance to be featured. And let’s take just a minute to say that we like reality over here. We love all things skateboarding, and that includes every board, not only those who have custom or tricked out decks. Whatever board inspires you, whatever board gives you life and freedom through skating – that’s the board we want to see, whether it’s handcrafted or straight out of the box. But if you’ve been looking for an excuse to trick out your deck, or add that newest skate sticker then don’t wait any longer, for sure!

We’ll be showing you some sick vintage and handcrafted decks as well as famous skater’s decks right alongside your #deckpic tags! Whether you're riding a longboard, Pennyboard, or anything in between, it's as easy as flipping your board, snapping a pic and adding #deckpic to your post. We are stoked to see our skate crew’s boards!! Follow us on Instagram @BoardBlazers and show us your #deckpic!

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Philadelphia’s Skateable Sculpture Park (And Other Ways Skaters Have Changed Cities)

Did you know that until the last decade, it was completely illegal to skate in Philadelphia's city parks? But today, Philadelphia is home to a bygone skateboarding mecca (LOVE Park) and a park filled with intentionally skateable sculptures (Paine's Park).

What changed?

When you see a group of kids carving concrete at a skatepark, the phrase "city-transforming potential" might not cross your mind. But those who skate hold enormous power in their hands.

Need proof? Here are 3 specific examples of the transformative effect skaters can have.

1. LOVE Park: From Plaza To Skateboarding Mecca (And Back)

Just as skate videos started to pick up in the early '90s, local skaters took one look at the granite-slab benches in Philadelphia's JFK Plaza and decided they were the perfect place to do some sweet tricks and catch 'em on film, despite the fact that it was totally against the law.

Nicknamed LOVE Park after the iconic Robert Indiana sculpture in the heart of the plaza, this little square quickly became a skateboarding hotbed--particularly once the California skate scene caught wind of the Philly films.

Suddenly, professional skaters were relocating to Philadelphia just to skate in LOVE Park every day. The location even made it into Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2. It was a veritable skateboarding destination.

Then, the city decided to crack down on the sport. In 2002, they spent $1 million to remove the skateable granite benches.

That's not to say that the park went down without a fight. In fact, the founder of the park, Edmund Bacon, got on a skateboard at LOVE Park (at the age of 92!) to protest the loss of the skateboarding legacy. At the time, he reportedly proclaimed, “Thank you! My whole damn life has been worth it, just for this moment!”

Even though they didn’t win this one, skaters turned an unassuming park into a hotbed of debate. 


2. Burnside: From Sketchy Bridge To World-Renowned Skatepark

If skaters essentially "built" LOVE Park into a skating mecca, they upped the ante with Burnside in Portland, OR. Named for its location under Burnside Bridge, a group of dedicated skaters in the '90s literally built the park. With a crew including Mark Hubbard, Mark ‘Red’ Scott and Bret Taylor, these tenacious skaters took on the challenge of rehabbing a "wasteland beneath a road bridge."

Over time, they upgraded from sneaky (and illegal) concrete banks to hardier skating platforms, and eventually got city approval to turn it into a full-blown skate park. Today, Burnside is internationally recognized as one of the most challenging skateparks in the world.

Furthermore, Burnside is also credited with improving the city, in that they displaced the bridge's original seedy crowd, and replaced them with a skatey crowd.


3. Paine's Park: A Space Designed For Skaters

Finally recognizing the tendency of skaters to scope out and take over spaces, architect and skateboarders' rights activist Tony Bracali worked with local skateboarders to design Paine's Park.

Bracali argues that skateboarding improves the life of public places, and this Philadelphia space has plenty of space for skaters and non-skaters to mingle and enjoy themselves. 2.5 miles of landscaping, walkways, and skateable architecture abound.

Aside from the skateable benches, Paine’s Park was also home to a public outdoor-arts exhibition called Open Source: Engaging Audiences in Public Space that featured skateable sculptures by artist Jonathan Monk. And they really are meant for skaters; he insisted that his exhibit wouldn’t be complete until skaters began to actually use his sculptures.


When skaters are practicing their moves, they're not only changing their brains and the local skate scene; they just might be changing the city on a deeper level.

Skaters—what other examples can you share of skateboarders changing a city? Comment below!


Other Sources For Continued Reading 


Photo credit: AI R//Lindsey B//Beth Olson//Johnny Gee Photography//Robert Francis

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