In Hawaii, our vacation home host works at a surfboard manufacturing shop. I was curious about the trade, so I took my son and daughter-in-law inside the shop to see if we could get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes (rather, behind the rows and rows of colorful boards found in shops on every corner on the North Shore!) process of surfboard making. May as well since we were already there! Though many people surf in Los Angeles, I think it would be harder to just walk in the back door of a random surfboard place and “demand” a tour.

The white (often colored) boards we usually see are made out of polyurethane or polystyrene foam. Balsa and other light woods are also commonly used, only they are much more expensive than the foam boards. The shape and size of the board is sanded down to resemble what looks exactly like a surfboard carved out of fancy styrofoam or wood. Much care is taken in measuring the shapes, sizes, and weights of the boards. Then layers of fiberglass, cloth, paint (for designs), and resins are applied to form the complete product. We saw some beautiful boards, including a custom-made decorative one made out of several different hardwoods.

Being a dentist, I couldn’t help but compare the similarities in this process, and the restoration process used in CEREC system, which I have and definitely use. When a tooth needs restoration, the CEREC system records a digital image of the tooth’s structure, and within a matter of hours, carves out a perfect crown/filling out of a small block of ceramic inside a special machine (many demonstrations of this were held at the ADA Session). The faulty tooth is sanded down ever so slightly, and then, after some refining, fitting, and adjusting of the occlusion, the crown/filling is bonded or cemented right where it needs to be, fitting perfectly with the other teeth. It’s quite amazing.


Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

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