Screw It!

This is the first time I’ve dealt with a problem like this on a surfboard. One of my friends bought an SUP from one of my other friends, and the board was in good condition. However, my friend who bought it wanted to use a different fin in this board. There was the problem. The Philips head screw bolt that held the fin in was just corroded and stripped to the point there was no purchase for a screwdriver to turn it to release in from the nut holding it in the track in the fin box, and the fin was just stuck.

When I tried to use a screwdriver to firmly but carefully take out the screw, the top metal just flaked right off like baklava. Mmmm….

Anywho, I could have gotten a REALLY tiny EZ out bit to drill into the bolt and hope against hope that I didn’t hit the bottom of the fin box and go into the foam of the surfboard! Instead, since the screw head is domed, I made the attempt to cut a groove into the top of it while the screw was still stuck in the fin box.
For this, I used my trusty Dremel tool.

Of course, any rotary tool like that will work. I used a grinding wheel of fiberglass for this job. You can also use a diamond grinding wheel since they have such a thin edge and are good for detailed work (on left!)

Don’t use those wheels they give you in packs of 20 (on right above)- they snap like the cheap wafers they are. Yuck.
To prevent harming the edge of the fin, I made the cut at an angle away from the edge of the fin, and while not moving the the wheel from the groove, I motioned the wheel front and back to open the groove a bit for a flathead screwdriver to fit into.

I stopped from time to time to check the depth of my cut to make sure I wasn’t cutting too far and reaching too close to the top of the fiberglass of the fin.
Once the groove was completed, fresh metal was clearly visible, and it was ready to be used as a groove for my flathead screwdriver. With steady downward pressure, the screw came out easily!

You can see the groove made by the grinder, and the corrosion as well.

Before installing the new fin, I took an extra precaution by applying two coats of a heavy duty wear clear nail polish on the head of the new screw.

There are really clever inventions out there like the Wonderbolt (I don’t get any thing from them, just thought it was neat), that are smart replacements for future situations like this. Might be worth it for the SUP’s, since around here, we take them in the river and ocean, so they might see some different types of corrosion.

On a different note, here’s a recipe I found for an “Ultimate Screwdriver” in case something doesn’t work out above:

Ultimate Screwdriver
3 ounces of Florida Orange Juice
1.5 ounces of Orange flavored Vodka

2 thoughts on “Screw It!

  1. What a clever solution! Way to use your dremmel. I'm curious, how long does the nail polish last? Why not choose a stainless bolt instead? Does Loctite help at all to protect metal components? Lastly – since people are making all kinds of shit out of 3d printing, wouldn't it be wild to secure the fin on with a 3D printed bolt? That is assuming it's strong enough and flexible enough to withstand the shearing forces of the water and action on the board without breaking, shearing, or plastically deforming.


  2. I did replace the bolt with a stainless one. The nail polish works as a cheap solution, but a bit of 5 minute epoxy works even better. Just don't spill it past the bolt area. The bolt that had been in it before wasn't SS, so I'm sure a lot of people don't check theirs and end up with a lost fin. I like the 3D printed solution- I think that's where the industry will be headed. There's a lot of good materials they're working with that should withstand some of the forces. This area would be a good testing ground since out swells are pretty mild. I don't think it will be much longer before home 3D printers will be ubiquitous in homes.
    Great comment! Thanks!


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