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

Pocket Fin Adjustment Tool Kit

In my quest to make everything more compact, I wanted to make my fin tool kit as small as possible. For this, I challenged myself to fit everything into a standard travel plastic soap container:

I used a stubby flathead screwdriver to fit in the case, for using with single fin change outs. I also added a standard fin key (small Allen wrench) to the box.

For the nuts and bolts, as well as the fin screws, I used little empty lip gloss containers. They’re perfect for keeping small items, and they’re flat and fit right into the soapbox. 

I also labeled each container to make sure the screws wouldn’t get mixed up.

Additionally, I used my handy label maker to label the kit:

Had to label it, or I’d be disappointed I wouldn’t be smelling Irish spring fresh…..

Surfboard Fin Tower Rack

So I thought a neat project to undertake would be this Futures “Test Ride Center” Fin Tree. It’s normally found in surf shops as a display stand for fin samples. Someone on the local surf forum was interested in buying one of these display racks from a surf shop for his home, for storage and for surf decor. I saw it as a challenge. Eddie Murphy’s comedy routine about his Mom making him a “home” Big Mac ran through my head- “I’ll make you a burger BETTER than McDonald’s!”

The Futures Fin Tree (

So, to start off, I knew I wanted to make this from mostly wood since that’s what I had the tools to work with, and I wanted it to spin like the floor display. The rack needed to have at least three shelves and needed to be tall and narrow like the one in the picture. I also imagined holes drilled around the edge of each shelf to accomodate hooks to hang fins off of. It also needed to have enough room to hold large fins like longboard fins, not just thruster sets.
Here’s an idea of what I had in mind:

I started off buying a precut 11 3/4″ diameter by 3/4″ thick plywood disc at the hardware store. This would serve as my foundation (base). I wanted the shelves to be substantial, but not too thick (because of the hooks), so I traced circles with the base onto 1/2″ thick plywood and cut them out with a jigsaw, making 3 of these.

I needed a lazy susan to turn the stand on, and I totally lucked out when I found a plastic black electrical turntable at Goodwill! These things can hold up to 220 pounds and normally run $15.00, so this was a real find. Honestly, Goodwill is a great place to find lazy susan parts since a lot of people chuck kitchen accessories all the time. An electrical stand is an entirely different matter, though.
Here’s the turntable, shelves, and base:

Now, I needed a riser to mount these shelves on, so I went with an 1 1/4″ diameter pine dowel, like the type used for curtain rods in a closet. I cut it at Home Depot to approximately 5 feet long with their rough hand saw. A drawback with a dowel like this is that it can be somewhat uneven, so mounting shelves could be tricky since the dowel isn’t always round and perfect in diameter.
Next, I needed to drill holes through each of the shelves and base centers’ to accomodate the dowel. I used a 1 3/8″ Forstner drill bit to make a clean hole in each center, just slightly bigger than the dowel, so it can slip over. I LOVE these type of bits for this, they make a nice clean, even edge inside:

To make places to hang hooks off of, I marked off eight holes around the edge of each shelf, evenly spaced apart, about a 1/2″ from the edge. I switched to a 1/4″ bit to make these holes. I then sanded inside each hole with a Dremel sander cone bit to clear the debris out.

Now, here’s the decision point: I could make the shelves static or movable. If I made them static, I could probably epoxy glue them in place and call it good. Problem is, I might need to break it down, and also, it might be nice to adjust the width between the shelves for different sized fins.

To make the shelves removable and adjustable, I ordered rail flanges with a collar that goes all the way around with a hole on the side for a set screw to keep the shelf mounted in one place. The problem with these machined flanges turned out to be that they were just too heavy under their own weight to hold up straight! So, this was a set back. Originally, I had wanted little tension collars around the dowel under each shelf, but it’s just something that couldn’t be bought for a project this size, even after scouring the internet. I turned to my husband, another engineer, for help in designing and fabricating some collars for this project. This is what we came up with:

They’re made from poplar, which cut nicely. The donuts were cut on a specially made jig on a drill press (email if you’ve like more details), were cut in half, and re-screw back together again to fit around the dowel to make a nice tight fit against the dowel, then the shelf fits on top, then is screwed to the collar to secure it. They can be placed anywhere along the dowel shaft, so the shelves can be moved at any distance apart from each other. A fourth collar was placed at the base of the dowel against the base disk, and also screwed into that plate. I epoxyed the base disk onto the turntable.

The next step was to spray paint the dowel and shelves. I used a paint and primer spray paint that worked fairly well. The collars I painted with acrylic paint by hand. Poplar wood sucks up A LOT of paint!

To have some fun, I also decided to use some Chalkboard Spray- it comes in a a spray can- just on the 3 shelf tops. I thought this might help to organize and identify fin sizes, types, etc.

Chalkboard Paint

For safety, I bought a 10 lb disc weight in black that I epoxyed to the bottom of the turntable to, to prevent the piece from easily tipping over. In addition, I glued 8 rubber feet along the outer edge so it wouldn’t scratch the floor.


Lastly, I got some s-hooks to place into the shelf holes to hang fins off of. Here’s the rack finished:

Spin me right round baby, right round!