Wetsuit Recycle Project #4: Handplane Leash

I STILL use this handy little thing when I take out the Handplane I made a while ago. Enjoy this flashback project that proves I’ve been recycling from da way back, yo.

Originally Posted April 4th, 2012.

***

Since Summer’s in the air, I figured it was time to pull out the poplar wood handplane I made and make some things for it I’ve been meaning to in time for warm water bodysurfing season (with a hope for some hurricane swells!).

I haven’t lost the handplane yet out in the water, but I thought it might be good to have a little insurance. I wanted to make a leash, but nothing too obstructive that would get in the way. Around the house, we had one of these coiled cord keychains.

For back when I had to be Keymaster for a wild night at the Bar. Sucks.

I just needed the coiled cord, so I removed the key ring from the one end and used a pair of tin snips to cut the hook end free from the cord.

I have the rustiest snips ever

Next, I made a wrist strap by cutting off the last 2 inches of an old neoprene wetsuit sleeve.

No sew, ready to go

If you need a bigger cuff, just cut a two inch section higher up the arm. To attach the cuff and leash, I used pieces of kumihimo cord I made before (or you can use paracord), and an overhand knot tied off to one side of the hand hold. I also made a lark’s head around the neoprene cuff to secure it.

No metal on this leash

That’s it! I’m going to leave this leash attached to my board, but I can cut the tie off if I want. A plastic zip tie would work great also, but I just wanted to avoid using any metal that could scratch up the board or get rusty over time.

I wouldn’t expect this to hold in super heavy waves, but then if I get into a super heavy wave and get tossed, I don’t want a square foot of poplar within close proximity to me anyway….

They force dogs to do this competitively in California. That’s puppy abuse right there, yikes-a-rama.

Painting My Surfboard

FLASHBACK POST!

***Originally published on 19th February, 2016.***

Since I can’t ever leave well enough alone, I wanted to paint my new 6’10” funshape surfboard since I haven’t painted one in a while.

The paint pens I used for this project.

This time, I used fine point Montana paint pens, since they were up at Michaels’, and they have the 40% off one item coupon. Not kidding you, I got a lot of my markers one at a time over a couple of weeks so I could use the coupon. Paint markers are pricey. I’ve “heard” Poscas are the best, but they do not take sealant very well if you need to preserve your item (which you do). I used to use Painters’ Paint Pens- they sell them at craft stores and WalMart- but ever since Elmer’s Glue bought them, they’re pretty awful.

Some people will recommend sandpapering the area of the surfboard you want to paint, for it to “stick better”, but I think that’s a quick way to ruin a good paint pen nib, and gives you no way to undo errors cleanly. I just make sure the board is clean, wax, water, and chemical free!

I had a few aquatic photos of seadragons I wanted to try and paint for inspiration. First, I sketched out the main body and the head in pencil so I could get an idea of the overall proportion I wanted.

My sketch of the head. Yikes- I need that mail-order art class


Next, I started filling in with color (I started on the eye in the photo above). These are pump-style markers, so you have to press the nib down to get them to feed more paint, so I keep a scrap of paper nearby to start a new feed of paint.

Scrap paper to start new paint pens


These markers are pretty decent, I did need to go back over the main fields about 3 times to get the really bright colors. To shadow and highlight, I found it was fun to bring Pointillism back! Paint pens are perfect for this, and blending colors is neat-o. Just remember to let the paint completely dry before moving on to the next layer, and DON’T lay it on thick- it should go on kind of marker-like.

Shading and highlighting with dots of paint

Showing off the phat marker collection

Technically, when these markers dry, they’re waterproof. And yes, if you kept a light coat of wax on this (if the painting’s on the deck), and kept it from getting scratched, it MAY not chip off for a while. But it will. And that can be a good thing, especially if you’re concerned about resale.

If you want to lock your creation down, and protect it from sun, sand, and wax comb scrapes, I recommend sealing it- no matter what side you painted.

This is where is gets tricky. A lot of people claim that paint pens bleed badly when you put sealant on them. I think this typically happens when the paint is put on too thickly, or the painter didn’t leave enough time between sealant coats to let it dry. 

To set up for this, I took the surfboard out to the garage with the door open, fan on, with my FILTER MASK and SAFETY GOGGLES ready to don when getting ready to spray (HINT). I taped off the board with Frogtape (painters’ tape) and butchers’ paper to prevent any other areas from getting sprayed.

Covering the areas I didn’t want sprayed


I used a “2 in 1” Rustoleum “Ultra Cover” spray, but I still used 2 light, even coats. I had no problem with running or bleed with the Montana markers.

Pretty decent stuff, you can get it at the hardware store.

Done!


Gee, I hope I like the board. It’s all mine now, like a tattoo on the butt.

Wetsuit Buying Online

Since it’s about that time of year, I thought about reposting a helpful guide to buying your surf wetsuit.

I originally posted this in January, 2014, but I’ve added updated links and more info.

***

Honestly, as much as I want to support my local surf shop, I have a lot of trouble finding a wetsuit that suits my needs and fits well. Even though I’m a woman, I know men have this same problem just as much.
Options are limited a lot of times to one or two brands, and here in Florida, you are given the choice of a spring suit, and possibly a 3/2 mm full suit. This year, I wanted a 4/3 mm full suit since I get cold easier, and the neoprene’s much stretchier anyway than in the past. When I called around to several shops up and down the East coast, I was not helped, but actually insulted by the staff, asking why I would even consider such a suit here in Florida, and did I know ANYTHING about wetsuits?!? Why, yes, I do. And I know I surf for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, so I get chilled easy. So kiss my frosty ass.
I’m so touchy.
Anywho, that’s when I turned to the internets for my future suit. I had an O’Neill suit last year, but I need to consider some things this year:
1. If I upgrade to a substantial design overhaul especially from a completely different brand, the fit may be different. Rip Curl obviously has done this with the E-Bomb, so the fit of the new design may feel different.
2. If the neoprene quality listed has been upgraded to “super-duper ultra stretch”, this may also affect the fit, and even the warmth and durability considerations. Neoprene tech has gone wild, but this can REALLY alter a fit, necessitating a size change from previous seasons.
3. Even if you plan to order online, take a gander at the selection offered at your local surf shops just to get your hand on the neoprene. Kick the tires, so to speak. Give it a stretch, see where the seams are, how they are finished and taped (or not), and look at features up close- even if the suits offered aren’t in your size, or even in your model. Companies tend to keep wetsuit construction pretty consistent over the line- it’s the neoprene quality that improves as well as the taping and lining.

Some helpful hints to ordering a suit online:
Only order from an online shop that has a clear return policy, preferably with free returns, of course.
CHECK THE DAMN SIZE GUIDE. Nobody freakin’ does that, especially men. For your convenience, I’ve procured a list of direct links to Size Guides of the most popular brands of wetsuits. Here’s your happy links to all the Size Guides:

XCEL: https://www.xcelwetsuits.com/media/transfer/img/xcel_size_chart_2.jpg

RIPCURL Men’s and Women’s: http://www.ripcurl.com/product-size-guide.html

O’NEILL Men’s and Women’s: http://au.oneill.com/shop/index.php/size-guide

QUIKSILVER Men’s and Boys’: http://www.quiksilver.com/wetsuit-size

ROXY Women’s and Girls’: http://www.roxy.com/wetsuit-size/

HYPERFLEX Men’s and Women’s: http://hyperflexusa.com/size-chart/

PATGONIA Men’s: http://www.patagonia.com/size-mens-suits.html

BODY GLOVE Men’s, Women’s, Juniors’, and Youth: http://bodyglove.com/wetsuit-size-chart/

Once you’ve found the size guide for your brand, measure yourself with a tape measure at the points indicated on the guide to find your approximate size. If you’re an average dude, your measuring tape is probably in your nightstand. The weight part of the guide is tricky. In my opinion, if you find yourself in a lower weight class, but your measurements are LONGER than indicated (lean/willowy build), it may be best to go with a tighter fit and shorter limb length for better core warmth. Conversely, if you are on the heavier side, and find that your weight class ends up with longer limb measurements (strong/curvy build), keep in mind that you can trim neoprene without worrying about fraying. In fact, most ends of sleeves and legs, you will notice, are just raw edged neoprene. This is my opinion- your fit will be unique, of course.
When you get your order, check the zippers first BEFORE trying it on. That means zip them up AND down at least twice. If the zipper is blocked by tags, remove them- they’re attached by a plastic tab, not a gold lock. The company can reattach it, trust me. If they’ve got an issue with it, that’s ridiculous. You need to at least need to be able to see if the zipper works more than once.
Be courteous to the next guy and have a piece of Velcro handy to cover up the neck tab Velcro (if it’s a back zip) while you put the suit on so you don’t pill and rip up the inside of the suit. Bonus points if you’ve taken a shower, but didn’t put on deodorant yet. Nobody wants your Axe leavins’ in the suit lest you decide to return it. Underpants are a given, I hope.
The suit should feel slightly restrictive, but not uncomfortable at the neck, groin, or shoulder points. Have a seat, stand up, bend over and touch your toes (well, work on that one). If it’s a full suit, the neoprene should reach your wrist bone, and right above your anklebone ideally.
Hopefully it works out, but if not, pack it up- right side out- with all the tags, and fill out the return slip. Send it back and try again, but make sure you’ve carefully measured, and considered what didn’t work about the fit on this one before you order again.
All in all, we live in a lucky time. The early surfers had he pleasure of surfing in wool bathing suits, and when it got cold, switched into army issued stiff SCUBA suits that chafed your tattoos clean off. But don’t let that old complaint keep replaying. I keep hearing kids parroting the elders on this, and this is not sage wisdom being passed down, only unchecked bravado of times past. There is little difference in movement these days for the average surfer in a neoprene suit versus not wearing one. Temperature difference, however, I will concede, will make a performance difference.
Men always complain that women don’t understand shrinkage, so this gentleman has diverted all attention from that area….
HEY! My face is up here you pervert!!!

Upcycled Surfboard Car Rack Pads

Flashback Post!

Originally Posted 1  February 2013.

OK, so I broke down a bought a new car after 11 years and nearly 225,000 miles. It was about time. One requirement was that I had roof racks installed on this vehicle, of course. I had to get the Yakima permanent mount type, so I paid through the nose to get them installed. I at least could save a bit my making by own rack pads to go on the bars so it wouldn’t damage the boards. Ok, like $40 bucks, but hey, better than nothing. I thought a lot about the materials I could use to make the pads out of, and I decided on using an old yoga mat I didn’t use anymore since I got a new one. For the sides, I had some flag fabric, which is essentially heavy duty nylon cloth, used to make those outdoor decorative flags. It can be found at any fabric store, but I already had some in my fabric stash.

First, I measured the width of the bars across. I came up with about 27 inches. I decided to round this down to 26″ for my pads to leave a bit of room. You will have a different measurement depending on your racks.

Next, I took a pool noodle and measured the circumference using a tape measure. I came up with 8 inches. Since I’m going to use Velcro as a closure, I added 1 inch to each end, to make it 10 inches to make an overlap. This made the dimension 26″ by 10″. This is what I cut out twice from the yoga mat for each pad.

img_5939

I was going for pockets on each end of the yoga mat to fit the pool noodle into- therefore, I cut four squares of the flag fabric into 10″ by 10″ squares using a rotary cutter on a cutting surface. The width is the same, but I wanted some space inbetween to fit the pool noodle into.

I then overlocked each edge of both squares using a standard overlock stitch on my machine set at 5.0 width, and 1.0 wide. I used a J foot on my sewing machine, used for overlocking.

Next, I stitched the stitched the squares to each end of the yoga mat, placing the squares ON TOP of the mat. Here’s a diagram of the stitching pattern and the layout on the floor:


When you stitch, keep the edges *just* overlapping- try not to overlap too much. Use a straight stitch and preferably a roller foot to make the pass.

img_5942

When you’ve stitched both squares down, lay the piece down right side up and fold each half toward you.

img_5943
I acquired some blue 3/4″ Velcro from the store to use for this project. Laying it up against the long edge, STAPLE it (no pins, Ma!) along this edge to secure it for sewing. Sew lengthwise along the edge of one side of the Velcro, then sew another line along the other side of the Velcro lengthwise. Here’s a sewing guide for this stage, also:

FLIP the piece to the other side and do the same thing. Don’t forget that the Velcro needs to be on opposite sides since the piece will be wrapping around a cylindrical piece.

Finished!

img_5946

Now, I’ve got to cut the foam noodle. I’m cutting it to 26″ inches. I mark the point with a pen.

For cutting foam of any kind, I use a electric knife like for cutting turkeys. Yep, they work great. They cut though foam like butter and make a mean turkey sandwich (well, when I used to eat meat).

img_5947
I need to cut the foam noodle down the center (but not all the way through, just to the hole in the center). To help keep it straight, I chocked the noodle with a couple of heavy books:

img_5948
Once the noodle was cut lengthwise, it was placed into the yoga mat pocket.With the noodle cut side up, I tucked the flag fabric into the slit.

I did not close the Velcro yet until I got the pads over the rail.

Slip the pads over the rail slit side down and with the fabric tucked in. Close the Velcro around the rails. The nice thing about these pads is that they have a slight sticky quality, which helps to keep the board from moving around.

watermarked-photo-2016-09-18-1406

Spiffy! Now my rail pads match my seat covers. I’m officially a total kook. Here’s to sorta keepin’ it real….kinda.

Deluxe Beach Changing Towel with Hood

Flashback Post!

Originally posted on Friday, March 18th, 2016.

Even though I’ve made a simple one of these beach cover-ups before, I wanted something a bit more substantial. I also wanted one that was a bit wider for getting into and out of my wetsuits easier. Wider. Yikes. I also wanted to put a hood on this one in case the wind is howling in the parking lot when I get out.
So, I procured a couple of big beach towels from the local outlet store. Outlet stores are the best for good towels- they’re as cheap as Walmart, but last longer since they’re made for a department store. Just don’t get picky about what color/print/etc. For the hood, I went to the clearance bin and found a single hand towel with a funky fiesta print.


For this project, instead of sewing down each long side (which is over 5 feet long), I’m going to make the side seams the short edges of the towel. 32 inches will be plenty

image

Tagless, like Jordan’s undies

long enough to cover me, but not so long that it will be difficult to change with.
First thing, I cut off any tags on the towel- I don’t want to take the chance and sew over the extra bulk.

Nautica doesn’t make these cover ups!
Next, I pinned (technically clipped) one of the long sides together with the LOOPY SIDE OF EACH TOWEL FACING OUT, and the groomed, soft sides together,. This seems a little weird, but the loopy side is the most absorbent. The other long side will be the bottom opening of the cover up when we turn it inside out. I pinned/clipped all the way across, but the middle 12 inches I marked off on each side with a yellow butterfly pin to tell me not to sew this part. This section will be the head opening.

For my project, my middle twelve inch opening for my head started about 27 inches from the outer edge.
On a side note- if you are getting into sewing for surfing, I recommend going to your

image

MORE?!? Yes, Please!

library and picking up Sandra Betzina’s More Fabric Savvy. It is a great reference for unusual fabrics, and since we’re not at a freakin’ quilting bee here, it’s VERY useful.
Also, please note that in the sewing pics below I was using a walking foot. A lot of people shy away from these, and I don’t know why. It takes about two seconds more to install than a regular presser foot, and, BOOM! huge difference in the feed of stuff like terrycloth, knits, neoprene, and other non-quilting-craft-cotton. Which leaves the fun stuff to sew. Try one!

So I used the finished edge on the towels as a seam guide. DO NOT try to sew or even fit this bulk of both finished edges under your machine! The needle WILL break, and you may do serious damage to the delicate machinery, or put an eye out, like Santa told you. I used a Heavy Universal needle (at least 90/14 or above) and set the machine for a straight stitch at 3.0 in length.

Remember to not sew all the way across, or you wont leave a head opening! Also, don’t try to sew the far edges together by machine. Either hand sew them together, or leave them as is, like I did. Don’t sew through that gnarly bulk! NOT worth it!

You don’t have to do this part, but I wanted those seam allowances sewn down. I went back and put a simple wide, long, zig-zag stitch down each allowance, stopping at my mark for my “headhole”. Remember, sew the part that’s towel, NOT the finished edge (the finished edge is light blue). Zig-zag down each side- as long as your thread matches, it won’t really show. When I did get to the head opening, I split off one side and turned a seam over that matched the allowance I had been sewing before the split.

Here, you can decide if you want to sew down each short side, leaving the top fold open down at least 12 inches for “sleeves”. Originally, I left mine open on the sides, but I liked it better sewn up the sides.
At this point, I was ready to add my hood. Of course, you will have wanted to have measured your hand towel to make sure this works. For me, the hand towel I bought eased just fine around the 12″ diameter neck. I folded the towel in half, the two pink bound edges together (loopy side OUT), pinning/clipping the top edge together. This top edge is what I’m going to sew, which will be the TOP of the hood.

I’m using the finished narrow edge as a seam guide when sewing.
Once that seam is finished, I pinned/clipped the bottom edge of the hand towel to the neckline of the big towel cover up. Make sure your seam will be on the INSIDE of the cover up once the hood is attached. Make sure you pin/clip A LOT, and SEW SLOWLY. It’s not a race. It’s probably flat out there, that’s why you’re reading this. No rush. Use a long stitch, and go back over it to secure. The bottom of the hood took up almost the entire neckline. Perfect!
Again, I don’t try to sew over the thick ends- leave them open, and save your machine. If the bound ends have enough of an opening, thread a LONG shoestring through them and you can pull the hood a little bit closed (not too much, depending on how thick the binding is). That’s it! With a hood, it’s easier to hang up to dry.

imageIf Star Wars was in an “Alternate Lifestyle” Universe, this is the Obi Wan special. NOT a man bun, thank you very much.

DIY Natural Surf Wax

One of my most popular posts on my old site! Enjoy!

Originally published by me on 15 March 2013 on Blogger.

I’ve kind of surprised myself I haven’t done this craft yet. Making natural (non paraffin/petro) wax is pretty simple, but honestly, the natural wax I’ve bought it the past has been really soft and not very good, so I’ve shied away from trying it myself.
After looking around on the internet for a recipe to try, I noticed a couple of things. First, the natural “organic” wax recipe is almost always comprised of two ingredients: beeswax and coconut oil. Secondly, the ratio is usually two parts beeswax, and one part coconut oil.
Now, I’m no expert, but coconut oil is kind of a runny semi solid. BUT, it’s cheaper in volume than beeswax, which can be quite expensive. This probably why I’ve gotten natural wax that’s so soft- too soft because the ratio was too low due to cost, which I can understand if you’re selling it.
In this case, I’m making it for my own use, so I wanted to make something that works imagefor me, and that would work better for warmer waters, like what’s here in Florida.
First off, I had to think ahead to how I wanted to measure out the 2 ingredients. Beeswax typically comes in a solid bar form. Coconut oil, of course, can be measured out in liquid teaspoon or tablespoon measurements. If I wanted to be able to measure out the beeswax in the same form, I would have to melt it down first, transfer it into a measurement cup, transfer any remainder to a heatproof container that would release the wax later, then transfer the wax from the measurement cup back to the double boiler that I’m melting it in. All this while, I’m hoping that the wax isn’t producing a skin, and that I’m transferring ALL of the wax from container to container to ensure reasonable accuracy.
Whew. What a pain.
Instead, why not use the density of beeswax to calculate the equivalent liquid measurement to the weight in grams, so I can weigh it out while it’s still solid? Better.
I used this website to reference the density of beeswax for my calculation to convert the solid equivalent to a liquid equivalent so I’d have “apples to apples”. I chose a much higher ratio to use for the recipe, and did the ratio as straight up liquid to liquid, not relative densities of the beeswax to coconut oil.
Bored.
Anywho, this is what I came up with for a goodly batch of wax:
     160 grams Beeswax
2 US tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Okay, so here’s the good part…..
I bought a 1 pound block of pure beeswax (I’m doing another project with beeswax, so I bought extra). Online, this cost me $14, but the shipping was free, and I’m going to use around half of it. You can also find beeswax in the candlemaking section of any craft or hobby store. Nope, it ain’t cheap. I also got a jar of coconut oil from the grocery store- I had to ask somebody where it was, it varies. You can also find this at the health food store. That cost about $5, but I’m only using two tablespoons of the jar.

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Using a food scale to measure out the beeswax

To measure out the wax, I used a serrated knife to cut off chunks and weigh them in a food scale.

Using a double boiler pan I got for cheap at Ikea (if I’d have waited, I probably could’ve gotten one at Goodwill), I used a large pot filled with boiling water underneath, and I melted the wax down. Don’t put any water in the upper pan with the wax! I really should have chopped the wax into smaller pieces to help the wax melt a bit faster.

To stir the wax, I used a wooden chopstick, and once the wax had completely melted, I was ready to add the coconut oil. I measured it with a tablespoon measuring spoon and put it directly into the pan.

I stirred just a bit more to ensure the mixture was even and was melted into each other. Then, it was ready to pour. For fun, I used a silicone fish ice cube tray (also an cheap Ikea score) and a couple of aluminum small tart tins.

After only about five minutes, the wax was getting pretty firm in the ice cube tray. The tart tins were taking a little longer.

Just to make sure, I let them set for a good 45 minutes, just to be overly safe. I think they harden up much quicker, really.

You can see that I got a couple of bars and a whole bunch of fish out of it. The fish shapes are actually pretty handy to handle when applying the wax.

I tested the wax on my board and it actually creates pretty good bumps, and works pretty well with some stick to it, much better than the other natural waxes I’ve used in the past. I think this ratio may be a winner. I still admit I like my traditional wax, but it’s kind of neat-o to make your own.
Now I feel compelled to munch on a bag of Goldfish crackers.

Cheap DIY Fin Covers

Project Rewind again! Bringing more of the “best of” Blogger posts over to this new WordPress site. Thanks for your patience with me, and thanks to those checking out the posts. WordPress has been much easier to work with, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my silly surf projects. 👍

I originally published this post on July 22, 2011 (sorry about the pic quality):

I have a bad habit of bumping my delicate, expensive, fiberglass or carbon fins into the wall, car, or some other standing or moving objects (sorry about the cat….) when putting my boards away, resulting in some repair work down the road. Some of my fins came with fin covers, some didn’t. Even the ones that came with the fin are ill-fitting and not really my style. To motivate me to use fin covers more, I decided to make some fun, bright, well fitting covers that will stay on the fin while driving, and will tell me which fin is which easily. This project takes less than 10 minutes on a machine- easy!!
I used foam sheets like they sell in the craft stores, usually in the kid’s crafts section. This project requires sewing, but you can sew them by hand if you don’t have a machine.
imageBasically, I found it was easiest to trace the outline of your fin directly onto a piece of foam with a pencil. Sorry about the quality of the pictures- the light wasn’t working with me today. Trace a line across the base of the fin, but don’t draw it longer than the fin that sticks above your board. That way, you can have the fin cover on while the fin’s in the board. This bottom straight line WILL NOT BE SEWN!!

imageI put another piece of foam underneath, and instead of using pins, I stapled the pieces together a good distance from the edge of the trace line. I stapled upside down so I wouldn’t scratch the heck out of my sewing machine plate as I sewed.

To sew this on a machine, I used regular polyester thread and a stitch length of 4.5. If you make the stitch length too small, the stitching line will create a perforation tear in the foam and you’ll have to start over. I also used a 70/0 universal needle. If you are hand sewing, use a standard embroidery needle with polyester thread and do backstitching (you can find a tutorial here), but have a light hand and space your stitches to avoid foam tearing.

For the machine, you’ll see I used a roller foot, which is a specialty foot, but a teflon foot works just as well on this foam.
I placed my trace line on the left inner edge of the foot and used this as a guide. This ensured that my stitch line was 1/4″ OUTSIDE the trace line- this ensures that the fin cover will come on and off easily. If your fin is supa-thick, use a wider margin.

 

Finished sewing!
After stitching the curved part of the fin cover together, I’m ready to start cutting out my cover. Foam doesn’t ravel, so I don’t need to overlock the edge, but you can if want, just know that the less perforation in the foam, the better.
Start cutting the shape out about 1/4″ outside the stitching line. Cut slowly, and try to keep a continuous cut going (don’t stop and start cutting) to make the edge smooth.
Once the curved edge is cut, I cut the bottom RIGHT ALONG the trace line I originally made. You should now have an opening for your fin!


Erase your trace lines, and that’s it! Put the cover on the fin to ensure a good fit, and that the bottom is not too long. This one came out great.

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The fun thing is you can decorate the cover with Sharpies (SUPER art project for kids!), use contrasting colors for each side, paste foam shapes to the covers, label what imageboards they go with, or label the type and size. I labeled mine at the top for easy organization and color coded them.
The anal retentive surfer…… 🙂
Enjoy!!!