Craft Time With Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards

Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards Collector Edition Tricks Photo Cred: Keith Sheppard

Before kids were glued to their phones in class, it was all about fingerboards.  In the early 2000s, every kid had one, not just the skaters, and they were the fidget spinner of our generation.  Needless to say, jumping on this project was nostalgic and intriguing.

I was approached by an artisan fingerboard maker Keith Sheppard, fellow Etsy shop owner, to help with some of his fingerboard graphics.  Keith operates BottomUpIndieFB with his son, as sort of a passion project and learning experience for the two of them.  Creating fingerboards was a way to engage his son on a craft that would pique his interest.  Being a skater myself, no doubt I wanted to get involved.

Where Mattmade Steps in

The tricky part about getting images onto these lil boards is that there are several ways to do it, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. So I took a crack in my activity room.

My guidelines were that I needed to:

  • Create full-colour prints that show well on wood
  • Ensure the print layer was relatively thin
  • Resemble a full-size skateboard deck graphic as much as possible

Aside from hitting CTRL+P, I had to figure out the best possible method to get decent quality images onto lil pieces of wood. It’s not something you can easily run through a printer and the set up on screen printing is a bit extensive for short runs. Luckily for us, I have the ability to create high-quality prints onto a variety of materials (including wood). With enough trial and error, I was able to successfully reproduce BottomUpIndieFB‘s provided files onto small sheets of maple veneer.

Printed Graphics on Maple Ply

Ready for Deck Pressing

After I finish the graphics on the maple veneer, I send those back to BottomUpIndieFB so he can press them into the final product. These fingerboards are made very much like full-size skateboard decks with several sheets of maple veneer. These sheets fit into a mould, and then they’re shaped into proper decks.

Following that, the decks are cleaned up and varnished for a premium finish. This process takes days as the glue and varnish need to dry throughout the process.

The finished product is incredible. At some angles, they actually look like real skateboards with maple vaneer layers and all.

Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards Tricks Decks. Photo Cred: Keith Sheppard
Bottom Up Indie Fingerboards Stack of Tricks Decks. Photo Cred: Keith Sheppard

I don’t know much about the niche world of premium fingerboards, however, it’s much bigger than I thought! There are makers of fingerboards, miniature trucks and wheels, etc. around the world and each has its own following of “fingerboarders” that play, compete & collect these incredibly detailed miniature skateboards. I’m just stoked that I was able to get involved in a Mattmade kinda way.

For more info on Bottom Up, hit ’em up on Facebook, Instagram or Etsy!