A full season of riding can put a lot of stress on your snowboard. Never Summer makes its snowboards to ensure you get months of fun, whether you take it easy with some ollies or you put your board under a lot of pressure with constant 50/50 grinds.
Before you spend your hard-earned money on your next—or first!—snowboard, learn how Never Summer makes its boards. Over 40 major steps are involved in making a Never Summer snowboard and as many hands touch each board we make. They’re truly handmade. The manufacturing process and extensive testing make it obvious that a Never Summer snowboard will serve you season after season.
Never Summer’s Process for Making the Most Durable Snowboards
Never Summer uses the following steps to build snowboards made in the USA.
Step 1: Making a Core Block From Sustainable Wood
Never Summer starts each snowboard build by making a core block that forms the center of the board. Never Summer chooses fast-growing trees to make its core blocks. Your snowboard is a sustainable option because its core block contains wood from paulownia, poplar, and beech trees. Some core blocks also contain bamboo, this reduces the weight of that particular model.
A local service custom mills core blocks to match Never Summer’s specifications for each snowboard. Outsourcing this part of snowboard manufacturing to an expert helps Never Summer get the wood core it needs and frees up workshop space for building snowboards by hand. However, on specialty boards, like our splitboards, we take an existing core block and modify it in our woodshop. Cutting and placing harder woods in the unique mounting areas of a splitboard.
Having our own woodshop allows Never Summer the ability to not only customize wood cores, but also to make the tooling necessary to make snowboards, like sidecut templates and mold sets. After cutting the sidecut radius and shaping the cores, Never Summer employees attach an Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) to the sidewall and lets it dry for 24 hours before cutting the blocks into six to eight individual cores.
Step 2: Drilling and Tapering Snowboard Cores
Each Never Summer snowboard has a unique design that makes it perfect for certain uses and athletes. Tim Canaday, the owner of Never Summer, designs the taper or thickness of each core to capture the flex pattern needed for that particular model/size…for every single board. That way, the in-house woodshop can cut every core to unique standards.
After creating individual wood cores, Never Summer drills the binding mounting holes and uses a programmable wide sander that gives each board the perfect amount of flex.
At this point, the snowboard’s core has the right tapering. The nose and tail shapes are then cut out.
Step 3: Preparing Other Materials for the Snowboard
Obviously, snowboards are made from materials other than just wood. After shaping the snowboard’s core, the in-house builders prepare all of the other materials, including:
- Rubber that absorbs vibrations
- Fiberglass that give the board snap, spring and durability
- Carbon Fiber that enhances the flex and performance of a board
- Plastic and rubber that seals and protects the core
Step 4: Assembling the Snowboard’s Base
A member of the Never Summer team die-cuts and assembles graphics for the board. The process involves several steps, such as:
- Stamping or die-cutting each color of the board’s logo (Typically we flip-flop base colors to not waste polyethylene and keep it out of landfills)
- Assembling the colored pieces on a vacuum table
- Installing the logo pieces on the board
- Cutting UHMW or P-Tex into the right shape for the board’s base
- Metal edge is then pre-bent using a programmable edge bender, a technician hand bends the edge to the boards tip/tail and then attaches the edge to the UHMW base
Step 5: Cassette Prep
In the snowboard-building world, a cassette is a precision-machined form made of aluminum. The base goes inside the cassette. A fast-tack adhesive connects the base to the cassette. This cassette holds the base and wood core in place when the board is being pressed.
Step 6: Building and Pressing the Snowboard Together
This step is like making a complex sandwich. The snowboard builders add multiple layers of materials to the base to give it the solid, flexible design that makes snowboarding so much fun.
The layers involve wood core, top-sheet and base, elastomeric rubber, biaxial fiberglass, epoxy, carbon stringers, pretensioned fiberglass, and other materials. The board builder hand lays these materials while spreading epoxy or glue between each layer. Think of the graphic sublimated top-sheet material and the die-cut base as the bread and then the wood core as the meat. In between all of these materials are fiberglass, rubber, carbon etc. These materials are then pressed or sandwiched together at roughly 180 degrees for 18-19 minutes. The glue is heat activated and cures or hardens in this time, not only pressing the materials together, but adding the nose and tail upturn or kicks into the board. The board is then inspected and set in a cooling rack to complete its curing process before performing the rest of the finishing steps.
A lot of research and development went into choosing the perfect materials for this step. Never Summer has been building handmade snowboards in Denver since 1991, so it has ample experience contributing to making the perfect snowboard for how you ride. In addition to several snowboard profiles, Never Summer uses a long list of carefully chosen materials to make a snowboard that will serve you for years.
Step 7: Finishing and Testing the Snowboard
Never Summer recovers as much material as possible to keep its shop sustainable. Inevitably, some boards will have excess material hanging over an edge. This is cut out by hand with a Ban Saw and using the metal edge as a guide. The top is then sanded and smoothed out. Magnetic inserts or binding mounting threads are then located and drilled out. Plus, a lot of glue gets left behind. Someone removes unnecessary materials and glue with a grinder off the base and metal edge. The board is then factory tuned going through a series of course to a fine 220 grit sanding belt. Capped off with a roll on all temperature One Ball hot wax and scotch brit buff. It’s a meticulous process that results in a smooth surface, razor sharp and smooth edges that looks and feels amazing!
Never Summer uses a 20-point inspection before sending any snowboard out of the shop. Each board must earn an A before the company sells it.Want to see how well the inspection works? Watch this video of a forklift bending a Never Summer snowboard nearly in half. The board doesn’t even start to break.
Step 8: Graphic Dye Sublimation
This can be seen as the first step or last, depending on how you’re looking at it. The snowboard needs an extra layer of protection over the wood core but also something to make the board exciting and different. Graphics get added to the co-extruded polymer topsheet by printing water-based inks and using a clay-based paper and fitting it to the top-sheet material made of a waterproof, weather-resistant polymer thermoplastic. The polymer top and transfer paper get put into a hydraulic press that combined with heat and pressure sublimates the graphics into the thermoplastic.
Finally, a Never Summer print/sublimation specialist wraps the top-sheet in protective tape to prevent scratches.
Choosing the Right Never Summer Board for You
The snowboard manufacturing process differs slightly depending on what type of board you prefer. Knowing how snowboards are made should help you choose the right design for how you ride.
Learn how to choose a snowboard by knowing:
- What type of board you need
- The right shape and flex for your style
- A good length and width for your body
The more you know about your snowboarding options, the more fun you will have learning new tricks on the slopes. Find the perfect board and take advantage of every snowboarding season!