Our second instalment of Handmade in the UK, this time featuring the upcycled, reclaimed and earth friendly boards by Bash in Bournemouth.
Naomi Jane Photography
The Bash team believe in keeping things simple and surfing the streets the way they did in the 60’s.
Who are the Bash team, how long have you been making boards and how did it all start?
We are made up of myself (Ben) and my fiancée (Tash) hence the name Bash. For now I do most of the shaping and glassing and Tash does the riding. We also have several friends who test out the latest offerings from the shop. For only a year, we’ve been doing this while both having full time jobs and most of that time has been taken up with finding out what doesn’t work.
I can’t remember what pushed me into making these boards as neither of us have grown up with skateboarding. I rode those crappy little polyprop decks when I was kid which were fun at the time but moved into BMX riding. We’ve always been a makers, always finding a way to make stuff for ourselves out of scrap materials. Our house is littered with lighting made from fire extinguishers, shelving made from pallets and all the stuff you see on Pinterest. I think living by the sea in Bournemouth definitely had a large part to play too. You always see people cruising around on Penny boards and longboards down by the beach and I thought I could make one a bit more interesting. My first deck was made from a piece of scrap pine floorboard still with layers of old paint on top. It probably wasn’t the strongest board but it looked RAD and it was old and crusty which I love! That probably kick started it for me.
What is different between skating now and in the 60’s?
I think skating has gone full circle. What started with nailing some roller skate wheels to a bit of timber and cruising down the street with your mates, progressed into the Z- Boys riding emptied out swimming pools in California, to worldwide competitions like the X Games with boards produced in their thousands to meets the growing demand for the sport. Now however there seems to be much more of a focus on riding just like they did back in the day, with an increasing interest in handmade decks built for cruising the streets or riding the ever popular concrete bowl parks. I don’t think this will overtake standard street skating but it does open up the sport to the younger generation and also to the older guys who maybe skated back then and want to give it another crack.
The aim was simple, only use wood salvaged themselves. They are always on the hunt finding old pallets dumped in industrial estates or forgotten timber at the back of reclamation yards. Once the wood is gathered each deck is handmade individually from start to finish in their Bournemouth workshop.
Yes every single deck is made from 100% salvaged wood from stacks of old pallets to torn up shipping crates, instead of being sent to landfill. Retaining the aged look with years of grime and wear but still feeling super smooth, clean and stylish underfoot.
What is the strangest material or object you have ever found on a hunter gatherer session?
The stuff we manage to find when we’re out salvaging is truly astounding, and not just timber. I don’t think there’s any one thing that comes to mind but what is strange is that we live in such a throwaway society. We’ve managed to kit out our workshop with furniture and lighting, not to mention the timber that we stock the shelves with, all from skips and stuff people dump! This isn’t even the crap stuff. It’s all materials that you’d happily pay for at a builder’s merchant or reclamation yard. We did manage to acquire a load of solid oak and beech spiral stair treads from a staircase company recently which were deemed as seconds and unusable, so look out for a range of solid wood cruisers soon.
It is a known fact that the biggest cause of Maple tree deforestation in North America is the production of skateboard decks. A Canadian Maple tree takes 40 to 60 years to mature before it can be cut and used for a skate deck so why are they still being used when there are better options.
Bash think this sucks and want to drive change in the industry.
You clearly appreciate the great outdoors, what has been your best nature experience?
Any time we get out together is a great experience in my book! Getting up super early for a walk along the beach before breakfast or paddle boarding in the sun. That’s what it’s all about! Sometimes you have to slow down a bit and get away from everything, the beach really helps with that.
When did you learn about the negative environmental impacts of skateboard production? Have you always been eco-conscious?
I wouldn’t say that I’ve always been eco-conscious, no, and to be honest it was only after I’d started to make boards from waste timber that I found out how serious the problems are. I had no idea that we cut down so many trees just to make skateboard decks! It’s crazy.
I’ve always had an interest in using salvaged materials to make things from and through doing this, whether it’s furniture or lighting or the boards, it has given me a view into how much we throw stuff away as a society. You’d be amazed at what you can pull from a skip. Every single piece of timber that goes into the boards has been reclaimed and all of the offcuts are saved to be used in smaller projects like bottle openers or handplanes. We even salvage used packaging materials to ship our products in! It seems very rare that we ever have to buy materials for our projects any more.
Their favourite material is OSB ripped from packing boxes. It is made from a sustainably planted small but fast growing species of tree. It also stores a lot of carbon in the panels which makes it highly carbon negative.
They are currently using an eco-polyester resin to laminate their boards which uses 40% industrial waste but are working towards using Super Sap Bio-Resin which has a reduced carbon footprint and replaces the petroleum-based chemicals with bio- based renewable materials. Finally they top off each board with locally sourced beach sand for grip to make a unique and earth-friendly cruiser.
What has been the biggest difficulty you’ve faced?
Finding time is a struggle for sure. Juggling working just in the evenings and weekends, doing trade shows and all this between our full time jobs can be hard especially in the winter months when it’s dark when we get home. Also changing people’s perception of what makes a good skateboard is a challenge. For so many years it’s been the norm to use maple ply for deck building as it’s cheap, strong and easy to source, so as soon as you mention reclaimed timber to anyone they initially think of poor quality and expensive manufacturing costs. It isn’t until they handle and ride the boards that they think otherwise, just getting to that point is hard enough. I’m sure this is a struggle faced by every small board builder trying to do something different.
Sounds like you love doing stuff the hard way, is it worth it?
I wouldn’t say it’s the hard way of doing it but it certainly isn’t the easiest. Inevitably trying to do something a little different will be hard to begin with but hopefully it will get easier as we develop. And yes, it’s totally worth it. Every time we go for a skate, or sell a deck, or someone comments on the boards it gives us a good feeling. What could be better than making something totally unique by hand then going out and using it? I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. Well apart from doing this full time!
With so many companies out there who don’t seem to care about wider implications. What has been the feedback and response to your products?
Generally pretty good. I mean there’s always those people who think that just because the materials are salvaged and technically free, the boards should be super cheap. Well yeah they’re free but it takes quite a lot of work to turn a shipping pallet into a skate deck! For the most part, people seem to be really interested in what we’re doing. You’ve got those who like the boards for what they are, clean looking objects and those who really back what we’re trying to do in an eco-friendly way.
There definitely seems to be a change in the air with regards to the large board manufacturers and the materials they choose to use. Maple will always be around, and there isn’t anything wrong with it as long as it’s managed in a sustainable way but we’ve noticed an increasing number of companies who are switching to things like Bamboo which, among other things, is a grass and grows at a ridiculous rate meaning it can be managed much more sustainably! There’s no reason why all traditional street skate decks, longboards and cruisers couldn’t be made from this awesome material.
So keep an eye out at your local skips and reclamation yards. You might spot Bash diving in and rummaging around for that forgotten wood. No one can deny that making an eco-decision feels good, recycling more, making a packed lunch, eating less meat or locally grown food, buying organic, putting a jumper on instead of the heating and now buying a Bash Board.
Where can I buy a Bash board?
To keep up to date with the Bash story you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Keep your chin up!
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