Founder, Waldo Olwage, gave us a brief history and Joe Williams, team rider for Smile Longboards, shared his thoughts after putting a couple of the boards through their paces.
Twenty year old Architecture & Environmental Engineering student, Waldo Olwage, founded Horizon Boards in December 2016 out of a love of woodwork and a desire to do something a little unconventional. Horizon Boards produce longboard decks from solid oak, each individually made with care and precision.
Waldo's love of woodwork began when he was just 10 years old and after his father started his own bespoke furniture business 3 years ago, he began to get more involved. Whilst learning 'on the job' making customised furniture he picked up all the necessary skills as well as an ambition to start making something more unusual.
One summer at the workshop, Waldo and best friend Phil Roberts, got chatting about this shared desire to produce something different and, together with their curiosity in skateboarding, sowed the seeds for Horizon Boards.
Every deck begins life as a rough-cut timber plank which is hand-picked and processed to ensure only the best quality timber is used. Once the oak is in a usable condition it is cut to size to make a “base” using 6 strips of oak, glued together using a unique joining process.
Each board design has its own template which was made from marine plywood and acts as a guide for the router when cutting the deck out. This template is secured to the centre of the oak base and a router is used to cut into the base by 3 - 4mm each time, slowly cutting out the deck.
This technique gives a smooth and precise finish to the sides of each deck. Once the deck is cut, the sharp edges are rounded and the truck mounting points are drilled. The decks are then sanded and finished off with Tung Oil which hardens when exposed to air, giving a transparent and almost wet-looking coat as well as the necessary weatherproof layer. It also brings out the beautiful grain and character of the wood.
The beauty of using hard wood for their decks, says Waldo, is that every single one is different and you get a one-of-a-kind longboard every time. Horizon Boards believe that the level of detail and care put into the production of each deck helps put them ahead of many others.
Thrill Magazine teamed up with Joe Williams, team rider for Smile Longboards and newest Smile recruit Sebastien Aquila to trial the boards, here is Joe's review:
"When the mighty boardsmiths of these lands provide us with something new, our considerations turn to its downhill or flatland abilities: it's pop, it's hot look yet innovation is something that is not often appreciated. Horizon boards, crafted out of European oak, are aptly named for their innovation.
I have mounted oak decks before and the material certainly holds its own properties, properties that usually land them on a wall, but Horizon Boards have really breathed life into the medium. To gaze upon two of the boards - the drop-through Chief and the top-mount Scout - I was extremely impressed by the construction.
To begin, the joints in the ply stand vertically, making the boards bulky and beautiful with the oaks natural grain exposed.
The sound of these vessels is as unique as their look. As we put these boards through some freestyle paces the soft thock against the ground was pleasant and unique. Truly though, the ride of these mighty oak steeds is what took me beyond the horizon.
The first length of smooth land sailing was a wholly fulfilling experience; the more I rode, the more I wanted to ride. The board's bulk and weight help to drive it in a way I have never felt before, whilst still having shape and feel in the subtle contours of the top deck.
Though the freestyle capabilities of the board were somewhat limiting the top-mount Scout provided a great dance platform with counterweight in the body that really was an aid.
The drop-through Chief would be wicked for freeride slide and downhill. I would highly recommend this board, although perhaps not as a primary deck, but good for beginners and a great experience with those who are weathered riders.
I would compare the compositions and elements of other boards to draw some comparison in your minds but there are none that I have ridden that compare to Horizon's very own ride.
Thank you very much for letting us on.
Words: Waldo Olwage and Joe Williams
Edited by: Sabina Edwards
Photos: Waldo Olwage and Sabina Edwards