Our first feature on UK craftmanship. The tale of Andy Speight – photos and interview.
SP8BOARDS was established in the UK in early 2013 by Andy Speight. Andy is 47 years old and lives in Leeds, West Yorkshire with his wife and two step children. He is a qualified engineer and for many years worked creating specialist industrial trolleys and platforms. His passion for the outdoors, board sports, skateboarding (since the age of 9) and making boards (for himself and friends) got him thinking about turning his hobby into a profession. When the opportunity for voluntary redundancy came along he took the plunge – SP8BOARDS was born
Do you design and build everything by yourself?
Andy: I currently operate from a workshop built in the basement of my home. I do all the designing, production and drawing myself. I make my own presses which gives me the scope to truly customise the shape and size of my boards. I have assistance on other aspects of the business, such as web maintenance, admin, procuring supplies, packaging, posting and marketing from other family members as required.
SP8BOARDS offer a number of standard decks and designs, for those less sure about what they want. Their best seller is the Turtle pintail but they extend and update their range on a regular basis. However the main focus are custom boards, adjusting size (being 6ft 4, Andy has an appreciation of the need for a longer or wider board) or in the design using specific or just conceptual customer ideas.
Andy combines his engineering skill, knowledge of skateboarding and drawing ability to develop unique and individual boards.They use 9 ply birch for strength, flexibility and local sourcing. For stiffer boards they add fibre glass stringers. They can also adjust concave to your needs. Then they are hand painted and finished with three coats of varnish. All decks come fully gripped with the logo on top unless you want a different design.Andy also provides each deck as a complete or just happily advises on the set up options.
So how do you actually make your decks?
Andy: The process essentially involves rough cutting the size of the board and glueing 3 layers of 4 mm birch ply ( and fibre glass stringers as appropriate) together. The glue is allowed to dry in the appropriate press for at least twenty four hours. This not only ensures it is totally dry but gives the board its conclaves or kicktails. Next, I cut, shape and sand the board before giving it a coat of varnish to seal it. The design is then drawn on freehand. I use Posca pens as they do not bleed, are durable and give good cover. The design is then sealed by two further coats of varnish with fine sanding in between as necessary. Truck holes are drilled and grip tape and logo is applied.
Who is a SP8BOARD for? Everyone. The range encompasses mini-cruisers, trick decks, slide decks, commuters, cruisers, dancers and downhill boards. SP8BOARDS attract everyone, especially those who want something special. They ship around the world too.
Where did you learn your artistic skills, what inspires your drawing?
Andy: I do not have any formal training in art, apart from the odd class, but I have always loved drawing. It is great to be able to combine my engineering skills in producing boards with this hobby. There is no single influence for my designs – I just get inspiration from what I see in the world around me. I love the outdoors, I surf and snowboard as well as skate and I travel a lot. There is always something to see and this translates into my designs. I don't have a particular style either, which is helpful in delivering to clients exactly what they want.
You can find them on Facebook, Instagram and youtube. They also create events and opportunities for people to get together and skate and you are also welcome to try out a SP8BOARD while you are there.
Phone: 07845 908467