Skateboards are made from hard maple wood that, generally, comes from the Great Lakes region of North America. The cold and wet air of the region causes short growing seasons, leading to tall trees with a high density. The wood from these trees is very impact resistant and therefore perfect for you hucking down some big sets. The average tree that is used for the production of a skateboard is 60 to 80 years old. Only the 6 to 25 feet of the bottom of these 100 foot trees is of the correct quality required to make a skateboard. The rest of the tree is used for furniture and hardwood floors.
The heavy harvest machinery to cut down trees can only be used when the ground is solid, otherwise, it could sink. That means that during the snowmelt of spring and the rainy season of the fall, they can´t be used. Because of this, lots of planning and correspondence with the wood shops is necessary, because miscalculations could result in a potential worldwide skateboard shortage.
The logs are sent to a veneer mill where they are stored for up to 3 months. During this time, the logs are constantly watered to keep them from drying out and cracking. Before being cut, the logs are soaked in hot water for 24 hours in order to soften up the pores of the wood. Once they reach about 50% moisture, the logs are spun against a knife at a high speed. The resulting veneers are then cut, dried and sent off to the wood shop. About 10% of a skateboard deck’s weight is water. Think about that the next time you are skating on a hot day and get thirsty. If a board dries out, it gets brittle and is prone to chipping. Is it getting wet, it gets heavier and is losing its pop.
Wood is an organic material, breathing moisture in and out. Because of this, leaving your board in the trunk of the car is not a good idea. If it’s getting really hot, the wood will heat up and that reduces its moisture. Thus the board will change its shape and feel. Also, boards left at sunny windows or in front of heaters or fans are in danger of drying out and might break quicker.
The time it takes for a board from being cut down in the forest to be sold in a skateshop is anywhere between 3 to 6 months. The average 7 ply board has wood from 3 to 5 trees in it.
A pro-model from a legit company cost about the same for ages, let’s say like for the last 30 years. ($40-$60) During that time, hard maple has tripled in cost. This means, the profit margin in selling a skateboard is about a third smaller than it used to be. A good thing to note when purchasing your next deck from the local skateshop.
The reason skateboards are still made of wood is mainly the price. If using other high-tech material, the price would quickly rise to a price no consumer would be willing to pay!