On a recent trip to the Mervin factory (makers of Lib Tech, GNU, and Roxy snowboards) to look at the 2013/2014 gear and learn about how snowboards are made. We had a chance to get our hands dirty and build some boards of our own. One of the cool things about the Mervin factory is that they have a huge focus on being green. All of the glues and resins they use are non-toxic, so we didn’t need to wear masks in the factory. They also use water based inks for both the topsheets and bases. This allows all excess material to be recycled, and used for the sidewalls of the board. All of the waste material is recycled, and the sawdust left over from shaping the cores are even made into compost.
Due to the amount of time we had, we weren’t able to do the full process ourselves, but we did the layup of the board, which was pretty cool. The layup of a board is basically like making a sandwich. You start with the base of the board and add each layer on top of it. We used Lib Tech’s TnT base on this board. The base also has a die-cut graphic (the cut outs from the graphic are used on the next board, so less material is wasted). On top of the base, we applied a layer of resin to bond the sheet of fiberglass to it. On top of that, we added more resin, so the bottom layer of fiberglass would bond to the H-Pop wood core. Prior to snapping the photos, we placed the metal inserts for the bindings into the wood. Each insert is sealed with a small piece of tape so the resin doesn’t get inside, which would clog the binding inserts. We placed more resin on top of the core, and another sheet of fiberglass on top of that. We then added the top sheet, and placed the board in the press. The board cooks in the press at a very hot, super-secret temperature for about 35 minutes. That’s it for the layup process.
Once it’s done, the builders will shave off all excess material outside of the edges of the board. They then drill holes through the topsheet and top layer of fiberglass to expose the inserts. After that, they’ll shave off all of the excess material outside of the steel edges, and around the tip and tail. Since Mervin does not use a full wrap metal edge, this takes some serious craftsmanship to make sure each board has the right tip and tail shape.