DIY: Assemble a Skateboard

By Cain Hernandez
Blog Content Contributor

In light of the 13th annual Jonathan Broderick Memorial Skate Contest that was held a few weeks ago, I thought I would write a blog post informing you how to assemble your very own skateboard. Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a board, it’s never too late to try something new. Without further ado, here is a step by step guide on assembling a skateboard.

What You Will Need

Deck
Trucks
Bearings
Wheels
Grip Tape
Hardware (8 bolts and nuts)
Skate Tool (Optional if you have your own tools)
Screwdriver
Razor (If applying your own grip tape)

Choosing a Deck

Photo by Cain Hernandez.
Decks come in different sizes. You should choose the one that feels most comfortable for you. Photo by Cain Hernandez.

First thing you should consider is the size of deck you will be needing. The standard size is usually 8.00, but you could also go higher or lower than that, depending on how tall or short you are. Your physical size doesn’t really correlate to the deck size you should get, it’s really just what you feel comfortable with. Personally, I skate on a 7.75 but I recommend an 8.00 because it’s pretty much right in the middle and if you don’t like it, you could always purchase a different size.

Applying Grip Tape

Once you have your deck picked out, the next step would be applying the grip tape. I use Grizzly grip tape, but there are other options as well. If you want, you could skip this step and have the employee at your local skate shop do it for you, but I will include instructions anyway.

First remove the paper to reveal the adhesive on the back of the grip tape. Then try to center it over the board and let it fall in the middle. Once you have the tape stuck on the middle you can start smoothing the rest out, working from the middle to the tails of the board. Make sure it lays nice and flat on the board, you don’t want any air bubbles. You can file the edges down with your skate tool to reveal an outline of the board.

After the tape is applied, you will need to take a razor and cut close to the edges of the board, following that outline. Use caution when doing this, and cut away from you. After you remove the excess tape, you can sand down the edges of the board with the left over tape that you just removed. It might not be perfect the first time, but this is a learning experience.

Installing the Trucks

Photo by Cain Hernandez.
Photo by Cain Hernandez.

If you’re not sure of what truck size to get, you can ask your local skate shop employee to recommend a size based on the deck you chose. There are four holes on each end of the deck. Take the bolts from the skate hardware you purchased and push them through each of those holes. You will have to use a little force to get the bolts through the grip tape. Once all eight bolts are through the board, you can go ahead and install the trucks.

Line up the corresponding holes on the baseplate of the trucks with the bolts and place the trucks on the board with the kingpin facing inward (The kingpin is the large bolt in the middle of the truck. Make sure they are both facing the center of your deck.) Then, you can go ahead and tighten the trucks with the nuts that came with your skate hardware. Hold the bolt in place with a screwdriver and tighten the nuts with the skate tool.

Bearings and Wheels

All bearings are the same size, regardless of what wheels you choose. I recommend Andale bearings. When it comes to wheels, I usually opt for a smaller wheel size, around 52mm, since I prefer a lighter weight board. Place the bearing onto the truck followed by the wheel and push down on the wheel hard enough to secure the bearing in place. Make sure the metal side of the bearing is facing outward in the wheel. Then take the wheel off and your bearing should be tightly secured in the wheel. Place a second bearing on the truck and repeat the process on the opposite side of the wheel. For longboards, this process is essentially the same. However, since their wheels are much larger, you will need a spacer in between both bearings.

Install the wheels on the Trucks

Photo by Cain Hernandez.
Photo by Cain Hernandez.

Once you have all the bearings in your wheels, all that’s left is to tighten the wheels. There should have been four nuts that came with your trucks. Use the skate tool to tighten the nuts and secure the wheel; just make sure it isn’t too tight. You are going to want just a tiny bit of leeway. If you overtighten, your wheels are not going to roll. On a side note, you can tighten or loosen your trucks, via the kingpin, with your skate tool or with a wrench. The tighter your trucks are, the stiffer your board will be, which also makes it harder to turn. Loosening them will make it much easier to turn but will also feel harder to handle if you are new to skating. After riding around for a bit, you will start to get a feel for what you prefer.

So, that is it. Support your local skate shop and have fun with your brand new board.

Holly Henrichsen

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