Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Get a Grip

Sk8terdude's latest board is starting to chip at the tail, and since he's heading to sleepaway camp for the next month, I figured he might need a replacement board.  But the cost of new boards is getting prohibitive, so I finally went ahead and ordered a bunch of blank decks online in order to save some money.

The decks (buy five, get one free) arrived today.  We ordered medium concave 7-ply Canadian maple American-made boards.  I don't know how to tell if these are really 7-ply or Canadian or made in the USA, but I guess I'll take their word for it.

At first glance, Sk8terdude seemed to like the feel of the board and the cut.  He thinks he will get a lot of "pop" with the medium concave.

Of course, wearing socks and olleying on the carpet might not be the best test...

Although the decks can be ordered with grip tape, we decided we would wait and have them gripped once they arrived.  For those of you unfamiliar with skateboarding, the grip tape is the sandpaper-like surface that is added to the deck so that skaters' feet don't slip when they are skating.

At some point, every skater needs to learn to put his/her own grip tape on a board, but since the process includes using a razor to cut the excess tape off the sides, I haven't been anxious to let Sk8terdude do it himself.  (We are already experts at broken bones....I don't really want to add stitches to our repertoire - particularly when he's supposed to leave for camp in a few days.)
But at some point every skating parent needs to let go.  So despite my concern, and with a nod to Free Range Parenting, I decided it was time to give it a try.  And since it was already late in the day, we drove to the nearest skate shop.  New Canaan/Ridgefield Ski and Sport recently moved their Ridgefield store to the former Rugged Bear building on Route 7.  I purchased the grip tape and asked if they would supervise Sk8terdude while he put the grip tape on the board.

We purchased Jessup grip tape, which is sold in individual strips.  After peeling away the backing to expose the adhesive, Sk8terdude positioned the tape onto the deck.  He came close to needing a you can see in this photo, the tape is positioned all the way up against one edge.  (Usually people center the deck under the tape.)  Fortunately, he got the tape just far enough that it was okay.

He smoothed down the tape, releasing all the air bubbles, and proceeded to the next step:  running the shaft of a screwdriver all the way around the edge of the board in order to crease the grip tape where it would need to be trimmed.

This process was harder than it sounds. Sk8terdude needed to apply a lot of pressure on the screwdriver to get the crease and to break through the grip tape.  Once that was done, it was time for the cutting.  Now I have to say that in all the times I've seen this done, every person in every skate shop has used a razor blade.  Free range or not, a razor blade sounded like a bad idea to me.  So out of my bag I pulled the box cutter.  [What?  Doesn't everyone carry a box cutter???  Okay.  I admit I brought the box cutter with me, figuring that it would be safer for him to use - since it has a handle - than a regular razor blade.]  Ken (the guy who was helping us at the shop) showed Sk8terdude how to hold down the board with one hand and slice through the grip tape with the other.  There were two women working in the shop.  Clearly both moms themselves, they said out loud what I was shouting in my head:  "CUT AWAY FROM YOUR BODY!"  Apparently, that isn't so easy when cutting grip tape, and since Ken is lefthanded and Sk8terdude is righthanded, the demonstration was a little complicated, too!

They worked together:

And then Sk8terdude finished on his own:

No stitches...  I'd call that a success!

Is he too young for a box cutter???  I'm still not certain.  I did end the day with a stern reminder that despite his success, he still does NOT have my permission to use the box cutter without adult supervision.

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