Welcome to part 3 of our beginner’s guide to skateboarding.
If you’ve read part 2 of our guide, there’s a good chance you’ve got all the basics of skateboarding down.
You’ll be able to do things like:
- Do some basic tricks
Once you get to this stage, you’ll have played around with truck setups and possibly your mate’s board. That’s going to give you an idea of what kind of setup you want in the future.
If nothing else, we all like to feel like we’ve got something that’s unique to us. And, building a custom complete board is going to give you exactly that.
But, how do you build your own skateboard and what do you need?
We’re about to cover:
- The parts you need
- The tools you need
- How to put it all together
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What Parts Do You Need To Build A Complete Custom Skateboard?
Although this list is EVERYTHING you need, remember you might have some decent parts you can salvage from your old setup.
There’s little point buying new parts for the sake of it.
#1 – Skateboard Deck
The first, and probably most important thing you’re going to need, is a suitable deck.
For a quality deck, you should expect to pay anywhere in the $40 to $80 range.
And, if you’ve already started looking, you’ll have seen dozens of brands offering them for sale.
Our advice? Stick to the top brands. They’re going to offer the durability, flex and therefore pop, that you need.
But which are the top brands?
- Element Skateboards
- Birdhouse Skateboards
- Girl Skateboards
- Toy Machine
- Real Skateboards
- Zoo York
- Santa Cruz Skateboards
We’ve created a guide to the best skateboard decks for pop, street skating and beginners here. So, you can head there, and choose a deck that’s specific to where and what you skate, whether that’s park, street, or vert.
#2 – Grip Tape
Even with the perfect custom board, it’s likely you’ll struggle if the grip tape you’re using is sub-par.
Like the tonnes of deck brands on offer, the same goes for grip tape. For around $10, you’ll be able to get grip tape that’s high quality. It depends on the exact grip tape you choose, but anything above $20 is pricey.
In that $10-20 range, you’ll be able to get a quality product from skate brands like Jessop’s.
Note: If you’re planning to purchase a new deck, check whether it includes grip tape. Some deck brands offer the likes of Jessop’s grip tape with a deck purchase.
#3 – Trucks
Next on your shortlist, is a set of quality skateboard trucks. If you’re looking for the best, you’ll want to budget somewhere in the region of $30-45.
Like decks and grip tape, you’re going to get confused, with a tonne of different brands on offer.
Here’s our top brand list for skateboard trucks:
Each brand offers models suited to different skating scenarios.
Ride park? Skate street? Hitting the vert? Need something lightweight? Whatever you ride, or whatever you’re after from your setup, there’s a set of skateboard trucks to suit.
We’ve written up a detailed guide on skateboard trucks here.
As you’ll see from that guide, a good all-rounder if your building your own skateboard, are the Independent Stage 11 trucks.
#4 – Hardware
Building a skateboard isn’t cheap. Luckily, your bank balance has already took the biggest hits with your trucks and deck purchases. You’ll need less than $10 for your hardware, and that’s going to bolt everything together.
There ARE companies offering cheap hardware for custom skateboards. Our advice? There’s little point trying to save a few bucks here.
Skateboard hardware is ALREADY cheap. You might save a few bills by bolting it all together with cheap hardware, but it’s unlikely to last.
Hardware kits for your new custom board, come in a set of 8 (nuts and bolts). 4 for the front trucks and 4 for the rear.
We like Independent for trucks and again, Independent do a good set of hardware for like $6-7.
At the low end, you can get decent hardware for $5. Regardless of the brand you choose, you shouldn’t be spending over $10.
#5 – Bearings
More good news. Like hardware kits, skateboard bearings aren’t particularly expensive; you’ll be looking at around $10-15 for a set. And, that’s a high-quality set!
If you’ve already started looking at bearings for your custom board, you’ll have seen plenty of references to ABEC ratings. That’s an industry standard for skating bearings.
1 is the lowest rating, slowest and lowest quality. You don’t want those.
The ABEC 9+ is the highest rating, fastest and highest quality. If you can afford the ABEC 9+, then go for them. If not, try and stick to at least the ABEC 7s and above.
Although ABEC provide the ratings, you’ll be heading to traditional skate brands to make your purchase. As we mention in our detailed guide to skateboard bearings here, this is our preference when it comes to brands:
Can’t be bothered to read our guide, and want a quick recommendation?
Bones bearings are arguably the best skateboard bearings on the market. Ironically, they run their own ratings, not ABECs. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re an inferior brand.
The skateboard bearings coming out of the Bones factory, are pro-grade.
#6 – Wheels
Let’s face it, your bearings are going to be useless without a decent set of wheels.
Low quality wheels are going to make your deck vibrate like crazy, meaning you’re constantly unstable for tricks. They might last for ever, but that’s because they offer no individual quality that a decent skate wheel does (i.e. grip, stability and the ability to absorb vibrations).
OK, so your wheels aren’t going to be dirt cheap, but you’ll only need to budget a maximum of $30 for them. Typically, you’ll be able to grab top branded skate wheels, for anywhere in the $15-30 range, depending on what’s on offer at the time.
That guide is nice and detailed. Want a recommendation, rather than having to read it?
Everyone has their favourites, but I like Spitfire wheels.
#7 – Risers
One more item, and your bank balance can take a breather. You’ll need to budget $10-15 for risers, if you want them. They’re not essential.
So, why do people pay for skateboard risers?
They lift the height of the board slightly, to stop wheel rub. You’ll get that if you have large wheels and loose trucks (some people like that).
If you don’t get wheel rub, you don’t need them.
As I mentioned earlier, an additional benefit of risers is they can help to absorb big landings.
Mini-Logo make a good set of risers.
What Tools Do You Need To Build A Complete Custom Skateboard?
The tool kit you’re going to need to build a skateboard is simple.
Most online skate shops sell a “skate tool”. That’s basically a Swiss-Army knife for skateboards.
Asides from that, you’ll need a screwdriver, and you’re good to go!
How To Build Your Own Custom Skateboard
You’ve got your tools, you’ve got your parts. Now you need you put it all together.
Fitting Your Skateboard Trucks
Start by fitting your skateboard trucks. Technically, you could fit the wheels and bearings onto the trucks first. But, it’s a lot easier to fit them onto the trucks, with the trucks secured to the deck.
Make sure your trucks main bolt (i.e. the kingpin) faces towards the middle of the deck. Grab your hardware and push a screw through each of the 8 holes in your deck. They’ll be 4 for each truck.
Then, tighten the screws onto the trucks.
With anything like this, it makes sense to spread the stress as you tighten the screws. If you put stress on one section of the deck, it’s going to induce weakness, and the board snapping, long before it should.
So, nip each screw up, just at the point where it’s starting to tighten/show some sign of resistance. Then tighten with a ½ turn on the top left screw Move to the bottom right, top right, bottom left.
Keep doing this until the trucks are tight.
Fitting Your Wheels
Next, you’ll want to install the wheels. You’ll need to remove the bolts (and washers) from the trucks.
Put a bearing on each arm of the truck, there should be a washer to place onto the truck before the bearing. Slowly line up the wheel and push it onto the bearing. The bearing should ease into the wheel.
Finally, using the second washer, slide it onto the thread of the truck that’s poking out of the wheel, and tighten.
Thanks for reading our guide to customizing your pride and joy! Hopefully, that covers all the parts you need to go and build your own skateboard.
Still got questions? Bought some skateboard parts that you think are awesome?
We’d love to hear from you. So, drop a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Next: Where To Skateboard