Michael Paul has been immersed in surfing and its culture for decades. He has traveled and surfed around the globe, picking up shaping tricks from some of the best masters in the industry. Michael created his own surfboard label, Proline Surfboards, which are shaped and sold exclusively at his store, Hot Wax Surf Shop, in Wilmington, NC. Now, he is sharing his foam-carving expertise with others by offering a Basic Surfboard Shaping class that meets weekly in the Shaping Room at Hot Wax Surf Shop.
What inspired you to shape your own surfboards?
“I think the thing that inspired me the most was watching my original mentor, Ed Barbera shaping surfboards on the North Shore of Oahu. I was living in Hawaii right after UNCW graduation for a couple of years and was able to hang out at the Country Surfboards Factory in Sunset Beach.”
How long have you been shaping boards?
“I have been shaping Surfboards for over 37 years and I am still passionate about learning and changing with the evolution of Surfboards and Design.”
How did you learn how to shape surfboards?
“I feel like I am still learning little things about surfboard shaping by discovering new tools to perform old tricks. It is still exciting for me to hold and feel the curves and subtle bottom contours of a finished shape.”
How did the board-shaping school evolve?
“Many times, people have asked to watch me shape their custom boards and there has always been a lot of excitement in the Shaping Room. I was involved with several senior projects where the students wanted to learn shaping and it was always a positive thing for Hot Wax, so I decided to open it up a bit more and start teaching a Basic Surfboard Shaping class to anyone. The response has been great and currently, new classes are held three days per week.”
What do you teach students?
“Some of the things I teach during the first 3-hour class are the thought patterns, all of my understanding of hand-shaping surfboards, and how to achieve the end-result with carving personal details into a piece of foam (the surfboard blank). We discuss other things during class dealing with using specialized tools, template designs and even how computers can aid the process.”
How involved are students in the process?
“All of the first classes are similar with the student seeing a surfboard completely shaped from a raw blank and fins marked ready for the fiberglass process to begin at the surfboard factory. As the second class begins, it is catered to the individual student and it is a more hands-on approach with the templates of a surfboard being drawn and cut out by the student. We have it set up so that if a student wants to shape their own custom surfboard, I will be there to guide them throughout the entire process.”