The prototype for the first skateboard was a bright red, metal toy from the 1930s called the Scooter Skate. When its handle was removed, a child could ride the three-wheeled contraption like a skateboard, except it had steel wheels and lacked the ability to turn. A four-wheeled Skeeter Skate appeared in the 1940s. It was only marginally better.
The first true skateboards were made in the 1950s. Initially, these were handmade affairs, constructed by kids out of cannibalized roller skates that were nailed to the bottoms of wooden boards. Sensing a market for these new skateboards, one company offered a Scoot Kit, which saved customers the trouble of destroying a perfectly good pair of roller skates.
In the 1960s, skate maker Roller Derby got into the act with its own Skate Board Kit, which came with clay wheels mounted on trucks that could be screwed through metal plates and mounted to a board. It didn’t take long for Roller Derby to figure out that it could sell more skateboards if they were fully assembled, which is what it did with the #10 Skate Board, which had a bright red deck and bone-rattling steel wheels.
The list of 1960s companies from Southern California to Ontario, Canada that made skateboards is very long. There was the Official Skee-Skate Air Master, whose brown deck featured a white box in which the owner could write his or her name. The narrow (4 inches) Zipees Sidewalk Surfboard played on the notion that skateboarding was really just surfing on concrete.
Many of the design precedents for contemporary skateboards were established in the 1960s. Putting logos on the board’s deck was one such standard—in the case of Genuine Skateboard of Canada, that meant a little graphic of a maple leaf. Sokol Surf Skate was one of the first boards to feature letters that were burned into the wood. It also had a rounded, surfboard shape. The decks of Nash Sidewalk Surfers sported a trio of stylized footprints; Bauer, the Canadian hockey-skate company, decorated its boards with a bold white arrow.
Super Skate, also from Canada, was one of the first companies to try to improve upon standard steel wheels by offering its customers wider clay ones. In fact, the clay was really a composite made out of walnut shells. Sincor of Venice Beach also went with clay, but added touches like tapered rails (edges) on its skateboard decks in a manner that was reminiscent of surfboards.
Color started to be a big deal, too. Roller Derby came out with the Mustang (yellow on aqua, with yellow wheels to match). Zipees’ Lahana M-444 had green clay wheels and a pair o...
By the mid-1960s, Makaha of Santa Monica had hired surfer Phil Edwards to pitch its skateboards. Even more significant was the arrival of fiberglass and composite decks. Super Surfer’s fiberglass board, with its textured deck to ensure a good grip, was the hit of the 1965 World Skateboarding Championships in Anaheim, California.
The next major breakthrough came in 1972, when Frank Nasworthy invented urethane skateboard wheels. He called his company Cadillac Wheels, and his invention fostered a ton of new interest in the sport, as well as scores of imitators.
The Hang Ten, for example, was an aluminum skateboard with urethane wheels. Hobie diversified from surfboards to offer the Weaver Woody, which had Power Paw wheels and precision bearings to improve performance.
Skateboards were becoming increasingly sophisticated by the mid-1970s. Logan Earth Ski specialized in high-quality wooden decks, some with diamond tails, bulbous mid-sections, and delicately tapered rails. Bruce Logan, Torger Johnson, and Brad Logan all had signature models. Even Tony Alva of the famous Zephyr team from Dogtown (the area between Venice Beach and Santa Monica) rode a Logan.
In northern California, Santa Cruz Skate Boards was building skateboards with high-quality Bennett trucks and cream-of-the-crop Sims Pure Juice Bowl Rider wheels. Speed Springs trucks were also desirable—the Ed Nadalin Pro Model ran with those. Canadian company Wee Willie Winkels used X-Caliber trucks and Kahuna Tar wheels.
Rounding out the list of 1970s skateboard makers is G&S (Gordon & Smith), whose Fibreflex boards, with Bennett trucks and Power Paw wheels, were state-of-the-art wood-and-fiberglass laminates. G&S made a Stacey Peralta Warp Tail model—with Bahne trucks and Road Rider wheels—that was actually designed with empty swimming pools in mind. Alva Skates was another prominent company, as were the Pipecleaner and Moose skateboards produced by GNC.
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Rollin' & Scratchin', Daft Punk Release Limited Edition Skateboard93XRT Radio, May 21st
The description reads “These artisanal skateboard decks are handmade in France of molded beechwood by Hervet-Manufacturier. The board is clad with Formica laminate on both sides. The top face is laser engraved with a “grip effect” repeated logo pattern...Read more
Mike Bell keeps it surreal in SJCherry Hill Courier Post, May 21st
In addition to canvas and matchbooks, Bell also has painted his vivid images on skateboard decks, surfboards, outdoor bars … and guitars. (Full disclosure: this reporter's husband commissioned an electric guitar a few years ago, an instrument he...Read more
Core Careers: Tom Jones, NixonShop-Eat-Surf.com, May 21st
I found skateboarding when I was 10 and that summer I was given a VHS copy of Powell Peralta's video Future Primitive, which had a profound effect on me. The creativity in that video along with the board graphics and skate mags at the time introduced...Read more
Hellboy, Minecraft and D&D -- Summer camps for the geek at heart: The Week in ...OregonLive.com, May 21st
There's everything from Skateboard Deck Design to Forensic Science, and from Algebra Prep to Lawyer Camp. With more than 20 locations, the all-important avoidance of summer rush-hour traffic is that much easier. (Prices and schedules vary, financial...Read more
Retired Ranger Sean Avery's Next Career Move: Homebuilder in the HamptonsCurbed Hamptons, May 20th
Furniture includes a Case-Study V-Leg bed in the master and Muji beds in guest rooms, as well as minimalist Hem Palo sofas and skateboard decks with Basquiat drawings as artwork—all of it chosen by Avery. Intrigued, we sat down with the burgeoning ...Read more
Breckenridge shop taps into summer with skateboards, longboards and fatbike ...Summit Daily News, May 19th
To celebrate the Breckenridge Skatepark's inaugural summer, Perkins and crew handpicked a lineup of skateboard decks, including complete models from Element and Darkstar that come with trucks and wheels. The shop also carries longboards from ...Read more
Search ramps up for skate park vandalsSunbury Daily Item, May 18th
SUNBURY — With two Valley skateparks being hit over the weekend with graffiti, the owner of the Timber Skate Shop in Sunbury is offering a free skateboard deck and a set of wheels to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the person or...Read more
Workshop participants to create skateboard decksEast Oregonian (subscription), May 6th
MISSION — Youths are invited to participate in a workshop to design their own skateboard or finger decks. The workshop, offered as part of the Pepsi Primetime@the Museum, is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, located near Wildhorse ...Read more