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Link’s Skateboard Tutorial

Link's Skateboard // pensebrox.com

Today I reveal my contestant look for July’s CraftingCon theme, The Legend of Zelda, over at the official CraftingCon blog. The project is something I’ve been planning for months and I’m super excited about the end results. Be sure to check out the post after reading a bit more about my adventures with making the custom painted skateboard.



The whole outfit idea came together when I had the passing thought that if Link existed in 2016, his shield would totally double as a skateboard. Of course that meant I just had to custom paint a skateboard to complete the look.


Three things came into play when I selected a skateboard to use for this project:
1.  Size: I wanted a “mini cruiser” because I thought anything bigger than that would become unwieldy for my 5 year-old to handle.
2. Material: The board needed to be made from wood in order to make it easy to re-paint. Yes, you can paint on plastic but a lot of the pre-made plastic boards had molded elements that would of been pretty hard to cover if not impossible.
3. Cost/Time: Before purchasing a completed board, I did look into buying a blank deck and other components. Once I calculated shipping into the equation it all became very pricey or would of taken too long to get to my doorstep.
In short: Having the best board for practical use was not a priority since nobody in the house currently skates thus I went for something cheap that I could easily work with.

The Ridge Maple Mini Retro Cruiser (affiliate link) pretty much was the perfect fit for what I wanted and was under $30 on Amazon.


How did I customize the skateboard?

Materials Required

Wood skateboard deck
Sandpaper (fine and coarse)
Acrylic Paint (1)
Acrylic Varnish (1)
Wood Stain (2)
Paint brushes of varying sizes
Foam Roller
Stiff Nylon Paint Brush
Trays/Cups for holding paint
Soft rags/paper towels
Rubbing Alcohol
Acetone (3)
Cotton Balls (3)
Hex Keys/Pliers (4)
Large Fan (5)

(1) About the paint: You don’t want to mix paint types unless you are purposely trying to get crazy things to happen. I stuck with water based paints/stains which meant a varnish for water based paints was required to seal the project.

(2) I use a water based wood stain for the “dirt” details on the board, you could also used thinned paint for a similar effect.


(3)  Acetone soaked cotton balls removed the silkscreen lettering on the wheels lickety-split. You don’t need this if your wheels are already plain or you want to keep the existing graphics.

(4) If you need to dissemble your skateboard then those tools are a must.

(5) Having a large fan was a big help in not only making sure dust/back-spray went away from the work area but it also helped circulate the air speeding up the drying time of each step. Optional yes but I really recommend it.


Step 1: Remove wheels and any other hardware elements from deck.



Step 2: Using coarse sandpaper, I sanded off the original finish. I made sure to get all sections of the deck because even a little bit of the clear finish left behind could effect the final paint job.



Step 3: After sanding is complete, I cleaned the dusty residue off the deck with rubbing alcohol and a soft rag. There is no need to soak the whole thing, a little bit goes a long way.



Step 4: Once the deck is dry, I added the base paint layer. I used a foam roller brush and it took two coats for even coverage. Make sure the paint is 100% dry before adding a second coat. I did this step on a hot day with moderate humidity and it took 2 hours to dry before I could add the second coat.



Step 5: I used a scrap of contact paper and traced the design from an image I found via a Google search in order to make a stencil.



Step 6: Now here is the tricky part. Depending on the colors, amount of paint coats needed, and types of paints used, dabbing the paint directly onto the stencil might make a huge mess of things. I ended up having to trace the basic design onto the deck and then carefully filled everything in by hand using a small paint brush. The base blue was so dark it took quite a few coats before I was happy with the coverage.  I made sure that each layer was 100% dry between each coat.



Step 7: Now is the step where I sanded off parts of the beautiful paint job that I spent 3 days on (ha!).  I used a combination of fine sandpaper and a very fine buffing block to distress the painted finish. I focused on the edges and center of the deck, imaging it would be the areas to receive the most damage if used as a shield. This part is very artsy-fartsy and take your time with it. Just remember if you decide you went overboard in an area, you could always do a touch up in the section with paint.



Step 8:  After wiping the sanding dust off the board using a soft cloth, I applied a layer of water based wood stain. You can use thinned down paint as well. The purpose of this layer was to add depth and dirty look to the deck as if it had been used for awhile. When I applied the stain I left some areas streakier than others.



Step 9: I wiped off the excess stain after 30 minutes and ended up doing a second coat to add more to certain areas. How long you leave the stain/paint on really depends on the weather and what suits your eye. Less is more and you can always keep adding coats until you are satisfied.



Step 10: After the stain layer is 100% dry, for the final layer of distressing, I used silver paint and a stiff nylon paint brush to add “scratches” all over the deck. In order to keep things from looking splotchy, I used a paper towel to remove excess paint from the brush only leaving a hint of paint behind. If you accidentally put too much paint in an area you can either try to distribute it was a CLEAN DRY brush or GENTLY DAB the excess paint away using a rag with a bit of rubbing alcohol. You don’t want to soak, rub, or linger too much in the area or you’ll start making a mess since while the other paint layers are dry, they paint is probably not fully cured yet.



Step 11:  For all the dust/stinky parts of this project I moved everything out to the well-ventilated back porch.  Ventilation is especially important at this stage while using a spray varnish. Once I was satisfied with my paint job I sprayed the deck with multiple (thin) coats of a clear acrylic varnish. I gave each layer a chance to dry between coats and before the final coat, I lightly buffed the board using the very fine sanding block.
It was humid the day I did this step and it pretty much took me all day since the dry time was extended due the excess moisture in the air. Having a large fan blowing in the work area was definitely a help and probably prevented this step from bleeding into the next day.



Step 12: There is a big difference between paint DRYING and paint CURING. Once the paint/varnish feels dry to the touch you can’t easily smear it but it does not mean that the paint is at maximum hardness. It can take WEEKS before it reaches that stage. While it had been about 48 hours between the final varnish coat and me needing the skateboard for photos, it was definitely not long enough for the finish to be up to full durability. During photos the board got dinged up in a few places that would of probably been prevented if the paint had been completely cured. Nothing I can’t buff out and do a touch up on but just take it as a warning that this is the sort of project that you need to plan ahead for.



I have to confess that the skateboard is my favorite part of this look but the other pieces are pretty awesome as well. You should definitely stop by my CraftingCon contestant post to learn more about the entire look.


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