Strap In: Makai Project Handplanes Keep Evolving

July 15, 2013

Our hand-shaped handplanes just got a whole lot more dynamic. After some rather unseasonable swells down here in Juno Beach, the research and development branch of the Makai Project shop (i.e. me and a few other beach rats) have been busy at work creating, testing and trying to destroy the newest improvement to our handplanes. We aren't reinventing the device—yet—but we have made some solid improvements: An adjustable polypropolene strap (saltwater resistant) that uses stainless steel rings as anchors and recycled neoprene from an old wetsuit for comfort and padding.

  • FatFish-w-Rings-no-Strap
    FatFish Handplane with Stainless-Steel O Rings

None of this is new; many companies have been doing a similar setup to this in some shape, way or form. What sets ours apart is the makeup, and it starts with the handplane itself. We start with thick, laminated blanks made in-shop, which in itself is rather rare on market. The laminating allows us to make up some pretty sweet wood layups, alternating different species that compliment and contrast each other. Its within this laminate layup that we place the anchors. Using stainless-steel “O” rings and rectangular loops from the marine industry—super rust resistant—we laminate these into the wood, which does two things: Eliminates screws and after-the-fact hardware many companies use; and makes the anchor super strong—they aren't going anywhere, you need to destroy the handplane to get them out. Built thick, we hand shape each plane, using—get this—handplanes. Boom! The design allows for steep rockers, deep channels and tight rails, which cruises in the water much like a boat.

  • Handplane-w-Rings-and-Straps
    FatFish Handplane with Western Cedar, Aspen and Poplar.
Strapped to these anchors, the polypropolene webbing secures the hand secure on the board, eliminating the old style cut grip we were using. This reduced a lot of free-flowing water that would spray, a la rooster tail, out the old grip style, which would limit visibility down the line. Now its nothing but smooth sailing. The strap we're using is a heavyweight polypropolene sailing webbing, which has great UV protection, highly resistant to saltwater, and a breaking strength of well over 900 pounds. The buckle allows the rider to tighten or loosen the strap for comfort and snugness, so no matter how big or small your hand is, you can find the comfort zone.

And though this strapping offers superior strength and resistance to the elements, alone, the stuff is uncomfortable and rash inducing. To counter the chafe, we recruited an old retired wetsuit to act as a sleeve on the webbing. This not only counters the rigidity of the webbing, it also helps keep the buckle from shifting, interfering with the thumb, as well as tying down excess webbing needed for adjustment. Everything winds up coming in a nice, compact package that's comfortable and user friendly, adding to the overall ride.

  • Bottom-of-FatFish-w-Straps-and-Rings
    Double Channel Handplane
We are using both our FatFish sizes—15½ and 19 inches—with either double, single and grooved channels. This newest handplane will be hitting the site for sale this weekend, so keep and eye out. And as always, everything is made in South Florida for a Sunshine State of mind. Enjoy the ride folks.