Surfboard Anatomy
Min Read Time

Surfboard Anatomy

In this article, we will take a look at the parts that make up the surfboard and how they come together to provide a pleasurable surfing experience.

It’s true that surfboards come in all shapes and sizes. Nowadays, it’s almost gotten to the point where they’re so vastly different that you aren’t sure if you are looking at a surfboard or something else. That being said, almost all of them have the same anatomy. 

Surfboards are deceiving. They look like planks of wood that simply do wonders and seamlessly glide through currents, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Boards are carefully engineered instruments that allow for maximum performance and the expansion of skills. 

The build today, even though sleek, is quite complex. But worry not, as we are going to break everything down for you part by part, from the density of the materials to the dimensions, up to the lacquer and the method that was used when they were put together. 

How Long Does It Take To Make a Surfboard?

Since we’re starting off from the drawing board, this ends up being a common question, especially when you’re waiting for your custom surfboard to arrive. So, how long does it take a luthier to go from a lump of wood to a finished product? Well, that all depends on the board that they are making and how much detail they are putting into it.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s take a longboard. An experienced luthier can produce a fully functional longboard in about two hours. Now, this is an example of when they are racing the clock. If they take their time and make sure that they’ve got everything right, then the time frame extends to a couple of days, at least. 

Even if a luthier decides that they want to craft the board in the least amount of time, they still have to be very sharp from beginning to end. They have to keep a keen eye on the gravity, drag, buoyancy, and lift of the board.

All of these differ depending on whether they are working on a shortboard, malibu board, longboard, fish board, gun board, or a stand-up paddleboard.

Obviously, the parts will differ as well, so let’s get into some specifics.

Surfboard Parts

Surfboard Parts

As we mentioned before, most surfboards on the market today consist of the same components, regardless of how different those components might look. 

These parts are considered to be the fundamental parts of a surfboard, and they are: 

  • The Nose

The nose is the part of the surfboard body that takes up the upper 12 inches of the board when measured from the tip down. This part is very important for the board’s overall maneuverability, as well as its paddle capabilities. 

  • The Tail

On the opposite end of the nose, you will find the surfboard’s tail. This part is located at the very end of the board - hence the name - and just like The Nose, it occupies a surface of 12 inches. The tail is the most important board component when it comes to speed. It's the back of the surfboard, or the last 12 inches starting from the tail. It has a lot of influence on speed and control.

  • The Rails

The Rails are the side edges of the board that are usually rounded out to different degrees.

  • The Stringer

The Stringer is a thin strip that stretches out vertically throughout the entirety of the surfboard. It is in place to reinforce the board’s straight and keep it from bending on hard impact.

  • The Deck

The Deck is the flat surface of the surfboard that is waxed and where the rider plants their feet.  

  • The Bottom

The bottom is the overleaf surface from The Deck. It’s the part of the board that comes in contact with the water during the surf.

  • The Fins

The fins are the main things that keep the board from flipping over and sliding off to the side. With their help, the surfer is able to better control the board in terms of direction. Usually, you will find five types of fin setups: single fins, twin fins, thrusters, four fin, and five fin setups.

  • The Leash Plug

The plug is a round cup that is usually attached to the deck of the board. It’s in place so that the surf lash can be attached to something. 


A surfboard length is measured in feet or inches. In order to measure the length of the board, you are looking for the distance between the top of the nose and the lowest point of the tail. 

The width of a board is measured in inches. It’s the distance between the two rails on the sides at their widest point. 

The thickness of the surfboard is the distance between the deck and the bottom at their thickest point. This is the main factor in determining the buoyancy of a board. 


There are literally an infinite number of ways that a surfboard can be designed. You can even have offset surfboards that are made exclusively for certain types of waves. The main things to consider are:

  • The outline of the board—the oval shape that the board is carved in.
  • The foil—the rate at which the thickness of the board changes from its nose to its tail.
  • The rocker—the degree of curve that a board features. 
  • The concave—the contour and shape of the bottom of the board that comes in contact with the wave. 

In Closing…

Everything from the surfboard rails to the surfboard fins and even the pin tails has a tremendous impact on the way that a surfboard performs. All parts of a surfboard have to come together in order for you to excel and catch waves. 

Does your board feature a squash tail, a round tail, or maybe a pin tail? Also, what kind of a leash plug does it feature? Do you prefer a square tail or a pointed nose?

From the surfboard nose to the surfboard tails, the overall shape board has to work for you and your style. 

Consider everything. How did that one go? …more than the sum of its parts.

Written by
Nico Palacios
surf coaching