Scoots Handplanes are what happens when Huntington Beach-based surfer Daniel Strudwick busts his board in the summer of 2013 and fights his boredom by bodysurfing. While handplanes are hardly new to the waters of Surf City, Strudwick's handsome handmade pieces are fresh from under the sander.
During his board's recovery, Strudwick spotted handplanes in a local shop and decided to try making his own for bodysurfing. "I like making stuff," he tells us. "If I can make something over buying it, I will." And so the self-taught craftsman did just that, using poplar wood, a foam traction pad, a nonadjustable strap and a varnish finish. One session had him convinced of the power of the handplane, so he made ones for his father and brothers. Along with their seals of approval also came nudges to start selling the handplanes.
The beauty of handplanes rests in their ability to give bodysurfers more speed and control. With a surface nearly three times as big as a hand, handplanes provide a smooth platform for bodysurfers to lift themselves out of the water, upping control while on the wave. Channels carved into the underbelly of the handplanes help boost speed—an enhancement every bodysurfer wants.
What started as a small idea to make a handplane for himself has quickly sprouted into a new small family-run business for the aquaphile, who also works at a wakeboard shop in Orange and studies environmental science at the University of Phoenix. The Diamond Bar native says the relatively simple handmade process of crafting a handplane takes about two to three hours, yet the numerous steps involved are spread out over the course of roughly one week. "It's a lot of sanding," says Strudwick, who sets up shop in his front yard in Huntington Beach with just a table and his trusty set of hand tools. Inquisitive neighbors are undoubtedly helping spread the good word about Scoots Handplanes.
Currently, Strudwick offers three $80 handplane designs: crescent tail, squash tail and swallow tail. His pieces are made using poplar and mahogany wood, which are sourced from local hardware stores. Family members and friends lend their skills to the process, like his father, who created the rad wave-shaped brand that burns its mark into each handplane, and his girlfriend, Megan Hopper, who sews the adjustable straps. Adding another notch to the tally of awesome over at Scoots is the green fact that no materials are wasted in the creation of a Scoots handplane. The wood scraps, for example, are tossed into a bonfire to heat the brand.
Scoots Handplanes are available at the Scoots Handplanes website and Rockin Fig Surf Headquarters on Main Street. Upcoming developments include the incorporation of stringers; designs using multiple types of wood; Scoots Handplanes shirts, which will be screen printed by Strudwick's two younger brothers; as well as hopeful placements in more HB storefronts.
When asked about the big picture, Strudwick, who frequents the weekly Surf City Nights and the adjoined Dough Dough's Hawaiian Malasadas and Hula Girls Hawaiian Shave Ice, says he wants to keep his life, work and handplanes fun and simple. "I never went into it with the mindset of I'm going to make these and sell them," he says. "I want to do this because I want to have fun in the water." The only items needed to bodysurf are fins and a handplane, and Strudwick notes, "I think it's the simplicity of it that makes it so fun."
The local artisan adds, "I don't ever want it to turn into being bummed that I have to go make handplanes. I have just as much fun making them as I do using them, and I want to keep it that way. My goal is to have as much fun as I can with it."