I Made a Skateboard

June 21, 2020
2 min read
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In the film 180° South, Yvon Chouinard talks about how climbing is essentially a useless act: “You get to the top of a wall, there’s nothing up there. Lionel Terray, the great French climber called it ‘The conquistadors of the useless.’ Yeah, the end result is absolutely useless, but every time I travel, I learn something new and hopefully I get to be a better person.”

I love this observation about climbing, and I think it reflects the way I’ve always viewed skateboarding. In many ways, it is a useless act—but in the same way art is a useless act. In a culture which centers around work and pragmatics, doing something purely for the sake of enjoying it can be refreshing.

I started skateboarding back in elementary school. My uncle Kevin had grown up skating himself, and gave me a couple of his old boards right before I started middle school. I would spend hours skating around in the street, and eventually it became a primary activity with friends throughout high school. While many stereotypes of skateboarders exist in America, it might also be seen as an art form and as a craft. We were often kicked out of locations, or viewed as burn-outs with nothing to do. But I think my friends skated for the same reason I did. There is a beauty in carving down a hill or feeling the wind in your shirt. When I started college, skating eventually faded out of my life. In an attempt to find a few personal projects in the midst of the pandemic, I decided to reuse the trucks from my uncle’s old board, bought some new wheels, and shaped my own deck out of an old cabinet shelf.

My uncle Kevin’s old board.
Using a paper template to trace a shape onto the board.
Cutting out the main profile with a jigsaw.
Putting on the old trucks.

All Content © 2020 Alex Catanese. All rights reserved.