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Frequently Asked Questions

Mark at Puerto


1.Ordering on line

2.Balsawood Surfboards

3.Instructional DVDs and Ebooks

4.Board Building Tips

5.Freight costs, delivery Times and Insurance

6.Raw Balsa

7.Light Balsa V's Heavy Paulownia

8.Organic Cotton Shirts

9.References and Customers

10. Surfboard builders and Surfshops around the world

11. Uses for Balsa

12. Hollow boards


1.Ordering online

a. How do I order online? 

It's simple! Click on the product you want to order. Where available, choose size, colour and shipping options and click on the "Add to Cart" button. You will get redirected to the safe Paypal website where you will see your shopping cart. Make changes or click on "Proceed to checkout" to pay for your products with your credit card, debit card, bank account or with your paypal account. Done! Any questions? Contact us at

b. How do I order a surfboard online?
It’s very easy. First you browse the type of surfboard you are interested in – solid Malibu, performance Longboard, shortboard, gun, fish or minimal. Next click on “Add to cart” and proceed with checkout. Once you have finished the order process, send an email to and describe how you want us to shape your board (Always include your surfing skill level and the waves you surf most often). In some cases we will give you a call to discuss the shape more thoroughly. Done! After 3-4 weeks you’ll be surfing a brand new Riley Balsa Surfboard.

c. How do I order the Ebook online?
The Ebook is a digital product which you can download straight to your computer after payment. As for all other products, please click the "add to cart" button and follow the order process. After payment you will get redirected to a page on which you will see a large "download now" button. Click the button to automatically start the download.

d. I don’t want to pay online – I’d rather do a direct deposit or send a cheque!
No problem. If you want to order a board or blank, download the custom order form (available here), fill it out and send it back to us. Then send us a cheque or do a direct deposit: Please make cheques out to “KLEENLINES P/L” and post it to:
Mark Riley
156 President Ave
2228 Miranda, NSW
Australia Direct deposit in St. George Bank (BSB Number: 112-879/Account Number: 039953263)
Please e-mail receipt of payment details. ( .

2.Balsa surfboards

 a. Where are Riley Balsa Surfboards made?

Riley Surfboards are 100% hand-shaped and glassed in Australia since 1996 - Guarantee

b. How are Riley Surfboards made?
Our  surfboards are made from the finest balsa available - you can always choose between a solid construction,like the replica boards of the 50's and 60's, or a foam core performance construction which is also strong but a lot lighter. More detailed info on how we make our boards is available in form of a DVD.

c. What are the main materials?
Riley Balsa Surfboards are built with light Ecuadorian Balsa (some with a recycled polystyrene foam core" and South American cedar stringers, nose and tail blocks. They have a polish finish with one layer of 60 oz glass in a polyester resin. We are currently working on a more environmentally friendly resin. We will keep you updated!

Isn't it bad for the world's eco system to cut down balsa wood trees?
It is true that deforestation is one of the biggest problems for the world's eco system. The United Nations estimates that 37 million acres of pristine forest is lost every year to deforestation.  Therefore, the balsa wood we import is not harvested in tropical rainforests but grows on a sustainable and eco friendly farm. To further lower our impact on the environment we are currently growing trees in Australia. Balsa wood in general is not an endangered species as it is a very fast growing tree. After 3-4 years the tree is already harvested. The more that gets cut down the more that grows.

d. What are the advantages of your balsa surfboards?
Our boards:

• Come with a 12 month guarantee – if you snap it – we replace it
• Are more durable than a regular polyurethane board
• Are stronger ( only 2 Riley surfboard has snapped in the last 20 years and replaced)
• Are light
• Are environmentally friendly (they even store carbon!)
• Have a great feel in the water
• Can be custom shaped if required
• every board is hand-shaped and glassed = every board is unique

e. How come your balsa surfboards have such an attractive price compared to other balsa surfboards costing $4000 USD and above? Are they bad quality?

No, absolutely not. Our surfboards are without doubt of the highest quality available. We have tried and tested balsa surfboards of other manufacturers and we know that our surfboards are beyond their quality standards. We are sure you will agree with us as soon as you see and ride a Riley Balsa Surfboard. Check out what other people have said about our balsa wood boards
The reason our surfboards have an attractive price is four-fold:

• We grow and import our own balsa wood from Ecuador, Australia and Papua New Guinea
• We grow big trees and they are fast growing
• We import and export the balsa economically by containers (not by air)
• triple cedar stringer
• We have specialised in making balsawood surfboards since 1996

The reasons our surfboards are more expensive than a regular polyurethane surfboard are five-fold:

• All our surfboards are 100% hand made in Australia.
• A lot more time and materials goes into making a balsa surfboard
• They will last around 5 times longer than a normal board.
• Every board is unique in its grains
• They are more eco friendly than a normal board

f. My main concern is weight and I know even though balsa is light, it is not as light as polyurethane?
Our performance boards have a recycled polystyrene core. So they are lighter and stronger than a regular PU (Polyurethane) board.

g. How does the foam core construction compare to a solid balsa board in term of weight, performance and price?
Foam core boards are lighter and are more suitable for today’s performance surfing. However, if you are into the retro, cruisy feel, you should consider a solid board. The price is the same.

h. For a custom order, what are the different options you offer for performance and esthetics?
Anything is possible. On all our blanks and finished boards you can specify the dimensions, stringer combination, tail shape, what look you are after (clean white balsa or wooden look with knots etc.) Simply send us an email describing what you are after and we'll get back to you with a quote. Just email

i. Concerning fins, are they only glass on or can I get a middle box and 2 FCS/removable fins on my performance longboard?
 Again, anything is possible. Email us your thoughts at

j. I'm very interested in your solid balsa classic 9'1". Is it possible to get one without any of the dark stain blemishes in the grain?
Yes it is possible – but you must specify this when placing a custom order.

k. I definitely want the board to be free of any dark stains in the grain. I see a couple of different decals/logos on your boards. What are the options?
No worries – we can do whatever you want. Regarding logos: I HAVE THE WOOD GRAIN, BLACK, BLACK ON WHITE AND GREEN ON YELLOW.

l. How can I order extra inlays like the one on your website (like the one on the Minimal board with the pink frangipani)
Inlays such as the pink frangipani can be added to every board. The extra cost is $200 AUD. Please send an email to to discuss this option. 

m. I like boards that have a darker wood that runs the length of the board and looks like stripes. I don't know if it is teak or redwood or what but I think it makes it look more natural, custom and definitely noticeable as a wood board instead of fiberglass?
A part stain looks good

n. I'm just back from Hawai'i and rode a couple of hired 11ft longboards and I'm keen to add a longer longboard to my quiver for those smaller days on the Sunshine coast. I like the look and sound of your balsa longboards. I own a 9"6' McTavish Fireball. What would you recommend? What sort of fin would you recommend? Also, are there different types and colours of timber to choose from?
I would recommend a 11 footer at a cost of $2200.00 – single stringer with a single fin and with nose and tail blocks. If you want the flexibility - we can put a fin box in (I don't like the look of plastic and usually avoid it if I can). You have to calculate an extra $50 per stringer. The different choices of wood are a “clean white” or a “darker balsa” maybe with some knots.

o. I currently ride a 6'5, 19 1/4, 2 3/8 DHD. I m 79kg and  an intermediate level surfer, been surfing for 6 years. Which of your boards do you think might suit me? I am interested to consider a shortboard or a fish. How much heavier is a solid core board to foam core?
I would steer you away from a solid board (weight difference is about 30%) - no good for a performance board. I have just been testing our 6' fish in Rainbow Bay - it is great for the small days.

p. What option among your boards would be the most environmentally friendly?
The solid is the most eco friendly. There is no polystyrene core. A balsa wood tree grows very fast. After 3-4 years it already reaches a height of up to 10 meters and a diameter of 20-25 cm. Balsa wood is therefore highly sustainable and recyclable. During the shaping process we produce no toxic substances. 

Our foam core surfboards feature a recycled polystyrene foam core which is far more eco friendly than your regular Polyurethane surfboard but not as eco friendly as our solid version.

q. On your website its mentioned that you are currently working on a more environmentally friendly resin, any news?
Unfortunately we are still in the testing phase of our environmentally friendly resins. We will keep you updated in our newsletter and on this webpage as soon as we have news.

r. Can you sell me a full block of Balsa wood  6 feet x 2 half feet around x 6 inches?
I can sell you a blank for around $A600.

s. Why do you use balsa instead of Paulownia?
I use it because it's lighter, softer, easier to work with, cheaper, better looking, better adhesive to fibreglass, faster growing, more history and market acceptance of it and has better strength to weight ratio.

Testing by CSIRO in Australia has shown that Paulownia wood is very attractive for wood-boring insects.Paulownia species are also used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita excrescences.

t. Is it true that Riley Surfboards store carbon and that they are therefore good for the environment?
That’s right – approximately 50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon, removed from the atmosphere by a growing tree. So approximately half the weight of the balsa in our surfboards is carbon and it’s better locked up in there than out in the atmosphere!
Promoting the environmental advantages of wood is one of the aims of Wood. Naturally Better.™ We’ve recently become a Wood. Naturally Better.™ Program Partner because we support the use of sustainably sourced wood. Wood not only stores carbon, but it has low embodied energy too – the energy used to create and manufacture it – so it’s even more environmentally friendly.
You can find out more about Wood. Naturally Better.™ at

u. Do you guys make kits for hollow surfboards with frame kits IF NOT WHY NOT?
No – these a very difficult to make without any real benefits and they need to be well maintained and they are difficult to repair, they are also very limited to your custom shape – therefore we do solid and foam core!


3.Instructional DVD and Ebooks

a. I need to find out more about your dvd or book, are they the same? Which one do you recommend if they differ?
The instructions are basically the same. Of course, I recommend the DVD since it is always easier to see someone shaping on video rather then look at detailed pictures.

b. What size board(s) are the instructions and rocker template(s) on your web site for?  Is it for one size or several?
The instructions are for a solid longboard – but the same techniques can be used for a solid mini mal or short board. Either download the instructions for $17 – or the dvd for $60 (this includes a $30 credit for when you are ready to buy your wood). I can give you any particular rocker for whatever board you are interested in making.

c. I am into shaping a board. Do you supply the plans or only rocker templates?
The DVD as well as the book offer detailed instructions on how to build a board. I provide rocker templates with the kits.

d. I have just purchased your instructional dvd and enjoyed it heaps, I'd like to purchase a shaping kit now to start making a board but I am not sure how that works because the price includes the dvd again?
We also offer the shaping kits without the DVD. You can also quote your individual code during the order process to receive a $30 discount.

e. I am looking at getting your downloadable instructions and was wondering whether it comes with templates for the rocker?
Rocker templates are not included in the downloadable instructions. You should consider our complete surfboard building kits as these include everything you need, from the instructional DVD, the balsa wood, rocker templates, glue etc.

f. Does your DVD explain how to make different shapes and designs such as a fish or a “fun” shape or shortboard designs?
No, the instructions we offer so far concentrate on a solid or foam core balsa malibu. However, the techniques we explain can be used for shaping different designs.

4.Board building tips

We often get asked which equipment we use and which we can recommend when building a surfboard. Here we go:
Makita Power Tools: Riley only uses Makita power tools and has been using them since 1984! You realise how good they are after more than 27 years of use and the tools are still going! Check them out at!
DRS Industries: You know how important safety is in the construction and surfboard building industry. So do not cut corners and look after your health and safety and buy what Riley uses at
Shapers Australia: This is the one stop shop for all Riley's shaping tools and accessoires - simply buy online at

a. Can you use most any timber for the stringer?
No – red cedar is the best. If you are interested in red cedar please email me

b. Do you ever hollow your boards to lighten them, or will that risk the structural integrity of the board?
There are a lot of risks for not a big advantage for hollowing out a board. E.g. The air inside the chamber can heat up if you leave the board on the beach or in the car and eventually it will expand and pull the board apart. I would definitely NOT recommend hollowing a board out.

Riley doesn't  do hollow boards – I build solid 9 foot boards that weigh 10kgs and foam core ones that weight 7kgs. If you go to all the effort of hollowing out you might bring it down an extra 1kg so it would be 9kgs. All this work and saving 1 kg and possibly allowing all the ongoing problems of separation, watering entering, joins moving, air expanding, shaping through, adding vents, opening and closing vents – in my opinion not really worth it. 

The solid balsa boards are lighter than hollow Paulownia boards. Resin sticks to the balsa better because it is more absorbent. You must glass all wood when being exposed to sun and water to protect it - yes you need glass and resin to avoid water entering and wear and tear on a board that does not have resin and glass will deteriorate, so maintenance is a major factor - you must upkeep this every 6 months. If you glass it properly then it generally set for protection for life. 

c. I am a school teacher looking for year 12 projects for my students. I think it would be interesting for my students to hand built a surfboard. I would therefore like to bulk order some shaping kits. Is that possible?
Yes of course. Building a balsa surfboard is a great opportunity for students to learn wood working skills on a fun project. We have many students who build balsa surfboards as their year 12 project. Bulk orders are no problem. Simply contact us to talk about details.

d. I am interested in making a surfboard for my year 12 project. Can you help me?
 Yes of course. We have a lot of students who complete their year 12 projects with our help. We supply you with easy to follow surfboard making instructions, the balsa wood and anything else you might need. If you run into trouble we are always happy to help! Check out the “shape your own board” section of the website to find a product that suits your needs

e. I know that you use Balsa but I was wondering if I could use Paulownia and whether you know where to get it? Can Balsa and Paulownia be used in conjunction with each other to make a board?
Paulownia is more expensive than balsa, it is heavier but also harder than balsa. You can use Paulownia but you have to consider the pros and cons. You can also use Paulownia and Balsa in one board – you can glue them together – but please consider the weight of the finished board. I personally do not recommend using Paulownia.

Testing by CSIRO in Australia has shown that Paulownia wood is very attractive for wood-boring insects. Paulownia species are also used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita excrescens.

f. Why can’t I use Western Red Cedar for the stringers?
The polyester resin will not stick to it. Use South American Cedar instead. Please email me if you are interested in south American cedar/stringers (

g. How long does it take to make a balsa board?
It takes me around 30 hours to make a board starting from scratch. Starting out with one of the pre shaped blanks we offer, you are looking at 2-4 hours.

h. I'm making a fish Balsa surfboard for a WoodWork project in school. I'm from Ireland and im 15 years old. Would it be a hard project to make?
I have about 12 students a year make a board here in Australia. A solid board is the easiest.

i. On your site you mentioned that the cheapest kit is only for a low rocker, what do you mean by low rocker? What nose and tail rocker possible with that kind of kit?
The cheaper kit will give you a rocker of 2 inches (because the sticks are laid out flat – rather than on edge to draw your rocker on).Using the widest face to draw your rocker on will give you a rocker of 4” and 4”. Please note that the four or five piece balsa shaping kits are suitable for thin boards & flat rocker only - you must draw and cut your rocker on the narrower side of the timber to get the required width in the board.

j. Is a 4"3 nose rocker and 3"7 tail rocker possible with the cheapest kit?
You will have to upgrade to the slightly more expensive kit because you will need 7 pieces of balsa to have enough wood for this rocker.

k. Does the "up to 7' x 22'' - 2nd grade balsa - 7 pieces" kit allow for a rocker of 5 1/2"?
Yes the section sizes of the timber are 5 1/2" wide

l. What rocker template is provided?  Can I specify a short board or is it a strip of paper to develop the rocker on from one of my own designs?
A rocker template is provided - Depending on the board you want to make, I normally draw the a rocker template on the stringer or the balsa

m. Would you recommend 1st grade or 2nd grade balsa?
This really depends on what you are after and how much you want to spend. 2nd grade balsa is a bit heavier, darker, has more knots and is not as straight as first grade balsa. Some people actually like working with it since they like having knots etc. 1st grade balsa is very light, straight and has very few knots. But remember - even 1st grade balsa is a natural material so there are differences between the pieces. But that's the beauty of working with wood!

o. How much would it cost to make a 5'4 fish by 18'1/2 by 2'1/2?
This depends on whether you want to make a solid board or a foam core one.

Two options if you are after a foam core board:
- I have sheets 2.7mm thick x 500mm wide x 2000mm long for sale at $50 each – you could use 2 for deck and bottom and the other as bands/rails – total cost $150 (for wood and foam only)
- or you could purchase a pre shaped blank (recycled EPS foam core and 2-3mm balsa skin)

For solid boards:
- check out the complete shaping sets starting at $320

p. Do you provide instructions with your balsa skin foam core shaping kit?
The balsa skin, EPS core shaping kits are intended for advanced shapers. If you are a beginner we suggest you start out with making a solid board or using one of our blanks. We don’t supply instructions with the foam core kits because it is a bit technical and there are too many tools required for a novice shaper.

r. I'm trying to see if there is any way of using one saw for most of the cutting. Is that a possibility? Would a circular saw be able to cut the rocker, plan shape and straight edge? Would just a hand saw work for the rocker and plan shape?
Yes you could use a 9 ¼ “ portable power saw to do those 3 types of cut – but you need to have it sharp and use it slowly. Please note that the four or five piece balsa shaping kits are suitable for thin boards & flat rocker only - you must draw and cut your rocker on the narrower side of the timber to get the required width in the board(your portable power saw will not cut the depth of 5” you will need a band saw). 

s. At what stage would you put in a leg rope plug and the slots for the fins?
After your lamination

t. Do you want to ride this or hang on the wall (what should I buy/build)?

If you are going to ride this and you want some sort of performance from it (even if you are a beginner) then you need to go foam core. Yes solid balsa boards were built in the 50s so they were cruisers and at that time they were lighter than solid pine or cedar or koa.

 The solid boards are environmental better, but are more expensive and a bit harder to make.

u. Are the fins made the same way as you do the nose and tail blocks?
No, the fins are far more complicated and require more experience.

v. Pros and Cons of solid, hollow and foam-core boards

Pros for solid

Easier to make
Not as many tools required
Not as much technical skills required
Quicker to make
No chances of shaping through and exposing the core
No chances of balsa delam from core
Changes can be made while building the board
Easier repairs
Stronger and more durable
Straight parallel joins (no bands)
Many different wood combos and stringers are possible
Every board is unique
Any size, length and type of board is achievable

Solid balsa is lighter than hollow paulownia

Cons for solid

Use more wood

Pros for foam core balsa board

Use less balsa
Better for the environment
Every board is unique
Stronger and more durable that a PU board

Cons for foam core balsa board

Difficult to make
More tools required
More technical skills required
Longer to make
Chances of shaping through and exposing the core
Chances of balsa delam from core
Balsa rails
No changes can be made while building the board
Repairs more difficult
Not as strong or durable as a solid
balsa bands

Pros for hollow

A little lighter than a solid
Less wood is used

Cons for hollow

A lot of work to hollow out
Chances of shaping through
Chances of board delaming
Difficult to make
More tools required
More technical skills required
Longer to make
Chances of shaping through and exposing the core
Chances of balsa delam from bracing
Balsa rails or some sort of rail
No changes can be made while building the board
Repairs more difficult
Not as strong or durable as a solid

Pros for PU board


Cons for PU board

Bad for the environment when making
Bad for the environment when board is finished
Soft, fragile and easily broken
Common and with the same look

 5. Freight costs, delivery time and insurance

a. What would the freight be for a surfboard to Europe, USA, South Africa?
Around $300-400

b. What would the freight be for a surfboard building kit to Europe, USA, South Africa?
Around $200-300

c. What if something happens to my board during transport?
Don’t worry. All our surfboards are insured in case something happens on the way to you. Please unpack the board while the delivery driver is there. STC - Subject to check - when you receive your goods and you don't have time to open the packaging and check the goods, you should always write STC next to your signature!

d. Do I have to pay customs taxes?
This varies from country to country and the policies regarding import taxes and duties. Normally there will be some sort of local fees and charges..

e. How long do I have to wait before I receive my board?
In the summer months you should expect about four weeks for your board to arrive since this is our busiest time. Winter usually means quicker delivery in Australia.

f. How long does it take until you post an order?
That depends on what kind of order. For DVD's, Shirts, shaping kits, raw balsa we post it the day on or after we receive your order. Boards and blanks orders differ depending on how busy we are.

g. What happens if my board snaps overseas? If it snaps within a year of buying it you pay for the shipping back to Sydney and Riley will repair it.

6.Raw balsa

 a. Should I buy the DVD or the book and source the wood locally? 

We prefer you to source your wood locally but it will be difficult. We are one of the few companies who can deliver large section sizes of balsa at these rates.

b. I'm Titou a French shaper and i live in the French west Indies, a small island call "Guadeloupe" can you tell me if you think it's possible to ship some raw balsa there?? I need 10 pieces of 2m long and 4 of 3m long.
Yes, no worries. We can ship anywhere in the world. Unfortunately Guadeloupe is a very expensive shipping destination so shipping your 14 pieces of balsa would be $1350 AUD.

c. I have a need for your sheet balsa. Sizes 4mm, 6mm, and 10mm. Can you make 10” sheets for me at 12ft 6". Also some 10ft. I would place an order of 100 sheets 75by 10ft and 25 by 12ft 6".
The longest single lengths are 11 foot. I can join these to make 12 ½ ‘ if need be. The sections of my wood are around 6”x4”x11’ – these are $90 each
I can laminate sheets up 10” wide x 6mm x 10’ for $ 50 a sheet
10” wide x 4mm x 10’ for $ 40 a sheet
10” wide x 10mm x 10’ for $ 90 a sheet
I can laminate sheets up 10” wide x 6mm x 12 ½ ’ for $ 80 a sheet (there will be a butt join)
10” wide x 4mm x 12 ½’ for $ 70 a sheet (there will be a butt join)
10” wide x 10mm x 12 ½’ for $ 130 a sheet (there will be a butt join)

d. What density does the wood have?
It varies from stick to stick but it is around 120 kg per m3? .

7.Balsa vs. Paulownia

a. Questions from a High School Teacher – Bob and Marks replies

Bob, - What grade of recycled polystyrene and thickness of Balsa do you use in your kits? We are planning on using H density which weighs approx. 23kg per cubic metre which equates to around 2.3kgs per 100 litre volume. We tested three grades L,M,H for strength and found the H Grade twice the strength of L grade and 50% stronger than M grade  it was also a lot more moisture resistant. As the Paulownia is much harder than Balsa we will only be using using 3mm skins with 3 layers of 6mm for rails and 2 OZ Fibreglass and Epoxy top and bottom. 

Mark,-  My foam is 13kgs /m3(half the weight of your foam) and my skins are 2.8mm (balsa is half the weight of paulownia). So if you were to build a board with your method it would be double the weight of with my materials. For example my longboards come out at 7kgs(with 1 layer of 4 oz glass) – yours will be 14kgs (my solid balsa boards come out at 12kgs). By the way my foam and balsa are easier to handle and work. Fibreglass sticks better to balsa also. You do not need to use epoxy with balsa. Epoxy is expensive and you need to be super accurate with your measurements. Any surfboard glasser can glass a balsa board just like a normal polyurethane board.

Bob, - Thank you for your detailed reply. I am sorry to say that we have already committed to the H Grade foam and Paulownia for the first 12 or so builds but if this method turns out to be too heavy then we will definitely consider your kits. In the meantime we will keep buying your fin boxes and plugs etc

Mark,-  No worries Bob, just out of curiosity how much are you paying for your foam and paulownia?

Bob, - Width of paulownia boards are 150mm. We purchased a large block of recycled polystyrene 4800 x 1200 x 600 @ $1600 and Paulownia. Costs us approx. $3.50 per metre for 3mm and $5.25 pm for 6mm.

Mark,-  Regarding foam blanks – your block you will get 16 longboard blanks or 32 short board blanks – I see you are doing some of both so lets average it at 24 blanks that’s $66 each blank. My foam blanks already cut with rockers  are on average $50. My balsa is 6mmx115mmx1000mm is $4 and 2.8mmx115mmx1000mm is $3. Or a full sheet 2000mmx600mmx2.8mm is $70. Maybe next year Bob. Don’t get disappointed when working with Paulownia – balsa is a lot easier.

Hi Mark,

 I'm been looking into making a chambered hollow surfboard for a while now, just for a fun little project to keep me out of trouble on weekends. I've been looking around and reading about different woods and undecided on which to go for. I was wondering if there is a difference apart from price with balsa,cedar and paulownia?  Will they have a noticeable difference when surfing them?

 I want to shape a 5'10" x 19 3/4" x 2 1/2" single fin. Just wondering if i could get a quote for both cedar and balsa if thats alright.


Tom the difference is the weight. Balsa 100kg/m3, cedar 300 and paul 300. I don’t build hollow boards because of the technical, maintenance, hollowness, heaviness, vents, etc.

If buy balsa from me I will give you plenty of tips if you use my balsa – balsa is the lightest most flexible and easiest to cut and bend and most historical wood to use for surfboards - you will save time and money using this wood. You might want to check if you get any support from the other sellers/ suppliers of other wood before you buy because you could be stuck for advice when it comes to the crunch of completing your project for good marks.

Testimonial from a year 12 high school students father - My son has bumbled his way through the last couple of years at school with not a lot of enthusiasm. That somewhat changed when he found your website and asked me if he could build a surfboard for his major work. We were both pumped.

 To be honest it hasn’t been all clear sailing and he needed a push from time to time (which I have found 17 year old’s don’t appreciate).

 The look on his face yesterday when he saw the board sitting on the saw horse’s was priceless for me and for that Mark I am truly thankful. The time you gave him to have a chat and to get some great photos was really appreciated.

 I left your place and he said “what a champion bloke Mark is”. 17 year old’s are hard to impress and you made a fan yesterday.

 It will be the highlight of his entire school life and the best father/ son bond that I have had with my son since he was a kid.

 Cheers for everything Mark, I know you dropped everything for him. Keep doing what you are doing mate and I look forward to doing a board for myself in the future. (My son can help me) Thanks

Generally solid balsa boards are lighter and easier to build than a hollow paulownia board.


 8. Organic cotton apparel

a. Is the quality really that much better than a regular t-shirt?Yes! Our t-shirts are made with 100% organic cotton (not a mix!) and we produce right here in Australia. The fabric we use is premium 190gms organic cotton. This is a much higher quality than regular cotton. We also use twin needle reinforced neckline stiching and cover stitched hems. Therefore our t-shirts last a lot longer than most other t-shirts.

b. What's wrong with regular cotton?
Growing and harvesting regular cotton impacts not only the earth’s soil but also our oceans, the air and thus the health of us humans. To produce enough regular cotton for one t-shirt it takes almost a third of a pound (140 grams) of fertilizer and pesticides. Cotton in general needs a lot of water to grow - Around 3,500 litres of water are required to produce 0,5 kg of cotton! The worst part is that around 50%-60% of this water is lost due to evaporation. Our organic cotton grows as natured intended - without the use of pesticides, genetically modified seeds or synthetic fertilizers. The soil is built up over the years to retain moisture and fungus enabling our organic cotton to prosper on a dry land (non-irrigated) farm.c. What else?
Using 100% organic cotton and producing here in Australia is considerably more expensive than producing in China or India as most other companies are doing. Furthermore, our t-shirts are made entirely from organic cotton (100%). Many companies offer organic cotton apparel - but check to see if it is 100% or blended - If it is blended and the amount is not stated you could buy a shirt which is made of as little as 1-3% organic cotton. 
9. Customers/References
Please also check our "Who we support" page. Since 1996 we have donated to support the surfing world, environmental issues and communities by contributing time, support, gifts, products and money to make the world a better place. Check out who we support by clicking here.Check back regularly to read the latest news or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

a. Who are your customers?Since 1996 we have delivered the highest quality balsa wood surfboards, balsa blanks and raw balsa to various customers in Australia and abroad. Apart from private customers we are very proud of delivering our products to other companies such as surfboard builders, set builders or even schools.

Riley Balsa has the perfect section sizes for surfboard building and set building to suit all requirements. We can cut, laminate, dress and finish your particular orders with some fast turnaround times. Contact Mark ( to discuss your needs. See below some of the current clients of Riley who have been buying from them for over 20 years.

10. Surfboard builders and Surfshops around the world that use Riley Balsa –  if you live near these guys then contact them to order your balsawood, or balsawood surfboard or balsa stringer and have it custom built from your local shaper. Don’t forget to ask for Riley’s light balsa not heavy Paulownia.

Bennett Surfboards

Dion Blanks

Dick Van Straalen

Joe Larkin

MC Surf Designs

Mitchell Ray – Outer Islands

Bob McTavish

Len Dibben

Scott Dillon

Shapers Australia

Dovetail Surfboards

Surfing Green

Noosa Longboards

Anagote Timbers

Bruce Montgomery

Shapers Australia

Nathian Grey

Dripping Wet Surfshop

Paulownia Paradise

Harvey Surf Gallery

Delux Industries Board Company


Bushrat Surfboards

Southcoast Longboards

Murfs Surfshop

Annesley Surfboards

Ron Goddard Surfboards

Zac Surfboards

James Crisp


Bob Brown Surfboards

Outerreef Surfboards

Trigger Brothers

Sadhana Surfboards

Surfline Surfboards


Maui Jims Sunglasses

Weapon Surfboards

Southcoast Foam and Fibreglass


Jersey Homegrown - Surfboards and Ocean Craft

Bywater Design

Mair Surfboards

Jungle Surf

Carabine Surfboards

Pieter Surfboards

Hobie USA

Surfblanks Australia

PKL Timber Surfboards

GWS Wooden Surfboards

Hobie Surfboards

Adrianne Dimitrakakis from Atlas The Collective

Native Kneeboards

McTavish Surfboards

Mathew Manners

Tomas Oberst kadgien

Set Builders and Designers that use only Riley balsa –
Fox Films Australia – Wolverine
Maxim Sets
Wild Sets
CB Productions
Yippee Ki-Ya
Southern Star Productions
Concord TV Productions

RMIT Racing team car chassis

11. Balsa wood is used for many different applications. Rileys sells different forms of balsa to different industries. Anything is possible because of the large and light section sizes of balsa we have in stock. At any one time we will have 1000 sticks of 170mmx75mmx3000mm to choose from for the right application.

– Surfboard building – solid, foam core and hollow boards


-Nose and Tail blocks

-University Car racing teams - UH formula race car “UH FSAE” (FSAE is Formula Society of Automotive Engineers)

 -RMIT Racing team car chassis
- Boat building
- Deck building
- Model building – airplanes, yachts, ships, sports cards, trucks, houses, buildings, Bridges
- Rifle handle butts
- Sewing boards
- Mould making
- Wind Turbines
- Floors for trucks and sports cars
- Carving for schools
- Model and Hobby Shops
- Rafts Insulation
- World war air fighters jets
- Fishing floats and lures
- Table tennis bats
- End Grain
- Swing tags
- Wedding cards
- Picture Framing
- Chewing toys for birds
- Dart Boards
- Sound insulation for music rooms
- Sanding blocks
- Dowels for fish line reels
- fins
- trophies
- Alaia Blanks
- Clocks
- Artists panels for painting
- Set building for movies, adverts, commercials for break up of furniture, walls, floors, roofs

-Bee Hives

l: pre-shaped foam core (EPS) blank

12. Hollow boards - Hi Mark, I’ve seen a couple of videos on your boards that are very interesting. I just wanted clarify one thing about them. Are they solid balsa or are they hollow core?

I don’t do hollow boards - because they are more difficult to make, more maintenance, they are a worry in the sun and hot days and in cars, they tend to twist more easily, there is not a lot of play and fine tuning your finished shape, there is more chance of shaping through, the board is more fragile with more chance of water entering, vents are more crucial with install and keeping clean and removing.

 So I do a light high performance recycled foam core with balsa sheets all shapes and sizes  -

 Or a solid board that is a bit heavier -

Any other questions just send me an email -

Don't forget that I give service before, during and after the sale is made.