Welcome back to another round of Comacan Questions, this week we are joined by a brand recommended to us online when we asked the readers who they’d like to see. Our guests today are creators from Toronto, educating by building skateboards and more. We are excited to share an interview with such a creative and inspiring group, without any further delay, please enjoy this week’s interview with Roarockit.
Why did you choose the name Roarockit?
Ted (Hunter) originally had a company called Rocket Brand Sails, where he made and repaired windsurfing sails. We thought we might just use that name, but the number of rocket-related names out there was a little crowded! Ted has always been in awe of space and rockets, and rockets ROAR, so we combined the two words. As our business is providing kits to make bentwood objects, Norah suggested using the KIT spelling at the end. The name became Roarockit Skateboard Company!
What inspired you to start a skateboarding & long boarding company?
It was a happy combination of circumstances and sticking our necks out! While volunteering at a visual arts centre in Maui, Hawaii, Ted was asked to teach youngsters in the woodshop. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of 10 year old kids using power tools. Norah suggested that as he was so good at bending wood for his artistic sculptures, that perhaps he could figure out a way to bend a skateboard. We found out that the best skateboards in the world were made of hard Canadian maple (direct quote from the skateboard shop manager there!). So we arranged to have some shipped to Maui, then the fun began.
Ted instructed the students on cutting out the 1/16” maple veneer sheets into the basic shape of a street deck. Then they created molds by using a (borrowed) deck pressed into a vat of plaster to create the negative shape. Using materials sourced from the local surf-board industry, they created vacuum bags.
Once all that was done, the students were instructed to spread glue on each layer of veneer, stack them onto the plaster molds, and insert them into the vacuum bags. Ted hooked them up to the shops electric pump, flipped the switch and we watched the boards quickly vacuum down over the molds and take on the shape of a street deck! The room went quiet, as we all realized that this had never been done before and it worked. After finishing the edges, sanding and painting, each builder went home to proudly show off their custom hand-made skateboard!
Ted and I wanted to share this method with builders everywhere, but obviously could not possibly travel everywhere to teach it ourselves. A kit seemed to make the most sense, so we spent the next year figuring out how to simplify the process so that we could ship them easily. Once we had a kit together, the budding world-wide-web offered us the ability to set up an online store! (Remember, this was 2002!) So that’s how we created our skateboard company.
What makes your process of building boards special?
Well, nobody in the world had made skateboards using a one-sided foam mold and a vacuum bag! Also, it’s easy to do, inexpensive and very efficient for building custom boards one at a time.
As you lay up each veneer sheet, you can be selective about what veneer you use. You can be sure that each sheet is solid, no huge gaps or holes.
Using this method is great for prototype builds. If you are perfecting a mold shape, build one board, check out the shape, then tweak the foam mold using a scraper. Then keep building and adjusting until you’ve perfected the shape.
What other products do you make/sell?
Our pre-shaped board kits come in various set quantities for Lil’Rockits, Street Deck, Old School, Pintail, City Cruiser, Drop Deck and Dancer shapes. We also have two Multi-board kits that include 8 different template shapes per kit, so you can choose the shape you want to build.
We also provide uncut sheets of veneer in maple, birch and bamboo. Thin Air Press vacuum bags kits come in 6 different sizes, as many more bentwood projects can be made using vacuum pressing (think axe handles, jewellery, guitars, etc.)
Rulers, Mold Masters, Drop Through templates, and a few other tools are also created by us and available on our website.
We don’t sell wheels and trucks, so you’ll have to visit your local shop for the hardware.
Our shop is in mid-town Toronto, visitors are welcome with a little heads-up notice.
Where can people view available products?
What does skateboarding mean to you?
I’m so impressed with people who skateboard, as Ted and I do not! Windsurfing is our board sport and we head off to Maui each year to take advantage of the trade winds.
To me, skateboarding is like windsurfing, where you can get out of it what you want to. It can be a solitary sport, or with friends, you can obsess over every trick and manoeuvre, or just do it for fun.
Seeing other people use our kits to build skateboards is awesome to me. Many builders create their own skateboard brands using our technology and materials. That makes me super-happy!
Anyone you’d like to thank?
As we’re not skateboarders, we’ve always relied on feedback we get from our customers. It has helped us to generate new products, shapes and materials. Every person who has commented, positive or negative, has contributed to our success and we thank them!!