In the Workshop with New England-based Tidal Roots Boards
I caught up with Kyle Schaefer co-founder of Tidal Roots, who crafts handmade wooden stand-up paddle boards in Rollinsford, New Hampshire.
EB: What inspired you to start making stand up paddle boards?
KS: Kent (my co-founder) and I both approach life with a “think different” attitude. With stand-up paddle boarding growing like crazy across the world, we both saw an opportunity. After borrowing a paddle board from a friend and getting some quality fishing days on it, we were sold! We went to the drawing board and began our first northern white cedar prototypes.
EB: What type of experience can someone expect when using your boards on the water?
KS: Stand-up paddle boarding gives you the ability to almost walk on water. The feeling of standing on a board, gliding across ocean reefs in the expansive wilderness of the North Atlantic, is a feeling that I can’t quite describe. Every moment that you step on your board, you turn yourself over to the natural world where you are no longer in full control.
EB: Tell me a little bit about the process. From selecting the wood to being water ready, what goes into the making of each board?
KS: Every board starts as a tree several hours north of Portland, Maine in a northern white cedar grove. Each tree is harvested, processed, and selected with specific qualities in mind to make the perfect board. We take the cedar back to our workshop at the Salmon Falls Mills, that sits on the banks of the Salmon Falls River in Rollinsford, New Hampshire. Our workshop is rich with history, as we walk on the same floors that textile workers walked on back in the early 1800s. Now comes the fun part: we mill the cedar into specific dimensions for our top and bottom decks, and also for the sides of the board, plus the nose and tail. We have five different models – for different types of paddlers and situations. We then spend hours shaping, adding accessories, sanding, and finishing with fiberglass to make the perfect board. Some boards get wood-burned art as requested by customers and some have specific accessory layouts, to best suit the needs of our adventurous customers. We build our boards custom for sure, but we also produce our stock models to sell to our customers right off the shelf. I’m certainly simplifying the process here but you can tell that a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears goes into each board.
EB: Our favorite and final question, what are you grateful for?
KS: As each year goes on some of the things that I am grateful for change, but there are always a lot of things that stay constant in my life as a source of gratitude. Moments of peace are pretty high on the list – add family, friends, my dog and time outside and that’s Heaven on earth. With all of that said, I am grateful for reflecting on these things everyday and keeping them close and dear to me.
Check out some of Kyle and Kent’s Stand Up Paddle Boards here.
Images courtesy of Tidal Roots.