design forum

Enjoy Handplanes

The most fun you can have with fins on

| posted on May 22, 2014

If you live near a beach with hollow shorepound, you’ve likely noticed a rise in the amount of handplane-wielding, fin-wearing bodysurfers in the last few years. The ride-anything ethos is in full swing, and that anything has recently come to include the humble handplane. They’re not a new toy though; bodysurfers have used hand held planing aids for decades, with varying swings in popularity.

Since 2010, Ed Lewis and Kipp Denslow of Enjoy Handplanes have been making and selling some of the best handplanes out there from their spot in Leucadia. They got their start after hanging out with surfing shaman John Peck who’d just begun using handplanes himself. “I kept thinking that if John (Peck) was that stoked on it, it must be fun,” said Lewis. Denslow and Lewis soon made their own handplane and fell in love instantly. “I took that first one out on a blown out day and had so much fun that I stopped stand-up surfing for three months and just bodysurfed,” Lewis remembered. “I was like a kid again.”

Enjoy handplanes come in a variety of lengths, from 12″ to 17″, and with a ton of tail shapes, including round tails, diamond tails, and swallow tails. Really though, the tail shapes don’t matter all that much. It’s the length and width of the handplane that actually dictate how fast the rider goes.

Their little boards are really just a cool form of recycling. They use the foam from old broken surfboards, offcuts from shapers, or messed-up blanks from the manufacturers. They’ll cut you a deal on a new handplane if you trade in an old busted-up board you don’t want anymore. Once shaped, their handplanes are glassed with bio-based resins from Bay Area-based Entropy Resins. The handstraps are recycled too, made from old wetsuits. Lately they’ve even been messing around with boards made with agricultural waste.

Lewis and Denslow didn’t really expect to start a full-blown handplane business. They just had so much fun on their tiny pieces of surf craft, people noticed and wanted in too. “All my friends took notice of all the fun I was having and they all started wanting one,” said Lewis. Then people from all over the world started asking us for them and the business grew—it was unreal.”

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Nice video, handplanes are a good fun alternative sometimes

  • Jfgr8ful

    Love this! I want!

  • Charles

    Super cool video! role model this is! Loved it!

  • steevewhitehead.

    I first started building my own hand planes in the 1980s, and having looked at the local surf conditions I decided to redesign improve and revisit body surfing, having surfed all kinds of surf craft I can honestly say I am having 200% of the fun I would have had riding boards. My own hand planes have a built in cradle for the forearm, which allows stresses from bad wipe outs and take offs to be transferred into the forearm rather than having the wrist go into hyper-flexation and possibly breaking. This idea was a safety system which I developed for free fall take offs into a wave in South Australia which breaks over sand and would look like a cross between pipeline and Teaupoo for hollowness. A strap system which I developed maintains the plane on the hand even during the most severe of floggings. Other models I have built also have a single surf board fin on the bottom which allows you to ride higher and tighter to the wave, but requires more technique and safety management especially for wipe out situations. Dropping through the waves roof, sliding into position and being shot like a bullet down the line, what a buzz, if adrenalin is your thing, you should try it. I advise some kind of groan protection for the male anatomy if you are surfing over 12 feet wave face.

    • Duc

      Would love to see your forearm design. Any pics online?

      My favorite part of any surf trip typically ends up being finding some shorepound and beating the hell out of myself.

      • steevewhitehead.

        I have no online shots, but here is my email, just make a note about hand planes and I will attach pics and the location of a serious world class south Aussie pipe over sand. I live in West oz now, but there is no reason you could not go get the waves there, the barrel is 325 long right hander. steevewhitehead@yahoo.com.au

  • Charles

    Super cool and inspirational! Role model this is!