Skateboards could perhaps be the most eco-friendly mode of transportation after walking. Their simple design and lightweight construction make them easy to carry, and they use less than one-tenth of the material required to make a typical bike (you can even recycle them). Designer and craftsman Erik Maki realized this while a student at University of California San Diego, and it soon became his passion. Now, his eponymous company, Maki Longboards, is changing the look and feel of the art of skateboarding.
Photo by Jobi Manson
Longboard skateboards are a familiar sight at UCSD, but Erik Maki wanted more out of his board – not just in appearance, but in feel. He used his woodworking skills, education (a minor in environmental studies), and his love of surfing to develop a board that looked and rode more like a surfboard, something he had always wanted but never found from the big skateboard companies.
Inspired by the classic balsa surfboards of the 1950s and ’60s, Erik Maki’s designs pay homage to this timeless style by using minimal graphics and sourcing only the highest quality wood and materials. All Maki decks are made of FSC certified hard rock maple and American red oak, and the graphics are applied using a specialized process using natural fiber laminates and a bio-based epoxy resin called Entropy SuperSap. The epoxy itself is derived from pine sap (instead of petroleum), and is used for its durability, strength, and flexibility – all of which are ideal for longboard skateboards. To achieve the maneuverable, smooth, surfboard-like ride underneath, Maki uses USA made Carver hardware, which was specifically developed to provide a surf-like skate experience.
Erik Maki constantly asks himself how he can minimize his impact on the environment. He creates key chains and other smaller products from the scrap pieces of lumber around the shop. He also reuses the cardboard boxes from shipped materials and makes hangtags for his boards and apparel. Maki explains, “I enjoy working towards better, more sustainable alternatives because I want to make products that will not only last longer, but create as small of an environmental footprint as possible.”
Lead image by Jeff Berting