CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — On the second floor of his North Albany home, Chris Bryant has a room filled with boards — surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and body boards — displayed on all four walls.
"I call it my boardroom," he said.
Bryant, 34, uses recycled wood to handcraft his boards and paddles.
Working in a friend's shop, Bryant makes the boards similar to the way an airplane wing is constructed: He builds the board's frame, which he likens to a spine and ribs, gluing the pieces together. He then steams the wood to give it the proper curve and wraps the wood around the frame, clamping and gluing the pieces in place.
"I love working with wood," Bryant said.
Three years ago, Bryant and his wife, Sara, took a trip to Hawaii, where they tried stand-up paddleboarding. A derivative of surfing that involves standing up on a surfboard and using a long-handled paddle to move through the water, it's becoming a popular way to explore rivers and lakes.
"We both loved it, and Sara asked me, 'Do you think you can make one?'" he said. He tried, succeeded, and fell in love with the craft. He said at the time he wasn't very good at paddleboarding.
"You know how they say those who can't do teach? Well, I couldn't do it, so I built them," he said. "I instantly fell in love with it."
Previously a construction worker specializing in cabinetry, Bryant now works at Hewlett-Packard, where he is a technician.
"Now I work with metal, but I've always been a woodworker," he said.
The hollow-core wooden surfboards weigh a pound or two more than their conventional fiberglass counterparts, he said, but the added weight makes them faster in the water.
Bryant collects the wood mostly from friends who work in construction, then makes the boards bit by bit. About 90 percent of the materials he uses for his creations are recycled.
"This one's made out of my mother-in-law's deck, and this one's made entirely out of cedar. I just kept saving up pieces," he said, pointing to two of his creations. "I pretty much use anything."
He has recently started a retail operation, Barefoot Boards, and sells his products online at barefoot-boards.com for prices between $1,900 and $2,200.
Although he's created a side business out of it, Bryant said that making the boards is still a hobby and a labor of love. The greatest benefit, however, has been sharing his interest with his family— his 9-year-old stepdaughter, Alexis Tracy, has taken up boarding.
"We sail all summer and take the boards with us," he said. "We're a water family."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press