Archive - December 2014

Skateboard Bearings Explained

skateboard bearings

Skateboard Bearings Explained

All skateboard wheels are mounted on your truck axle with bearings, so the right skateboard bearings are an integral part of any setup. Learning the inner workings of a bearing will help any rider better understanding how their board functions while under their feet.

Bearing Parts

All skateboard bearings are made of of the same basic parts: balls, retainers, shields, lubricant and the outer and inner rings.

Ball Bearings

There are anywhere from 5-7 balls inside a skate bearing. These balls are what allow the bearing case to rotate and in turn allow your wheels to spin! Standard skateboard bearings are 608 stainless steel with an 8mm inner diameter. This will fit any standard skate truck axle.

Ceramic balls claim to be higher performance than steel balls.


Bearing shields protect the interior of your bearings from dirt, water and all the other junk you’ll encounter while skating. This keeps your wheels spinning with no interruption. Shields are usually removable to allow for cleaning of and maintainance of the inner parts of the bearing like the balls and retainer. Keeping your bearings clean is crucial! Shields are usually made of steel or softer nylon rubber.


Ball retainers hold the balls of the bearing in place and ensure proper spacing is maintained. Keep your retainers clean, along with the other components in your bearings, and you’ll get more life out of them as well as better performance. Retainers are often also referred to as cages or crowns.


Oil, grease and “speed cream” are the most commonly used lubricants. Lubricant will keep your ball bearings rolling smoothly. Riding your bearings without any lubricant at all can cause them to function improperly and even seize up during use. Not fun!

Inner and Outer Rings

The inner and outer rings encase the bearings, retainer and lubricant we’ve already discussed. The inner ring is the portion of the bearing that will contact the axle of the skateboard truck.

ABEC Ratings

Many choose to purchase their skateboard bearings based on the ABEC ratings of the bearings in question but in reality this number has little to do with how well your bearings will perform. Technically, ABEC ratings refer to established standards in size and tolerance as they relate to other components. Translation? The ABEC rating of your skateboard bearings will not affect the speed, durability, cleanliness or quality of your bearings.

Want to learn more? ABEC Ratings Explained

Breaking in Bearings

Many skaters refer to bearings as having a “break-in” period. As skate bearings are used, over time the balls will wear small channels within the interior of the races (rings). This changes the surface contact between the balls and the race which in turn leads to faster roll speed and more consistent performance. If you just bought new bearings, give them time! You can expect them to be in their prime a week or two of riding.

Bearing Spacers



  • Clean your bearings! Try something like a Bones Cleaning Kit to make this process simple and fast.
  • ABEC ratings do not relate to how well your bearings will perform.

Building a Bamboo Longboard

Bamboo Longboard

A bamboo longboard can be a great choice for any rider. Bamboo is a renewable resource that is not only good for the environment but is great for skating! Bamboo can be using in building a longboard that is snappy, responsive, and great for carving. Bamboo has a great strength to weight ratio and is often combined with maple or fiberglass to enhance specific performance characteristics. Technically a grass, not a wood, bamboo matures and can be harvested in a fraction of the time as maple, birch, or other commonly used woods. Skateboards have become one of the leading causes of maple deforestation which makes bamboo the eco-friendly choice!

When building a bamboo longboard the primary difference from other layups is often the challenge of sourcing the material.


If it’s simply the bamboo aesthetic you hope to achieve,

Looking to simply buy a bamboo longboard? Many companies make decks that incorporate bamboo. Arbor Skateboards, Sector 9 Skateboards, Rayne Longboards and DB Longboards are just a few of the brands that utilize bamboo in their longboard designs. Other companies, like Bamboo Skateboards, have made the benefits of bamboo as a material the cornerstone of their brand.

Building a Plywood Longboard

Plywood Longboard

Building a Plywood Longboard

If you’re building your very first longboard or just want to quickly make a simple deck, building a plywood longboard could be the right choice for you! This is the fastest, easiest way to build a longboard.

Materials  Needed:

  • Plywood 1/4″
  • Wood Glue
  • Concrete
  • 4″x 4″ Lumber
  • Spray acrylic

Tools Needed:

  • Jigsaw
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Clamps
  • Sandpaper
  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Measuring Tape


Step #1: Collect your Materials and Tools

See the above lists for the materials and tools you’ll need to collect before you begin building. You shouldn’t have any issue finding these items at your local store or online. Certain items can potentially be substituted for others which will be further outlined in the applicable section.

Step #2: Pick your shape

What do you want your board to look like? One of the great parts about building a longboard is getting creative with the shape! While it’s hard to go TOO wrong, keep in mind that your board shape will definitely influence the way it rides. Try sketching out a few ideas on a piece of paper before you even think about cutting. Once you have a design you’re confident in it’s time to draw it on your laminated plywood boards. Be sure to use a measuring tape to ensure that your board outline is even and symmetrical. This will be the template you’ll follow when cutting out your deck later on.

For ideas on different shapes check out our information on Longboard Shapes or take a peek at the Inspiration page!

Step #2: Laminate your deck

For the purposes of this guide, I recommend using three sheets of quarter inch plywood to achieve a relatively stiff, sturdy deck, but try experimenting with different thickness and more or less sheets of plywood to achieve different performance characteristics. Some riders like a stiff deck while a flexible deck is more preferable for others.

Step #3: Bend your wood

Lay your laminated board end to end on top of your 4″x 4″ blocks (or other level, solid objects). Mix enough concrete to fill about half of  in the five gallon bucket and let it set. Use this a weight to bend your plywood by placing it in the center of your outline. The bend will create the rocker or camber of your deck, depending which way you choose to mount the board. Leave it in this position for 2-3 days minimum. The longer the deck is bend into this position to better it will retain it’s curvature.

Step #4: Cut and sand

Using the jigsaw, carefully cut out your board following the penciled outline as closely as possible. Now you have your deck! Sand over the edges of the board until comfortably round (though many riders choose to keep a sharp edge for downhill or freeriding decks).

Step #5: Drilling


Step #6: Finishing

Since this particular method of building is oriented towards being a quick process, try using spray paint for your artwork. Use some stencils for geometric designs or spray freehand and see where it takes you! Let this dry and follow up by spraying the entirety of the board with the acrylic to help protect it from the benefits.

Step #7: Add components

Longboard Building Resources

Building Resources Skateboard Decks

Longboard Building Resources

There are tons of longboard building resources for scattered around the internet. Here are some of our favorites:

Downhill Longboarding

Downhill Longboarding

Downhill Longboarding

Downhill longboarding is the fastest growing segment of skateboarding. When the New York Times takes notice, that’s definitely news!


The major governing bodies of the dowhhill race circuit are the IGSA (International Gravity Sports Association) and the IDF (International Downhill Federation).



Longboard Brands: Arbor Longboards

Arbor Longboards

Arbor Longboards

“Build Things and Ride Them”

We couldn’t agree more. Since 1995 Arbor Skateboards has had the right attitude, bringing their culture of quality woodcraft to a wide variety of skateboard shapes.