20-year-old Justin Den Dulk is reshaping the surf industry

Justin Den Dulk in the fitness bay. Photo courtesy of Justin Den Dulk.

If you saw twenty-year-old Justin Den Dulk walking down the street, you would think it would be safe to assume that he grew up on water. He has beach blonde hair and a laid back disposition. He surfs regularly and he rocks. And, although he was recently promoted from his teenage years, he already has his own brand of surfboards: Dagger Surfboards.

Originally from San Clemente, Den Dulk didn’t start surfing until he was fourteen. His parents didn’t surf and he rarely went to the beach. But, in 2016, he saw a YouTube video on how to paint the bottom of your surfboard and was captivated by the design. So he decided to take up surfing.

“I started surfing, got my first board, and a month later I wanted to learn all about surfing,” Den Dulk recalls. “I was addicted to the whole wave surfing scenario.”

A month or two into his surfing journey, Den Dulk rang his board and went to Bashams to buy the supplies he needed to repair his board. While in the store he noticed some guys shaping boards and was intrigued. He asked one of them if they would be willing to teach him and luckily he said yes.

Former pro longboarder and shaper Chris Schlickenmeyer took young Den Dulk under his wing and showed him the ropes of shaping. He taught Den Dulk the basics and showed him how to look at curves and lines to achieve a symmetrical shape.

Justin Den Dulk, practicing what he preaches. Photo courtesy of Justin Den Dulk.

“I picked it up pretty quickly,” says Den Dulk. “At least that’s what people say. The learning curve was quite natural, but I had a very good mentor.

For his first board, Den Dulk shaped a 5’2″ with six channels in the bottom. According to Den Dulk, a channel bottom board is one of the hardest shapes to make and most are just waiting to be more versed. in the art of shaping before attempting extreme design, but Den Dulk was keen to tackle it the first time around.

“It went well,” says Den Dulk. “I had a few ideas and Chris showed me how to use the planer, hand tools and how to get my rail right – I was super happy. If that board didn’t turn the way it did , I don’t know if I would still be shaping.

The following week, Den Dulk shaped two more boards. After shaping a few boards at Bashams, the teenager made a makeshift shaping bay in his parents’ garden where he continued to shape his next 55 boards. After that he redid it, adding a few improvements, and fashioned another hundred before moving to a more permanent location.

From the start, Den Dulk wanted to have some kind of brand on their boards. He branded the first fifteen boards as “Ancient Surfboards” before moving on to the name he still shapes today: Dagger Surfboards. In Dutch, Den Dulk means “of the dagger”, so the name seemed appropriate.

The final touch. Photo courtesy of Justin Den Dulk.

After marking his boards, transforming his work into a business came naturally. In the beginning, Den Dulk would buy a blank, shape a board, sell it to Used Surf, then use his earnings to make another board. After fifteen or twenty boards, he was given the shape of his first board: a 10’6” log. From there, things started to take off.

“Because I hadn’t really surfed much, I thought the best way to progress in surfing was to understand everything about how to build a surfboard,” says Den Dulk. “For the past two years, I’ve really been looking to make it something that’s sustainable and something that’s going to improve the surf industry.”

When it comes to creating a board, Den Dulk does it all, from start to finish. First, he buys a flan. Then he goes to his shaping bay and draws the outline of the board he wants to shape before cutting the outline. Then he takes the planer and planes the top and bottom of the board to the desired thickness. After that he shapes the rail and the foil of the board before putting the concaves in the bottom of the board. Finally, he goes into lamentation where he lays fiberglass on the board, a hot coat, then sands it, before delivering the finished product.

Although Den Dulk is competent enough to shape a wide range of boards, his specialty is performance shortboards. His goal is to shape boards for pros or people who really want to progress in their surfing. Although his company is still young, Den Dulk has already had a few professional surfers order his boards and plans to have a team at Dagger Surfboards one day.

“I want to make the best high performance shortboards in the world,” says Den Dulk. ” That’s the point. I really want to push the boundaries of what’s possible with different board constructions – how to make them lighter, stronger, and perform better in small waves and big waves.

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