How to Apply Carbon Fiber

This tutorial goes through in detail, the steps to laminate carbon fiber onto the top and bottom of a skateboard deck. Please check out Cutting Carbon Fiber if you are not familiar with cutting this material before starting this tutorial.

Materials and Tools needed:

 Carbon fiber cloth Supplier

 2 Part Epoxy (with pumps) Supplier

 Release Film Supplier

 Breather Ply Supplier

 Foam roller Supplier (such as Home Depot, Lowes)

 Thin Air Press, preferably the 20×70″ TAP kit

Masking tape, paper towels, rubber gloves, sharp utility knife, mixing stick and tray.

The Tutorial

I am going to laminate two layers of carbon cloth, one on top and one on the bottom of a PINCHed drop board. A pre-preg layer will be added in an upcoming tutorial. The deck has to be sanded smooth (150 sandpaper) with no bumps or ragged edges. Below is the prepped deck. I have left all the edges sharp and not rounded.

Pre-cut all your materials first. This will include:

2 pieces of carbon cloth

2 layers of release ply

2 layers of breather ply

You also will want to have your epoxy, Thin Air Press and masking tape on hand ready to use. Making sure everything is ready is a must when working with composites.

I am using West System epoxy. It is a general duty epoxy and will work fine for this type of laminating. I use 105 resin and 206 hardener. The hardener begins to set in around 45 minutes depending on the air temperature.

When epoxy is in mass, it heats faster than when it is spread thinly, so apply it to your project as quickly as possible. Do not let it sit for long in the mixing pot! Epoxy has to be measured properly, too much hardener and it will heat too quickly. Too little hardener and it will not set properly. The pumps are a good idea as they measure the epoxy precisely. To begin with, I used 8 pumps from each container and mixed them together for at about 60 seconds.

Using the roller, apply an even layer of epoxy onto the bottom surface of your deck. I have added carbon powder to the epoxy which turns the epoxy black. This is not necessary but it helps to prevent the wood colour from showing through the composite. I would not normally use it for most work as it dulls down the nice looking shiny carbon cloth.

Lay the carbon fiber cloth onto the wetted deck. Try to keep it as straight as possible, lengthwise to the deck. An extra set of hands is helpful with this.

Flatten the carbon to the deck and use the roller to get the air bubbles out of the material.

Apply an even coat of epoxy over top of the deck. Wet it out completely.

Lay the layer of release film onto the wet carbon cloth. Try to keep it straight.

Press the material down until it conforms to the shape of the deck. Again, use the roller to get the air bubbles out. Pull any wrinkles straight. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves (unlike what you see me doing)

Lay the breather ply down. Pat it down so it conforms to the deck surface.

Carefully flip the deck over. Try not to shift the carbon layer.

Apply an even coat of epoxy onto the entire deck.

Lay the second piece of carbon cloth onto the wet deck.

Evenly wet out the carbon cloth with the roller.

Lay the release film down and flatten it to the deck with the roller.

Pat it down flat.

Lay the last layer of breather ply down.

Using masking tape, apply pieces around the deck, taping every 6-8 inches as shown. This will hold the loose material together when putting it in the TAP bag.

Place the deck into the TAP bag. One way of doing this is to open the bag fully by blowing air into it with a vacuum cleaner. While standing on a chair, carefully lower your project from above into the bag which the other person holds open.

Keep your hands clean during this step. Do not get epoxy on the sealing tape or close to the opening of the TAP bag as the sealing tape will not stick properly if even a small amout of epoxy gets on it. Use plain white vinegar to clean your hands (not the bag), it removes epoxy really well!

Seal your TAP bag. Use the vacuum cleaner to evacuate the bulk of the air then use the manual pump to pull the remaining air out. Be sure to position the valve off the deck but over the breather ply right beside the deck. This ensures that the air can get out but will not make a mark on the top of your smooth carbon area.

This is what it should look like once the air has been removed.

In a couple of minutes, check to see if the vacuum is still holding tightly. If any air has leaked in, check and re-press the sealing tape first.

The epoxy will start to harden in a couple of hours. Leave your project in the bag for at least 8 hours.

Removing the excess material

You will need to peel away the release film and breather ply after removing your project from the TAP bag. This take a fair amount of pulling, and sometimes cutting along the edge of the deck.

Looking good!

It is time to clean up the edges of the deck. A sharp utility knife works great. The epoxy/carbon cloth it is very sharp. Be careful!

Trim as close to the edge of the deck as possible.

Using a file or coarse sandpaper with a sanding block, remove the remaining carbon to the edge of the deck.

It should look something like this when done.

On the bottom, I later added a pre-preg carbon layer. I made this by laminating it on a sheet of glass. Tutorial will follow soon.

That is about all you need to know to laminating carbon fiber to a deck! Most of the work is in cutting the material and getting everything prepped.

Ted from Roarockit

Comments

  • edward arfman  On December 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    vary informative and simpel i am currently experimenting with deck design and it is always good to get more info i got my first board in 1974(a black knight)and im leaning into the retro area vary hard but i also am into downhill design and torpedos/crusers with board inspiered by guys like stacy perralta and tony alva.im also checking hollow wooden surfboard sites and air craft material for more ideas.perhaps you would be interested in a titainium honey comb material called hex cell between two sheets of composite cloth.i dont know if this can be done with a thin air bag and not a heated press im also not sure of the resealeance qualitys with out testing it out .if you get into it please post your resaults.thanx fer ur time.edward

    • gilbert  On April 20, 2013 at 1:44 am

      Edward- your idea of the honeycomb will work. Actually it would give the deck more strength. But the only thing is the honeycomb has to be placed on the bottom of fhe deck. Designs can be made with the honeycomb, but it also depends on which one you use, the plastic, metal, cardboard, or even foam they all work and they give anything a sharp look. But I wouldn’t cruise a board with all that work done to it. Also it can be placed in the bag and heated. The heating actually makes the curing move faster but its almost like tempering steel. It would give strength to the deck. Anything is possible. We just have to experiment.

  • Anthony  On January 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    How do I get one

  • Celine Sale  On April 8, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds als

  • michael zeffertt  On April 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Hi there . Really liked your tutorial . I’m a wood worker that designs & makes chairs & furniture in south Africa . Im looking at incorporating carbon fiber especially into chair construction . I like the strait forward , clear & concise way you went about your demo . Thanks & eager to see more . All the best , Michal

  • gilbert  On April 20, 2013 at 1:33 am

    What’s going on buddy, I work on aircrafts and I love what you did with that deck. I’m 27 I live in San Antonio TX. I had a board that my cousin sold me, and I still can get some pop off the deck but I’m a little to old to be doing that. My teenage years are over, if you know what I mean. Well to make a long story short I completely stripped the board and sanded it with 100grit then I used ultra clean or easy cleano to remove excess dirt and grease. I did almost the same set up as yours but I used a composite vacuum we use on the aircrafts and I can say it came out amazing. After I let the deck sit for a day so it could cure. And then I cut the excess carbon off and used a file to round out the edges of the deck. After I used the matrix ( resin + hardner) same as your set up. And I used it to clear coat the deck and it came out beautiful. Now I am just water sanding the imperfections with 400grit waterproof sand paper then I am going to add another coating of the matrix to give it a clean look. If you want pictures let me know. I just want to thank you because I have had this on my mind and I stumbled on your website and I took advantage of it and did it the way I do work on aircrafts.

  • Tristan scheirs  On June 11, 2014 at 4:51 am

    Hello just wondering where you ordered your carbon fibre from because I’m trying to make a board and I can’t find any online.

    • roarockit  On June 13, 2014 at 4:44 am

      Try a fiberglass supply company or do a search for carbon fiber online.

  • fd  On June 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    thanks for tips

  • Alexander Barringer  On July 29, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Great post, besides the sleek aesthetic and weather protection what other applications or purposes does this have? I mean does it give the board added stability (considering the properties of carbon fiber)? Would it be advisable or worthwhile to add sheets of carbon fiber between plys when gluing a deck?

    • roarockit  On November 15, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Best place for carbon fibre is on the bottom of the deck. It will prevent the wood from stretching along its length which will make the board much stronger.

Trackbacks

  • By Peel ply and breather cloth on February 24, 2013 at 5:44 am

    […] use google How to Apply Carbon Fiber | Ministry of Wood, Skateboard Builder Directory […]

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