What’s your full name, where are you from, and how long have you been shaping for?
Michael Becker, from Oakdale, NY, and been shaping for 27 years.
Who else is on the team at NaturesShapes?
We have a team of great people that do the glassing, painting, sanding, graphic printing, etc.
Our glasser, Eddie Fawess, is in the Surfing Hall of Fame and has been glassing boards in NY since the early 1960s. Ed can be seen most days at Ditch Plains ripping on a bright red longboard.
Edgar Lituma is one of our most loved and loyal employees. He does a lot of the art but also does a little bit of everything within the board building process. He is usually stand up paddle surfing at Gilgo.
Although I started off doing all of the steps myself, the board building process is very labor intensive and requires a lot more than just my time. I am very grateful to have a team of craftsmen.
How long have you been surfing for? How long after starting to surf did you start to shape?
This summer will be my 30th summer surfing! Started at 13 and began shaping at 16.
What and/or who got you into shaping? Did you start out intending to go professional with it or was it a hobby that turned into a business?
My mother inspired me to shape. She purchased me classic books from the 1970s on how to build a surfboard. I then started building boards in my backyard shed. She wanted me to read more and all I cared about was surfing and creating with my hands. I never thought it would turn from a hobby into a business.
How are your boards different from other shapers’? Can you tell us more about the design process? The art process?
Our boards are different from others because we build shapes that are proven to work in our conditions. They are well rounded versatile shapes. A lot of shapers create retro boards or have a gimmick they like to promote. We try not to follow the masses and just stick to what we know works.
We also have the technology to copy any board from any era. We scan the board and then can duplicate it on our CNC machine.
Another great feature we now offer is full graphic printing. We recently purchased a large format machine that we custom engineered to print directly to fiberglass. This allows our customers to send us any graphic to be printed that can be a small signature or wrap the entire board.
The use of our mobile board app also helps customers design their new board on their mobile device and then get exactly what they have designed.
What’s the process for starting a custom project with you?
Most customers like to stop by the store when they place a custom board order. It’s nice to speak in person about what their ability is and what they are looking for exactly. However, we take orders via e-mail also, or customers can call the shop directly.
Customers can also e-mail me with ideas, and I call them back once they are ready to place the order.
What’s your favorite shape to shape? Least favorite?
I love to shape shorter fuller-volume shortboards because it makes me motivated to create one for myself.
I honestly still love shaping and love getting challenging projects!
In your opinion, what’s the best board you’ve ever made? Who owns it now?
One of the best boards I have ever shaped is a solid balsa wood gun that I have hanging in my shop. It was surfboard #1000 for me and is very special. I made the entire board without any machines, which is how I built my first 5 boards back in 1993-1994–all by hand with no electric tools.
Have you shaped for any famous surfers? Celebs? If so, who? And what’d you make them?
As far as pro surfers go, we’ve shaped boards for Australian pro Damien Wills, who made it through the Tahiti Teahupoo trials a few years back. We built an art board for Kobe Bryant and have built boards for Bethany Frankel.
What’s the craziest request you’ve ever had in your shaping career?
Someone from out east years ago had me hand shape a board that looks like a giant guitar! He actually rode it at Turtles Cove in large surf!
What’s your favorite break on LI? Will you share a secret spot with us?
My favorite break is Smith’s point. It’s not always the best but we have a nice close-knit group of regulars. My favorite secret spot is wherever the break has shifted to on Fire Island that season.
What’s the best way for new customers to get in touch with you?
The best way is always e-mail: email@example.com. I am in and out of the store and the factory a lot but will always write or call them back ASAP.