MADE IN EUROPE – part. 1

C’est quoi une marque de boards, après tout ? Un logo, des pros, des vidéos… mais d’où viennent les plateaux ? D’obscures usines en Chine pour la plupart et d’une poignée aux Etats-Unis et au Mexique. Et puis il y a les petits, les artisans du skate qui se sont mis à presser eux-mêmes des planches. Des vraies boards. Voici quelques alternatives, fabriquées en Europe.


Part 1 : NEBEL (Allemagne), ARKAIC (France), BIG AYE (UK)  

What’s a board company, anyway? A logo, pros, videos… but where do the boards come from? Dark factories in China for the most, and a handful ones in the US and Mexico. And you have the small ones, these guys who do it at home, DIY style. Proper boards. Here’s a few alternatives to the big names, made in Europe.


 [highlight]NEBEL SKATEBOARDS (Germany)[/highlight]

When did the first really skatable board come out of your workshop? Peter Sikorski: 2018.

How many boards have you made, so far? About 150. When I started selling them in early 2019, I also started numbering them. Now I’m able to reproduce a certain shape if you give me the number of the board. Anyway, since I started numbering I made 133 boards as of today.

What kind of wood and what kind of glue are you using? I use Canadian hard rock maple. There is no other wood that transports the kick that good. And white glue.

What is « white glue »? Maybe that’s secret? It’s not a secret. I want to see the skateboard world as the opposite to the acting world (my main job) where there is way too much secrecy, rivalry, competition and jealousy. Skateboarding should be about community and fun. White glue is just standard woodworking glue. I’m using a 3d formula which basically just means it’s waterproof. The glue i’m using is a custom-made formula for a carpenter company and it’s made by Henkel. Support your local chemistry factory giant! Where I live carpenters use the glue to laminate doors and windows which are supposed to last a while longer than a skateboard.

Peter_workshopPhoto Jan Vollman

And you’re saying you also have a job as an actor? That’s interesting! Yes ! That’s my actual profession. And I really love it, but there are hard times as a freelancer, from time to time there is no job, and so, to keep me happy I started shaping skateboards. In a way that’s how it started with nebel skateboards. And now I always got something great to do. Acting or shaping.

What’s the difference between your boards and a ‘classic’ board from a well known company? First: my customers are able to choose their own shape. If they’re unhappy with the result or a board isn’t holding up to their quality expectations they can just tell me: the one who glued, pressed and shaped it. Second: I do not lacquer my boards. I use nature wax for finishing which is way better for the environment and myself because it’s not toxic and your board is already waxed too. Third: Nebel skateboards are fresh like an Italian pizza. There isn’t a horrible long flight from China or the US to Europe involved. A lot of boards from big companies are getting dizzy on those long flights. Then they’re kept alone in the dark in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere and most of them get into drinking or worse. When you finally buy them in the shop they need at least a week to fight off the jetlag. All this results in a massive loss of pop and heartbreak. It’s a massboard husbandry problem we see a lot.

How many boards can you make on a daily basis? I could make four. But i usually finish one a day, sometimes two. There should be enough time left to go skate and be with your family. There is always a meal to cook and a tailslide to be done.

How many Skateshops supply your boards? Switch Skateshop Hannover, Search&Destroy skateshop Berlin and Bretterbude Skateshop Erlangen. But the most is directly from me.

Do you make boards for shops or other companies ? No. It’s only Nebel skateboards. There is no time to do so. The only thing I do on top is: shaping boards for Michi Mackrodt… Watch him skate and you know why… It’s my way of giving skateboarding something back.

If you were not making your own boards, which ones would you buy? I guess it would be AntiHero and Welcome. Just because of the team. Not the quality. At least the quality of the big players are not much different.


How are the graphics printed? I don’t print graphics. I like to protect the natural look of the veneer. Sometimes I collaborate with artists like Marcus Bartos, Sergej Vutuc or my son Veit Sikorski. I signature every board with some individual words, though. While shaping the last one I remembered a t-shirt I bought back when I was 14 at La Torche surfshop. I can’t even remember the company name… actually I can. it was Kanabeach! Anyway it had ‘il faut que ça crame’ written on it and since it was a board for Michi I thought it would be a good quote to put on it. My head works in strange ways sometimes.

So Michi’s your main rider? How special is the boards he’s skating? Oh, he’s full of ideas and pushes me to think about and create new shapes. The main thing, I guess, is that he likes a smaller wheelbase about 14″ so he can dance around as fast and easy as he does. He already rode big nose boards, doubletails and whatever else crosses his mind.


[highlight]ARKAÏC SKATEBOARD (France)[/highlight]

Arkaic_2Diego & Flo

Quand est sortie la première board skatable de ton atelier ? Brice Baleydier : La première planche skatable est sortie en octobre 2010 avec la première presse, dix ans bientôt ! On avait mélangé des bois français et du carbone avec un placage acajou ! Elle était assez lourde mais avait le mérite de confirmer les techniques, pour le bowl elle était parfaite.

Combien de boards as-tu fait, jusqu’à aujourd’hui ? C’est comme l’amour on ne compte plus vraiment, l’année dernière on en a produit plus de 1500, l’année d’avant 1000 … Je dirais que 6500 est un bon chiffre. Bref, par chance ça augmente, mais là avec ce satané COVID-19 je ne sais pas trop pour cette année.

Quels bois et quelle colle utilises-tu ? On a plusieurs constructions, comme on le dit souvent nous sommes Eco-process ou éco-friendly, ou éco-responsable… Comme mon métier de base c’est la recherche en procédés et les matériaux, on fait attention à la manière de produire et les matières utilisées. Pour les street après des années à faire en 100% Made in France (bois colle et vernis) on est retourné à l’ Erable Canadien depuis 3 ans qui est le meilleur des bois niveau pop, résistance et régularité des plis (Big Up au puristes !!! ). Par contre pour les cruisers, on reste sur nos modèles haut de gamme en entièrement Made in France. Le bois français est un peu plus flex et cela permet d’avoir une typologie de produit à 200% dans notre philosophie du « local only » à base de produits du terroir. Pour la colle c’est 3 années de recherches et de planches testées du coup c’est un petit secret, tout ce que je peux dire c’est qu’elle est non toxique et dispose d’un certificat alimentaire qui sauve les Licornes !

Quelle différence est-ce qu’il y a entre tes boards et celles produites industriellement ? La différence réelle est qu’on peut produire à l’unité avec ton propre visuel et nos séries sont produites par 10 exemplaires. Ça permet de gérer nos stocks sans surproduction et de vendre bien, donc ne pas pousser à la consommation frénétique du commercial en manque de chiffre d’affaire ! L’avantage également c’est que nos séries évoluent en constance, technique ou graphisme, on essaye de toujours évoluer pour ne jamais produire une seconde série à l’exactitude de la première, sauf quand on se fait dépasser par les clients. Si une série réussit mieux que les autres on la réédite et on ne numérote plus la seconde série, dans le respect de la démarche et du client qui adhère en premier à la série, c’est peut être ça nos valeurs supplémentaires.

Combien de boards est-ce que tu peux faire en une journée ? On peut produire 20 ou 30 planches en une journée mais notre format fait qu’on produit plutôt une ou deux semaines par mois une centaine de planche, car l’activité ne s’ arrête pas qu’aux planches de skateboards et on veut pas être des robots de la production.

Où peut-on trouver tes boards? À notre Show Room à Lyon et sur notre site internet et les sites de nos clients (on en a même en Californie). On a bossé avec les shops des copains également Wall Street, L’Appart, Namasté, ABS… Mais il est super compliqué de respecter les marges en artisanal et made in France. La démarche est complètement différente que les marques présentent en shop, car il ne s’agit pas d’utiliser une base usine et d’apposer un graphique dessus, en suivant une tendance. Nous mettons en avant un savoir faire manuel, car nous pressons, coupons, vernissons et réalisons même nos films de heat-transfert (on est les seuls en France pour le moment il me semble). Le but est une indépendance complète pour valoriser l’objet, et même si la motivation première est le skateshop, c’est compliqué, nos moeurs sont pas prêts, je pense.


Comment procèdes-tu pour les décos ? On a deux solutions : laser et impression heat transfert en quadri HD avec blanc sélectif. On est les seuls en France à fabriquer nos propres films et on peut monter à 600Dpi, c’est une définition que tu ne peux pas trouver en shop et les artistes en raffolent.

Combien vous êtes à bosser sur Arkaic ? On est deux à bosser : Christian aka Diego et moi. Diego m’a aidé depuis le départ et le jour où j’ai pu embaucher je l’ai fait. Trois ans déjà un vrai couple !

Vous bossez à côté ? On vit à temps plein de Arkaic Concept, alors bien-sûr on ne fait pas que des planches car les mentalités, les shops et les prix sont trop durs à concurrencer avec le marché chinois utilisé par les grosses marques, même les plus core…

Si tu devais aller acheter une board aujourd’hui, tu prendrais quoi ? Une Arkaic en 8,5, bien évidement ! Sinon je pourrais craquer pour mes premiers amours Black Label ou Santa Cruz !


[highlight]BIG AYE (UK)[/highlight]

When did the first really skatable board come out of your workshop ? Matt de Vere : I started making deck almost 5 years ago, so id say a month or so after that. Lots of trail and error to get them looking nice.

How many boards have you made, so far ? Id say ive made around 400 skateboards in total, every one of them better than the last!

What kind of wood and what kind of glue are you using ? I use canadian maple veneer, classic seven ply layered up. And I use Titebond 3 exterior wood glue, as its strong and highly recommended!

What’s the difference between your boards and a ‘classic’ board from a well known company ? The difference is that each one of my decks is handmade by just myself, made just for you. Totally bespoke, giving you the option to create your totally custom shape board and design. From wheelbase, nose and tail length, etc.. They are also pressed at the same weight as a mass produced deck, using the same hydraulic press too.

How many boards can you make on a daily basis ? Daily I could make around four or five, but that would be a long day… When I have larger orders I try make two a day, as it’s more relaxing.

How many Skateshops supply your boards ? Only one skateshop sell my boards, but other art related shops sell my boards too. I am not trying to just be 100% skate company, I like to see my brand as something that you don’t have to skate to own one, you can buy and have a wall decor… Its a hard game to compete in and i’d like to go down other routes. Big ups ‘Three Amigos Skateboard Skate shop’ in Camden, London, for stocking my boards!


Do you make boards for shops or other companies? Yes I make boards for other shops and companies. I make decks for brands who use the decks as artwork for their establishments, as well as, small skate companies, electric board companies and electric bike companies…

How do you deal with the graphics? All my graphics are laser engraved lightly into the decks, giving a burnt and permanent graphic in the wood, while not damaging the decks either.

How many people work on this? I work by my self and make skateboards and artwork full time.

If you were not making your own boards, which ones would you buy? I would buy any decks that were built by DIY board makers, rather than leading brands. gotta support the local scene, such as nebel skateboards, nibiru skateboards.. Although Death and Heroin are up there with my favourites!

À suivre / To be continued



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