The skateboard deck is the actual board of the skateboard. Although you may think a skateboard is simply a piece of wood with axles and wheels attached underneath, this is not the case. While the deck is usually made of plywood, today there are many choices of skateboard deck materials. Most beginners are fine with plywood, but as you get more involved in skateboarding, you may want to upgrade your deck to one of the following types.
Composites, aluminum, nylon, fiberglass, resin, Kevlar, Plexiglas, and other artificial materials are being experimented with to increase the rigidity of the skateboard deck. The main issue that many have found with these designs is that the deck requires some flexibility to perform tricks and other maneuvers. Also, these materials can make decks too heavy to use. Some experimental designs use artificial materials to form a honeycomb design inside a wooden exterior. Inexpensive decks may be made simply of plastic.
Even if you opt for a simple plywood deck, you still have several options. Most plywood decks are made of maple, laminated together with glue. The grain of each wood layer is laid in an alternating direction, so that the deck cannot split along the natural grain of the wood. The main difference here is between 7-ply board and 9-ply boards. 7-ply have seven thin sheets of wood laminated together, while 9-ply have nine sheets. The 9-ply decks are thicker and heavier, which can make it more difficult to manipulate the board.
Most skateboard decks measure about 32 inches long and 8 inches wide, and are roughly rectangular or oval in shape. Longer boards are better for downhill or street riding, as well as transportation, while shorter ones make it easier to use skateboard parks and perform tricks. However, the length of the board is not nearly as important as the width.
If you are very tall, choose a wider deck, as it can help you feel proportionate while riding the board. On the other hand, a wider deck will also give beginners stability as they learn to balance on the skateboard. The dimensions of the board may vary depending on intended use, so decide whether you want to use your board mainly on streets, in skate parks and bowls, or as transportation. A deck that is too skinny will be hard to use because your feet may hand over the edge of the board, reducing your stability. On the other hand, a larger deck may be too difficult to control during tricks.
After the laminated boards are shaped into a skateboard, holes for the truck mount are drilled, and the board is coated with paint or sealant. Grip tape may then be placed on the top of the deck, although some manufacturers leave this step for the user. Most decks also include a large logo of the manufacturer.
Decks also differ in their angles depending on the intended use. Decks are not straight across and flat. All decks rise slightly at both ends. The amount of curvature and the shape of the front and back are designed specifically for different uses; a bigger curve will give more leverage, making it easier to perform more tricks.