There are surf shops by the dozen in San Diego, but only one that allows you to walk out with an item entirely your own—a custom-shaped surfboard that you’ve crafted, ready to hit the water. A bit off the beaten path and away from the beach, Shaper Studios is a hidden gem.

Professional surfers, amateurs and world-famous musicians alike (we mean Foster the People) are welcome here to give shaping a go. Private or buddy lessons help you get started, and after one full shaping session in their space, you’ll be ready to return and create another board without much assistance.

Chris Clark, founder of the space, originally was creating boards for big name brands—he loved the job, but was never creating exactly what he wanted. He also wanted to give others the chance to experience the same feeling of creating a board (from our observations, it seems very therapeutic), then taking it right to the ocean.

At their studio, anyone shaping a board has access to any board template, which is often unheard of in the shaping industry. Board shapes are often passed down from shaper to shaper, something kept more secretive.

In addition to shaping, visitors can now also glass their own board, which means it’s entirely customizable in terms of it’s appearance. We spotted a classic white board, a board hand painted with sea monsters, and one designed by member of Foster the People covered in pink fabric with a black horse print. There really are no limits!

Shaper Studios seemed to include everything we hoped to encounter in California—surf culture, incredibly nice people and a laid back atmosphere.

Photos by Collin Hughes

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