Surf board shaper Erik Baldwin built a career out of his love of the ocean, technical know-how, and building things by hand. His boards are a combination of old fashioned hand-craft, 3D scanning, CNC machining, and hella stoke.


Yes, Erik makes beautiful boards. But more than that, we love the fact that he’s managed to make a career out of the things he loves. His job requires an intuitive grasp of fluid dynamics, an eye for design, the patience and attentiveness of a craftsman, and the technical savvy of a machinist.

Erik says he was always “fascinated with technical things,” but he’s never been satisfied with doing just one thing at a time. His frenetic energy let him juggle multiple jobs, business ideas, and hobbies, all of which seemed to center around the ocean. Over time he noticed that the custom surf board shaping industry was slow to adopt new technologies and manufacturing techniques, and he made it his mission to combine the craft of bespoke board design with the efficiency of 3D scanning and CNC technology.

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The real deal

As a surf board shaper at KKL Machine he devoted himself to streamlining the precision manufacture of custom board designs from hand-shaped blanks using custom scanning and cutting processes.

This is no lemonade stand. KKL has 10,000 square feet in Carlsbad with a 40,000 board per year capacity, and partner shops in Japan, Australia, South Africa, Florida, Hawaii, and France. They use custom machine fixtures designed specifically for cutting boards, and work with a range of materials with impressive repeat-ability. As an employee, Erik contributed meaningfully to the evolution of that business.

These days Erik’s decided to take a break from shaping, and instead focus on optical restoration with his father.


We’ll be interviewing Erik about the technical details of his design and manufacturing process, and we want to ask him your questions. Ask your questions in the comments (or whatever), and we’ll be sure to ask him in the follow up piece.

By the way, this video is the first in what we hope will be a series of shorts about people who’ve built successful careers doing what they love: designing and building amazing products. If you like it, and you want to see more stuff like this in the future, be sure to let us know. We always like the feedback and, ahem, so do potential sponsors (wink, wink).