Whether you get your information from You Tube, Google, your friends or some random "how to" skate video, there is a ton out there on the "correct" way to build your skateboard. I wanted to give a bit of information on how a new skater's skateboard can be made. I want it to be noted that I say "CAN" be made, rather than "SHOULD" be made. There is no correct way when you talk about sizes and what is best. Only you can decide what is best for you. I will just give some information to help you base your opinions off of but in the end, your personal preference is the end all.
So, what size is best and how do I even know what "size" means? If you have never been on a skateboard before, these are very valid questions. As stated above, your personal preference is truly what is best but, let's base things off of the Schlaudie team. Both Richard and Rick skate size 8.0. Andres "Z" skates 8.25, Kevin skates 8.25, Brandon skates 8.38 and I have recently gone up from 8.25 to 8.38. Schlaudie also produces 8.13 and 8.50 decks.
When speaking about board sizes, you are talking about the width of the deck. The deck, of course being the wood. Decks can be as small as 7.50 inches and can go as wide as 10 inches. I am pretty sure if you search far and wide enough, you can find even thinner and wider than that. The original skateboards of the Z-boys where only a few inches wide and were more closely related to a 2x4 than a modern day skateboard.
With so many sizes, how do you even know what size to get? I recommend that you start off with the quarter inch sizes and make small adjustments from there as you get more comfortable with your skating. When I say quarter inch sizes, I mean 7.75, 8.0, 8.25 and 8.50. You should not go beyond 8.50 when just getting started. Right at the beginning, your board size should go more based off of your personal shoe size than anything. You want the skateboard to be comfortable under your feet with the majority of your foot on the board when you are standing on it. I do recommend that you stand on the board and feel how comfortable you are on it prior to purchase but, some people do not have that ability so the basic size recommendation can be used to assist with your selection.
If you wear up to a size 9.0 shoe a 7.50 to 8.0 skateboard can be ridden comfortably. If you have 9.5 or bigger, 8.5 or 8.50 skateboard can be used, with the 8.50 being recommended for size 11 shoes or larger. If you are unsure which skateboard size is more comfortable, such as if you should get a 7.75 or 8.0, I recommend that you get the larger size. The reason being is the larger deck size will give you slightly more balance and as a new rider, the added balance will give you a better all around comfortable ride but also make learning more fun with the possibility of a faster learning curve.
Below is a generic skateboard showing the measurements of an 8.0 skateboard. You can see the size of the nose, the tail, the over all width, length and wheel base of this skateboard.
Now that you understand a little bit about skateboard sizes, I want to bring in "concave". Concave is the curvature at the top of the skateboard. You can find skateboards that are completely flat on top (No concave), slightly curved (small or low concave), A medium amount of curve (medium concave), or a lot of curvature on the top (steep or heavy concave). The concave of a skateboard depends on a few different things. The board style and yet again, personal preference. As for board style, old school or fishtail style skateboards typically have no concave or very low concave as they are typically built for vert or bowl riding. This type of riding requires more balance and more area for the foot to grip to. A lower concave provides better balance on the board which is needed when carving. Many street skaters prefer either medium or steep concave as a higher amount of concave gives the skater more ability to flick the board, giving more spin for flip tricks.
As a newer skater, I recommend that you go with a low amount or medium amount of concave. Some concave is OK but having too much could make for a less comfortable ride and give less ability to balance on the board while you are still learning. Schlaudie decks are primarily medium concave and great for both beginners and the more advanced skaters.
The rest of the parts:
We have discussed the deck directly but there is so much more to a skateboard than just the deck. You have wheels, trucks, grip, bearings...
For this we will go from the top to the bottom starting with grip. Grip is a sticky sandpaper type material that lays on the top of the skateboard. It is typically black but there are a ton of companies that create really cool graphic styles. Each company may have a slight difference in grippy-ness. How much "sand paper" feel there is. That sand paper is used to hold on to your shoe when you are doing all tricks from Ollies and kick flips to more advanced Lazer flips. Any major brand of grip tape works fantastic. You will hear much from your friends stating one brand is better than the other but usually that goes based on personal preference. As long as the grip tape is of high quality, it will work perfect for a new rider.
Under the grip is the skateboard, which we have already given an explanation on above so we will skip this point.
Just below the skateboard are the trucks. This is the large metal piece that holds everything else together. The trucks have many parts associated with it. You have the base plate, the bushings, which are small, half circle plastic pieces under the king pin which is the nut that is used to tighten or loosen the trucks. Below that is the hangar and axles. The axles are the thinner part, just like on a car that the bearings and wheels ride on.
Trucks come with the bushings, kingpin, axles and all of their needed associated nuts. Some trucks are heavier than others and some are called "hollows" which is exactly what it sounds like. The center has been drilled out to reduce weight. This does lower the strength of the trucks some but most high quality truck companies are still made strong enough for even the most aggressive skaters to be able to ride hollows.
Your trucks have their own specific sizes which go directly off of the size of your board. You want to purchase trucks that are the correct size for your board so they do not go too far out beyond the deck or too far in under your deck. This means when shopping for trucks, make sure that if you have a size 8.0 deck, you buy trucks that fit specific to a size 8.0 deck.
The bearings go on the truck axles inside of the wheels. Bearings assist the wheels to spin freely and depending on the "speed" of the bearings your wheels will spin faster or slower. For a brand new rider, I recommend APEC 5 or APEC 7 bearings. Most would say "Justin, APEC 5 are too slow!" Yes. They are quite slow. But, we are working with new riders here and with that, having brand new APEC 7 bearings, the possibility of the board getting too much speed is very real. slower spinning bearings will help with the comfort level of a new rider as he or she learns how to skate.
Wheels are next. Again, like everything else in skateboarding, there are a ton of wheel brands on the market. There are two primary things to look for when selecting wheels for new riders. Size and hardness. This is not 1995 so thankfully we don't have to worry about 30mm wheels any more. Most wheel sizes go from around 50mm to about 54 or 55mm for skateboarding. For a new rider, I recommend a size 53mm or 54mm. A larger wheel is great for beginners because larger wheels can roll over more types of surfaces. They work for skateparks, concrete streets, wood and even metal. The hardness of a wheel should be looked at as well. They go off of "A" ratings. The standard hardness for wheels is around 100A - 101A this is great for a mixture of street and park. You typically want a bit harder compound for park riding. As a new rider, I recommend going a bit softer. The reason for this is because a softer compound wheel is lighter on the landing. When learning how to ollie, new riders have a tendency to "slam" the deck back down on the ground when landing. Softer compound will help with this. A 96A or 98A wheel is perfect for new riders.
In order to tie it all together, you need hardware. Hardware bolts the trucks into the wood. There are a few different sizes of hardware you can purchase. Anything 7/8 inch to 1 inch hardware works great.
So, we have gone through most of the parts of a skateboard and gave some information on them. When purchasing a skateboard, you can either custom build it or you can buy a complete which is already built at your local skateshop. In Facebook groups I am a member of, I have read people telling new riders to stay away from custom built boards because it is "too difficult" to put together. That could not be more far from the truth. There is not a single bit of difficulty to a custom built board. When you buy your skateboard from a local skateshop, it is nothing more than asking someone at your local shop what to get. This is your local skateshop owner and worker's life. They already know what you need and will be happy to not only point you in the right direction but also put it all together for you. One thing that they don't like however is when you buy a custom board from a major retail store or online and go in to the shop to ask them to put it together. That's like buying a car from one dealership and asking another to clean it, fill it with gas and prep it for the sale. Happily, if you buy a skateboard from schlaudie.com, we will grip your deck upon request for you but unless you are local, I can not go to your city in your state and put it together the rest of the way. If you buy the deck from schlaudie.com and the trucks, wheels and bearings from your local shop, they will be more happy to assist you with putting it together if you have any questions though. Keep in mind, selling skateboards and skateboard parts is your local skateshop's lively hood.
As you have read through this I have stated a few things I want to point out. I have said many times that there are many, many brands for everything. But, I have also said the word "quality". Make sure everything you get is quality. Under absolutely no circumstances should you buy your skateboard from Wal-Mart or Target. Do your best to steer clear of major retail stores as well. On our website we have a tab "buy local" Under this tab there are all of the shops that sell Schlaudie products. Whether you decide to buy a Schlaudie skateboard for your first choice is of no concern, choosing to buy your skateboards from a local shop is. If you do not have a local shop in your town, please visit the "buy local" tab and visit one of the local skateshops websites listed. You can buy many items from these shops online and they will be happy to ship it to your door. This helps local companies stay alive and keep skateboarding alive in their communities and nationwide.