Andy Keenan has the South West at his heart. Originally a south-Devon boy, he crossed the Tamar and now calls Cornwall home, setting up Banyan Woodwork’s workshop in Stowe Barton a few years ago. Having always been very creative and hands on, a six-year spell working for a woodwork company saw Andy fall in love with wood. He also discovered a love for wooden surfboards and this was the start of Banyan. Andy had to take a lot of advice in the early days and his first boards were very trial and error, but it was all worth it, as the resulting wooden surfboards and bellyboards are beautifully handcrafted and designed to stand the test of time.
Andy’s original surfboards were made using a wooden skeleton, but this resulted in so many joints that he had no choice but to fibreglass them, which meant covering up the natural beauty of the wood, something Andy didn’t want. A change of tact saw Andy switch to using a thin foam core, wood top and bottom and then 18mm cork for the rails. It’s a little-known fact, but cork is incredibly sustainable and completely biodegradable, so was the obvious choice in line with Andy’s ethos of making boards that are kind to the planet.
When making a surfboard, Andy shapes the foam blank first, while keeping in mind that the board is going to be bigger than the blank due to the addition of wood. The blank is then covered in timber, such as a rich Cornish Redwood, and placed in a ‘vac bag’ which acts as a clamp, creating the board’s beautiful ergonomic shape. Andy takes surfboard commissions, however customers also have the opportunity to learn how to shape and build their own. He has already run a number of successful courses where customers have spent a week with him in the workshop, resulting in their own bespoke board. Andy tells us: “I’m very proud of the longevity of my boards, all of which are still going strong and look almost as good as they did they day they left the workshop.”
The bellyboards came about when Andy was asked to make a bespoke wooden board for a friend following the stark revelation of the number of foam boards that end up in landfill. Now these unique, sustainable boards can be found lined up in a kaleidoscope of colours for sale outside the workshop, as well as in local surf shops in and around Bude. Each bellyboard begins life as a sheet of 9mm birch ply which is then cut to shape and the nose placed into a steam box. They board is then placed into a rack which forms the curve on the nose and sits there for about a week until its bent to perfection. The boards are then painted or screen printed, each with an individual design, and either Danish oiled or coated with a water-based varnish ready to ride the waves!
Andy undertakes commissions and orders with corporate branding – watch out for the Elite West Bellyboard coming very soon!