So many skateboard deck brands and so many opinions, but does it really matter which brand you pick? It doesn’t matter, they are equal in quality and durability. Most of the popular brands come from the same manufacturer and are exactly made of the same wood and shapes. It’s up to you which brand you want to support and which graphic you like the best.
There is a slight nuance here. Skateboard brands matter if you want a deck that produced skateboards in the USA, Canada or Mexico. These countries have quality control and the back end where a country as China often lacks proper control. It’s probably a matter of time before all manufacturing is outsourced as it saves companies a considerable amount of money on production, material and labor costs.
It’s a different story when it comes to wheels and trucks, there is a big difference in the top brands and de less known brands but we’ll get to that part in a second. First, let’s see which brands come from which manufacturer to give you a better idea of what’s going on here.
Skateboard deck manufacturers and brands
So let’s dive into these manufacturers and the brands they provide skateboard decks. You may want to grab a chair because if you’re a religious follower of your skateboard brand your in for a treat. Many skateboards are produced in China so if you’re looking for something that’s made in the USA, check out the list below. Keep in mind that brands switch manufacturers once every while. Let’s start with one of the most familiar woodshops, Dwindle.
Dwindle / DSM Woodchop
Dwindle has been around for some time and provide skateboard decks for many popular brands. As of January 2005, Dwindle Distribution is located in El Segundo, California. They are the largest skateboard company in the world founded by no other than legends Rodney Mullen and Steve Rocco. The brands in cursive also buy from other woodshops. You may be a huge Enjoi evangelist, but in reality, it’s the same deck as many others. Here’s a list of brands that buy decks from Dwindle.
- Dusters (cruiser decks)
- Santa Cruz
- Speed Demons
- World Industries
Chapman has been producing skateboards since 1991 and is one of the few that makes skateboard decks solely in the USA. Supreme gets their decks from Chapman which can sometimes go for hundreds/thousands of dollars on eBay (depending on the artist they work with).
- Fancy Lad
- Supreme Artist Series
- Zoo York
NHS is a privately-held company founded in 1973. To this day they are a well respected and innovative skateboard company. Their main focus is on producing skateboards but they also produce snowboarding and surfing equipment.
- Plan B.
- Santa Cruz
Watson Laminates was founded in 1975 by Charlie Watson and is based in San Diego. The originally started as The Shack Out Back in 1974 in Pacific Beach. The company went through some rough times when the popularity of skateboarding declined but they always managed to stay in business. They produce boards for a few known brand like Alien Workshop and Foundation.
- Alien Workshop
Lots of familiar names in this list as Skate One is part of Powell Peralta. Skate One was founded in 1976 and has been a manufacturer & distributor ever since.
- Mini Logo
- Bones Brigade
Based in Canada, Control was founded in 1993 by Carl Savard at the age of 18. Carl got a severe car accident and used the compensation money to start up his own skateboard manufacturing company. Carl Savard first produced skateboard by hand using homemade molds and tools. With the support of his family, he was able to get better machinery and is still producing boards to this day.
- Only One
In 1996 Max Dufour founded Woodchuck in Canada. Woodchuck manufactures high-end skateboard decks and brands like BLVD. Brands Death Skateboards and Traffic all come from Woodchuck.
- City Stars
- Death Skateboards
Generator Distribution / BBS
Generator Distribution produces skateboard decks for a lot of popular brands. Baker, Heroin, Alien Workshop, Krooked to name a few. They have factories in both the USA and Mexico.
- Black Label
- Alien Workshop
- Death Wish
- Skate Mafia
- Slave ($lave)
- Theories of Atlantis
PS Stix produces skateboard decks in Tijuana, Mexico. Brands like Element, Plan B, and Toy Machine get their decks from PS Stix.
- Foundation(pro models)
- Plan B
- Toy Machine*
South Central was founded by Chris Atchinson in 1992. They produce skateboard decks for a number of brands all made in the USA. Chris has been passionate about skateboarding all his life and wanted to make a career out of it. Since becoming a pro was out of the question, he used his years of knowledge to start a skateboard production company.
- Killing Floor
Pennswood is a manufacturer that started out in Pennsylvania in 1996. Their boards are manufactured in the USA, familiar Brands like Revive and traffic are made by Pensswood.
- Big Mess
Despite the reputation of Girl and Chocolate, their manufacturers are based in China. This doesn’t mean the boards are bad, just that there’s less quality control.
- Skate Mental
I haven’t mentioned all manufacturers, for a complete and up to date list visit the Slap Magazine Forums
Worry about the size and shape, not the brand
As I said, don’t worry too much about brands. The shape and size is what you should focus on, and perhaps the artwork. The best way to actually know what you like is to go to your local skate shop and jump on a board to feel how it responds. There’s no online shop that can provide this experience, plus supporting your local skateboard shop is a good thing (they’re in rough times at the moment).
If you’re a flip trick type of skateboarder, try the ones with a steep concave and high tails/ noses, just ask the guy in the shop (except for Zumiez, they don’t know shit). The size of your feet won’t really matter, what matters is what feels good.
Do skateboard wheel brands matter?
Unlike skateboard decks, wheels and brands make a huge difference. There is a lot of technology behind it and the bigger brands all have their own formula when it comes to producing skateboard wheels. Skateboard wheels require a lot of research to come up with the perfect combination of polyurethane and go through heavy testing before they enter the shelves. A Bones wheel is far superior to a Mini logo wheel which shows in price and durability.
Do skateboard truck brands matter?
Same as wheels, skateboard trucks brand matter. Some of the more reputable brands have been around for a long time, close to half a century. They use the same grade steel used in airplane technology to design the most durable, strong and reliable trucks. It’s interesting how they got where they are today and all the testing they did, I’ll save that for another post.