So you got all your parts together, nice trucks some quality bearings, spacers, a rad deck, wheels and maybe a pair of bushings to replace the stocks. It’s really easy to assemble a skateboard, except for that grip tape. It’s a bit harder but really not that big of a deal. I made a detailed step by step instruction on how to build your own skateboard. Follow the instruction and you should be fine.
Have all your skateboard parts and tools ready. Apply the grip tape to your skateboard deck, puncture the holes and add the bolts. Attach your riser pads, trucks and attach the nuts. Put your bearings in your wheels, attach the wheels and you’re done. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes.
Here’s a checklist before you start assembling your skateboard.
- A skateboard deck
- Skateboard grip tape
- A pair of trucks
- 4 wheels
- 2 riser pads (optional)
- 8 bearings
- 4 spacers
- 8 bolts to attach your trucks
- Optionally, a set of bushings to your liking
- A skate tool or a 1/8″ Allen wrench, 9/16″ + 1/2″ + 3/8″ socket/wrench
- Screwdriver or any blunt object
- A razor blade or Stanley knife (cheap plastic version)
I still make the mistake of not ordering everything sometimes, waste of my money as I had to pay for shipping again. If you visit your local skate shop they are happy to assemble all the parts for you. Still, it’s a good idea to do it yourself because you’ll get yourself familiar with your deck and components. If you run into issues you have a better understanding of what could cause the issue.
Putting it all Together, time to Build Your Skateboard
So you got all the skateboard parts? Good, let’s get to business! Assembling a skateboard is really easy and fun. Now get your tools ready. If you have a skate tool available this should be fairly easy. If you don’t have one make sure you get the following tools:
- Philips screwdriver or 1/8″ Allen Wrench depending on which type of bolt you have.
- 9/16″ socket/wrench, 1/2″ socket/wrench, and 3/8″ socket/wrench.
- 7/8″ Allen wrench, 1/8″ Allen wrench.
- A razor blade or plastic Stanley knife.
Step 1 – Attach the Grip Tape to Your Deck
Applying the grip tape is by far the most challenging part if you’re new to it. It really isn’t that hard actually, it all in your head. The rest of it is just common sense but here is where you should pay attention, so let’s get to business.
Tools you need: Confidence and your hands.
- Make sure the tape can cover your board. 8.5″ decks and over are more challenging than narrower boards. The standard grip should fit though you just need to pay a little more attention.
- Take off the plastic sheet entirely. Place one end on your nose or tail and see if it’s aligned properly.
- Slowly start working your way from the back to the front by tapping the grip tape. Keep the other side of grip tape angled and try to let your index finger rest on the end of your deck while doing so.
- Get a blunt object like a screwdriver and scrape the edges. Try to do this quick an firm to make a thin line. This will help you make a nice cut.
- Get a razor blade/Stanley knife and make a little cut on the edge (about where the wheels are placed.)
- Puncture the grip tape at the end of your deck, keep your blade in an angle towards the deck. Move the knife towards yourself. The direction is important to get a clean cut.
- Use some of the leftover grip tape and rub the edges, use the rough side. This will make your line look cleaner and prevents the tape from peeling.
- Puncture the holes where you need to place the bolts. Turn your deck (facing the grip tape) and push the holes back gently while turning your screwdriver. this will make it easier to attach the bolts later on.
How to Avoid air Bubbles.
Angle the grip tape towards your when you apply the grip tape. Slowly apply some pressure on the grip and move your way backward. Don’t slide your hand as it can peel off your skin depending on the grip tape you use. So pat your hand from the back to the front and slowly move forward, pat it in an angle. If you see air bubbles forming just pull the grip up and start over. The grip won’t stick right away, in fact, you can just remove it entirely so don’t worry about it.
Your deck has concave, it’s not a flat shape so laying down the grip tape flat will create air pockets. This isn’t really a problem as you can puncture the pockets, but you want to avoid big pockets or too many of them. Again, this likely won’t happen if you just take your time. They’re also easy to fix, just puncture them and push it back, you won’t even notice them.
Scraping the Edges
Use a blunt tool to scrape the edges of your grip tape. Avoid doing this multiple times just one firm and a quick scrape is better. Do it quick and hard to create a nice thin line. Thicker lines will provide your Stanley knife or razor blade more freedom of movement and you’ll get an inconsistent edge when you start cutting. A few inconsistencies are fine, don’t worry about that but many will become a problem in the long run as your grip might peel off.
I use an old screwdriver for the edges, lots of people use a file but any blunt tool is fine. You should try to get the handle close to the edge of your so you can apply more force with greater precision, resulting in a nice hard thin line. Tools you need: A screw driver or any blunt object.
Make a Cut and Pull up Your Grip Tape
Use your blade and make 4 cuts neat to nose and tail on both ends, just before the curve of your tail and nose. Once you made the cuts use your screwdriver and make another scrape over the cut, so you won’t have any problems cutting that area.
Lift the grip tape a little (not too much) around the edges. It prevents your hands from sticking on the bottom of the grip tape and makes it easier to cut your grip tape. If you somehow have a really small edge at one side, don’t worry about it, just lift the grip tape really gently. If you have a really sharp blade you’ll still be able to remove the edges.
Cutting the Grip Tape
Now for the scary part, cutting the grip tape. The most important thing here is to cut into your own direction. If you cut away from yourself you’ll end up with many inconsistent cuts. For some reason, you’re more in control cutting into your own direction than the opposite. You’ll just get many inconsistencies if you cut away from yourself. Make sure your blade is as sharp as it can be, it will make the process a lot easier. On my first try, my blade wasn’t sharp enough and it really showed in the end result. You can still fix inconsistencies once you’ve cut the grip tape.
So let’s cut the tape! Puncture near the side of your nose or tail and start cutting, make sure you’re blade is at an angle towards your deck. If you use a razor blade, try to rest your index finger on the side of your deck to make a stable and solid cut. This will help to prevent your blade from going all over the place and you’ll get a nice clean cut. Make sure you use one of those cheap plastic Stanley knives and move the blade all out. If you use a Stanley knife like in the example, make sure you use the right angle.
Keep cutting, when you bump into your deck go back a little and resume cutting as you come around. Once you reach your nose or tail pick up your board, turn it and stick your blade where you left off. Apply pressure to your deck with your other hand to prevent it from moving and cut around the nose/tail and shift the board outwards when you make the curve. Note that you usually can’t make the turn unless you’ve done it many times.
Once turned just keep cutting into your own direction to the end of your deck. Once you hit the end of your board (tail or nose) peel up the remaining grip tape and cut it off. Done.
Tools you need: A razor blade or a plastic Stanley knife.
Anxious About Applying Grip Tape the First Time? Fear Not!
I used to let my buddy do it because he always got it right. One day I asked him again, he looked at me and said: “it’s time you do it yourself, you’re a grown up now, it really isn’t that big of a deal”. Panic! I felt a bit of panic, what if I screw up? End of the world! Applying grip tape is rocket science and only a select group of skateboarders can actually do it.
Well, I did a bad job the first time, I bought a grip tap with a nice logo on it but once I finished I attached it the wrong way. Now, this isn’t a problem, but the image that was supposed to go near my tail ended up at my nose. It looks a bit silly to be honest I was in a bit of a rush so that might have something to do with it. I decided to rip it off an do it again, this time it was a breeze (and there was no logo). No that I think of it, I should have just left it the way it was, people might think I only skate switch!
Anyway enough with the background story, just don’t think too much about it. It really isn’t that hard and if you do a bad job, grip tap is really cheap. You can clean up the edges using your razor blade to prevent the grip tape from peeling off, just make sure you put your razor blade in an angle as demonstrated.
Now depending on the shape of your deck, it might get a little more challenging. This guide is for regular skateboards, longboards are a different story but the same rules apply. If you have an oddly shaped deck, just make some more cuts with the razor blade.
Step 2 – Insert the Bolts
So you just did the grip tape, now it’s time to punch the screws through the holes you made. If you haven’t punctured the holes yet, now it’s the time to do so. Just punch a hole, this won’t go wrong. To make this a bit easier, grab a screwdriver and poke the gripe tape that sticks out back into the holes. You can also just use the bolts to push the tape back.
Tools you need; anything that can puncture the holes.
Step 3 – Attach the Riser Pads
If you don’t have riser pads, skip this step it. I assume you got the right length bolts when you decided on your riser pads but this isn’t something that needs explaining a lot. Just make sure your trucks fit. Tools you need; Your hands and common sense.
Step 4 – Attaching Your Trucks
Time to attach the trucks, the only thing you need to remember is attaching them in the right way. Make sure the kingpin is facing inward or you’re going to have a really awkward ride. I never tested this actually but I assume this isn’t going to benefit you at all. Make sure you screw the bolt in tightly or else you’ll feel them when you are trying to do an ollie, shuvit or kickflip. If the bolts stick out a bit, you’ll also damage your shoes and worse case you could cut yourself.
Assembling your trucks, the way I do it. Tools you need: A skate tool or a 1/2″ socket/wrench, an Alan wrench or Philips screwdriver.
- Place your trucks on the bolts
- Hold the nut one side and on using a screwdriver or Allen wrench (depending on the type of bolts) to lock the bolt on the other side.
- Use your thumb and index finger and screw the bolt on with your finger a couple of times. Repeats for the other remaining bolts.
- The screws are still loose so grab your screwdriver/Allen wrench and lock the bolt on the grip side.
- Use your skate tool and start turning the nut. If you use 1/2″ socket wrench lock the nut and turn the screwdriver.
- Make sure the baseplate can’t move anymore.
Step 5 – Put the Bearings and Spacers in Your Wheels
Really easy, if you have open bearings as shown in the example make sure to put the open side on the inside of the wheels. This way they won’t get dirty. If your wheels have graphics make sure you place the graphic on the outside. It doesn’t affect performance but it just looks better. You can use a skate tool or the axles of your trucks to pop them in place, make sure you put them in all the way, they shouldn’t stick out. You should also use spacers to protect your bearings from getting crushed when you tighten the axle nut.
Tools you need; A skate tool or your hands and your truck’s axle.
- Place the first bearing in your wheel, you can just push them in a little using your hands
- Place the wheel and bearing on your truck’s axle and apply some pressure. You might need to use some force but don’t overdo it.
- Put in the spacer, just slide it on the axle.
- Add the second bearing, apply some pressure with your thumbs.
- Remove the wheel, turn it around and put it on the axle again. Apply pressure until the bearing pops in.
If you’re having a hard time getting the bearing in, use some silicon lube or oil on the inside of your wheel (core) an upper side of your bearings. This should help them fit.
Step 6 – Attach the Wheels
Really easy, the only thing you need to remember is not to screw the truck’s axle nuts too tight. It could destroy your bearings. Don’t forget to attach the speedrings or washers, the protect the outside of your bearings from damaging and help them spin. Tools you need; A skate tool or a 1/2″ socket/wrench
- Put the washers on your truck’s axle
- Attach the wheel, the spacers might move around a little and block the end of the axle. Just wiggle it a bit and the wheel should fall into place.
- Put the washer on the outside
- Attach the truck’s nut and tighten it. Not too much, your wheels should still be able to spin.
Tips, tricks, and General Advice when Building Your own Skateboard
Now that you’ve assembled your skateboard or think you’re ready, there’s a couple of tips I still have. Replacing your bushings, removing grip tape, grip tape design, and general maintenance tips.
(Optional) Replace Your Bushings
Sometimes the stock bushings aren’t the right bushings for your personal taste. They can be too soft or too hard. In my case they’re just too soft for my weight, I like to keep my trucks tight and tightening the axle nuts really didn’t do anything. Fortunately, a friend recently gave me a set of bushings (thanks Ryan!). So let’s replace the bushings!
Get your tools ready, you can leave your trucks on your deck. I removed them for the sake of the instructions. Bushings need to break in a little and will start to behave differently after a while. In my case, they’re already too soft and I still have some harder bushings laying around (94 A’s).
Tools you need: A skate tool or a 9/16″ socket/wrench
- Remove the kingpin nut using your tools. It holds your truck together.
- Take off the washer and part 1 of your bushing.
- Remove the truck from the baseplate, you might need to use some force.
- Remove the second part of the bushing and washer.
- Clean the trucks and put in your new bushings.
The Right Tools Really Make a Difference
I can recommend a skate tool like the one I used here. It really speeds up the process and you won’t have to bother with all different kind of tools. I used to just grab my toolbox and get all the proper hardware but I’m a bit of a scatterbrain and my tools got lost on many occasions. Sometimes I brought them along and I keep forgetting where I put them. Not with this tool. It’s a bit bulky which is good and of quality. there are also $5 versions but they will break really fast.
The one I uses is called the Reflex Utilitool. What I like about it is that the screwdriver has a good grip compared to the cheaper tools and an axle re-threader. So when you can’t get your nuts back on your axle, just use the re-threader and you should be able to put it back on.
Removing Gip Tape from an old Deck
In some case you want to remove the grip tape because of your deck is still fine but your grip is worn down. This could because of a bag grip job or the grip tape coming off because it got wet. It’s a bit of a tedious task though, anyway here’s how you do it.
Tools you need: A hair dryer and your hands and feet.
- Remove the trucks
- Get a hair dryer and a thin knife.
- Start heating your nose or tail with the hair dryer, this should loosen the sticky glue.
- Try to slide your knife under the grip tape and gently work around the deck. Use the dryer if you can’t get any further.
- Now that you’ve got the edges, you need to heat the rest of the board. Make sure you can have a tight grip on the piece of tape you removed, it makes the pull easier.
- Place your deck on the ground and place your foot on it so I can’t move when you pull.
- Slowly pull the tape, ideally, you want it to rip off the entire grip. Make sure you heated the tape enough.
- If the grip tape tears halfway through reheat and repeat the process.
- Remove the leftover grip tape with your knife. Your board might feel sticky here and there because of the adhesive residual, but that’s fine.
Getting Creative with Grip Tape Art
If you’ve grip taped a deck a couple of times you might want to get creative. You can use paint markers with various colors and create artwork. You don’t have to be Salvador Dali to create some nice graphics. The advanced stuff is to do some cutouts and combining this with paint markers. You can print out some graphics and make stencils, put them on your board trace around the stencils.
Just a few more Tips
Make sure all the skateboard parts fit together, the truck’s axle should fit the width of your deck. Your wheel should fit the trucks and the bolts should be long enough to make sure you can attach your trucks. When you shop for the parts don’t forget anything from the list I mentioned at the top of this post. I recently forgot the right size bolts, spacers and bearings and had to pay for shipments costs again. I didn’t really mind about the shipping costs, just the fact that I couldn’t build my new setup was disappointing.
Will your bearings always fit your wheels? They’re all one size and will fit all the wheels, even longboard wheels. The standard skateboard bearing size is the “608.” The core is 8mm, the outer diameter is 22 mm and they are 7mm wide> At least the bearings have an industry standard, unlike truck sizes.
Are bubbles in my grip tape bad? No, as long as you puncture them you should be fine. Use a razor blade or Stanley knife to puncture and press the area to your deck. You won’t even notice that they’ve ever been there.
Maintaining Your Skateboard
Not much to maintain, fortunately, just make sure you keep your skateboard out of the rain and avoid storing it in moist environments. A dry warmish place is fine. Clean your bearings every now and then and lube them with Bones speed cream. When you decide to clean your bearings, don’t forget to clean the core of your wheels. This way your skateboard will last a bit longer.
Don’t throw your deck around and don’t leave it in the trunk of your car.
Curious About the Setup I Used?
I might have overspend a little but I like good quality components. For recommendations about components check my recommended gear page. The skateboard I assembled here consists of the following parts:
- Plan B Chris Cole Black Ice deck 8.5″. I love Stranger things and just had to buy that deck. I’m also curious if Blkice actually is just a fad so I’ll report back on that.
- Independent Stage 11 Standard Forged Titanium, 149.
- Ricta Clouds 92a Team Wheel – 56mm. Bought these for my son, I mainly skate transition on Bones SPF V5’s.
- Bones Super Reds.
- Bones spacers.
- Independent Shock Pads (riser pads).
- Grizzly Mini Stamp Sheet Gold Griptape
- Some old bolt I still had laying around