Daniel Young has relied on skateboards for fun and transportation throughout most of his life, and now he’s turning to them for his livelihood.
Laboring in his parents’ cluttered woodworking shop on Halawa Valley Road, Young, 27, is designing and crafting skateboard decks out of exotic woods that exhibit both form and function, "whether it’s a cruiser to get from point A to point B or an art piece to hang on the wall," he said.
Young’s parents, Robb and Tish Young, have built a reputation for quality pieces over 30-plus years with the family business, Robb Young’s Fine Woodworking. The company was chosen by the Diocese of Honolulu to make koa reliquaries for the remains of St. Damien and soon-to-be-canonized Mother Marianne Cope.
DANIEL YOUNG SKATEBOARDS
Kickstarter launch party
» Where: The Greenhouse, 685 Auahi St.
» When: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday
» Cost: Free
» Info: 542-9732 or danielyoungskateboards.com
So you could say he’s a chip off the block.
"The three of us work together as a unit," said Tish Young. "The skateboard designs are all Daniel’s ideas. My husband and I are his sounding boards. It’s exciting to see Daniel get into a business that we started so many years ago."
Young and his older sister, Megan, pretty much grew up in the shop, but it was Daniel who took to woodworking and still assists his folks in their work.
"He’s worked here basically since he was 5 years old, when he was sweeping the floor," his mother said.
While at the workshop, he liked to ride his skateboard on a side street, and he also used his board to tool around his Windward Oahu neighborhood.
"I made my first skateboard out of solid oak when I was in the eighth grade, but it was ugly and later broke," Young said.
The Kailua High School graduate also remembers the pleasures of skateboarding to and from Chapman University in Orange County, Calif.
"I lived about a mile away from campus, so it meant using long-distance boards," Young said.
Inspired by his family’s work, he spent the summer of 2006 at his folks’ shop "making 80 boards over three months" and giving birth to his own business, Daniel Young Skateboards.
He draws inspiration in shaping his skateboards from vintage pintail or swallowtail surfboard shapes. His limited-edition designs are based on the natural beauty of the wood he uses; the craftsman applies little if any stain.
The decks are assembled with a mixture of locally sourced woods such as koa, mango, lychee, ohia and kamani, but Young also uses purple heartwood, African mahogany and zebrawood.
Boards destined for street action and not just display get a coating of what he calls "organic grip tape" — sand from Waimea Bay that is evenly sprinkled and lacquered onto the surface.
For a final touch, Young said he would like to apply a laser-engraved logo on all his decks to "make them look more professional."
Right now he doesn’t have a laser engraver, but he is hoping to raise $35,000 by April 13 through Kickstarter, the online crowd-sourced fundraising platform, to buy a commercial-grade machine.
A launch party for the fundraising campaign, which kicked off last Friday, will be held this Friday in Kakaako. Donors can receive gifts that include koa-wood key chains, koa-veneer iPhone backs and Moleskine notebooks with Young’s logo, and, for larger contributions, handcrafted longboard decks and travel-related prizes.