How skateboarders rely on the steel industry

Skateboarding has had a long and rich history, from its humble beginnings of boarders being dubbed sidewalk surfers, to an anti-establishment sub-culture, to full blown commercial stardom. But did you know, if it weren’t for steel manufacturing, the skateboard might look and perform very differently?

The escalation of modern skateboarding

Skateboarding first showed up in California in the 1950’s, when surfers dreamed up the idea of “surfing on the streets” when the waves weren’t crashing. No one truly knows who invented the skateboard, although some claim the title, and to this day skateboarding remains a strange spontaneous creation.

The first skateboards were primal in their form, made from wooden boxes with roller skate wheels slapped on. However in 1958, Roller Derby mass produced a pressed wooden skateboard with metal wheels. By the early 1960’s, skateboarding had achieved peak popularity, with many big brand skateboarding companies hosting competitions – the most popular skating style of the time was freestyle, in which boarders perform relaxed flat ground skateboarding.

Over the years, skateboarding experienced several crashes in popularity, but since the early 90’s has made its way into the mainstream after the large success of the X Games.

The steel mechanics of a skateboard

With advancing technology and expert engineering capability, the skateboard has gone through many evolutions, however many of the key components, including wood and steel, remain true to its original form. The deck of the skateboard is still made with wood, but is now infused with composite materials and produced with innovative pressing techniques to maximise durability, yet remain flexible to the different styles of skateboarding. While many of the key components that transform an ordinary board into a shredding machine – the trucks, bearings, wheels and hardware – are made of custom cut steel.

Skateboard steel trucks are the T-shaped sections which are mounted to the underside of the wooden deck. There are a several fiddly metal components that form a functional truck, including the axle which runs like a spine to connect the wheels and the hanger (usually made of stainless steel) which the axle runs through. The kingpin, also made of steel, is the final piece of the truck puzzle which holds all the parts together and is cut and designed in a particular way to fit inside the skateboard bushings.

Beginners to the sport will notice that their board bearings are also made of steel. The bearings on a recreational skateboard (non-professional) are circular with flat sides, and hold approximately seven to nine lubricated steel balls which are intended to evenly disperse the weight of the rider and moderate the pressure between the wheels and axle. Lastly, the mounting hardware – bolts, nuts, locknuts and screws – are connect to secure all the parts together, to ensure the boarder has a safe ride… Well, not accounting for user error.

So there you have it; the basic tenets of a skateboard. If this has inspired you to build your own skateboard or DIY creative project, which involve steel profile cutting, bevelling, drilling, bending or more, ShapeCUT are here to help. We are Queensland’s largest privately-owned metal processing business, with over twenty years in the steel industry. If you’re ready to build a steel creation, contact us today on 1800 742 732.