GEARBOX Branding Overlay

With any fin system there is a lot of critical information that helps simplify understanding how the system is meant to be utilized. This page covers all of the details regarding the primary install methodologies. The information is spread across multiple sub-pages, use the pagination bar at the bottom to move through all the information.

  • Standard Install

    The Standard Install should be used for any polyurethane or EPS install where the EPS is 1.5# density or greater. As a time saver the EPS Install can be used as it requires less routing, but it is slightly more expensive due to the increased cost for the HD foam block!

    ROUTER BIT SETUP
    Router Bit Setup Image

    To adjust the router bit to the correct depth, place the router upside down on a table, place the base router jig on the bottom of the router base, now adjust the router bit so that 16.5mm (21/32”) of the cutter is protruding above the rubber non-slip pad on the bottom of the jig. This results in the tip of the cutter being 1/32" (1mm) above the lip of the load bearing collar.

    Alternatively, a box can be placed on the bottom of the jig, then adjust the bit until it is slightly above the top of the upper surface of the load beam collar.

    It is a good idea to do a test run in a scrap of foam to ensure that everything is correct before proceeding.

    NOTE: for installation into deep double concaves it is advisable to set the bit a little deeper in order to allow the box to be fully below the bottom surface, at the lowest point of the concave. A measurement of roughly 31.75mm (1 1/4” ) from the base of the router to the tip of the cutters on the router bit can be used as a starting point! This results in a cavity that is slightly deeper than the depth of the box when installed in a deep concave.

    PREPARATION
    Install Preparation

    A GEARBOX 2 install is very simple and only requires our routing system, hex key, die cut tape, boxes, and a router that you provide.

    A trim router is strongly recommended as these are easier to handle and fit better on the jigs, but any router will work! See the general sections for router bit setup, details about the routing system, glossary, box details, and more.

    Routing will most commonly be performed on the shaped surfboard blank. But an installation can be performed after the bottom has been laminated, but the boxes will still need to be capped with glass.

    SETUP
    Install Setup

    As part of the setup the blank needs to have the shapers fin layout lines, for the desired fin setup.

    To ease the process there should be a line drawn connecting the two dots that mark the fin location, if these are not already present.

    These lines will help with the positioning of the jigs, and are typically placed on the blank by the shaper to their desired fin layout.

    STEP 1
    Install Step 1

    Place the base router jig on the blank oriented with the rail marker pointing towards the rail.

    Place the back shapers mark window on the back shapers mark, then use either the centerline for a center box, or the side centerline for a side box to align the jig between the marks. Use the shapers mark crosshatch to position the mark within the window.

    Typically, the jig does not need to be anchored to the blank as the weight of the jig and the rubber pad on the bottom keep the jig in place.

    STEP 2
    Install Step 2

    Place the top router jig on top of the base jig, once again with the rail marker matching that of the base jig. The top jig has a built in locater on each end that locks it into position on top of the base jig.

    The router bit depth DOES NOT need to be adjusted to rout this cavity as the jig correctly raises the bit to the correct depth.

    Proceed with the routing of the cavity that forms the shelf onto which the box load beam collar will rest.

    STEP 3
    Install Step 3

    Remove the top router jig and place the bottom router jig inside the base jig. The bottom jig fits precisely in the inner opening. Ensure that the rail marker is oriented the same as the base jig. The jig will not drop into the previously routed cavity as there is a slight reveal all the way around the interior.

    Router bit depth does not need to be adjusted for this cut. Be careful inserting the router bit into the jig as there is not a lot of room. Start up the router and then insert the router bit into the surfboard foam. Holding firmly onto the router move it in a clockwise direction around the inside of the jig. Resulting cut is always a 1/16” away from the jig.

    Be very careful when routing a center box as the stringer can cause the router to jump. It is safer to create a starter hole in the stringer to make it easier to start the router while inserted into this opening. The hole can be made by using the router before adding the bottom router jig, or a Forstner Bit can be used to made a starter hole in the string. If there is a lot of vee in the board some tape might be needed to hold the base jig.

    When finished routing always wait for the router to stop spinning before removing it from the jig, this prevents accidentally nicking the jig. After routing the bottom cavity, remove both the bottom jig and the base jig from the blank. Cavity routing is now complete!

    WARNING: When routing a stringer, hold the router firmly while slowly plunging into the center of the stringer, then remove small amounts of the stringer at a time to minimize the risk of the router bit catching! Once the stringer has been removed run the router clockwise around the perimeter of the jig to finish the hole. A drill can also be used to remove some of the excess wood to simplify the routing process!

    STEP 4 & 5
    Install Step 4

    With the revised notched bottom jig the cavity now already features cutouts for the screw posts so no additional work is required!

    Before starting the installation the boxes need to be prepared. Start by using the provided hex key to make sure the grub screws are well down into the box so that they cannot be touched when sanding the board. Next cover the dams on the boxes with the die cut tape we provide, or masking tape cut to fit the dam. Make sure the tape is pressed down tight to prevent resin from leaking into the slot.

    To install a box, pour some laminating resin into the routed cavity. Make sure all of the inner surfaces of the cavity are covered with resin. Press the box down onto the cavity, resin should squeeze up around the edges of the box and cover. Make sure the box is fully pressed into the cavity, the upper surface of the load beam collar flange should be slightly below the lip of the cavity.

    WARNING: SIDE BOXES MUST BE ORIENTED WITH THE SCREW SIDE FACING TOWARDS THE STRINGER!

    Box Install Step 5
    STEP 6
    Install Step 6

    Spread the excess resin around the top of the cover ensuring that all cavities are filled with resin.

    Now the box can be covered with fiberglass and the lamination process can proceed. An additional reinforcement patch should finally be applied over the boxes. But if a 6-oz or heavier cloth is being used it might be easier to place it underneath the bottom lamination. In this case it should always be a layer of 4-oz in order to get it to drape as tight to the dam of the box as possible.

    After lamination, before the resin gels, check for air around the boxes and rub in extra resin, if needed, to remove any air, or use a pin or scratch awl to pop the air bubbles.

    NOTE: there should always be at least two layers of fiberglass over the boxes. The additional layer should always be placed on top of the bottom lamination. Ideally, the second layer should be added after the bottom has cured, but it can be applied with the bottom laminate.

    FINISH
    Finished Install

    During the lamination process the box is capped with layers of glass, some of which is designed to be removed during the sanding process.

    Once the board has been hot coated and has cured it is time to sand the board and boxes. The shape of the dam on the box creates a raised area that needs to be sanded down flush with the bottom surface of the board.

    Sand down the protruding dam on the boxes until it is completely flush with the bottom of the board. This will expose the slot of the box, and the grub screw holes.

    If the board is going to be glossed and polished another die cut tape, or masking tape, will need to be applied to the top of the box to cover the exposed slot and screw holes. Now the glossing process can be completed. Once the gloss coat has cured the board can be polished as with any other fin system. Remove the cover at the end of the process to keep the box slot clean.

    Download Standard Guide
    0
  • EPS & 1Rout Install

    The EPS or 1Rout Install should be used for any EPS boards with a foam density of less than 1.5#. The process is actually simpler than the standard install because it utilizes an HD foam block. This means the routing operation is just a single cavity! This install can also optionally be used for polyester installs if the HD foam blocks are purchased.

    ROUTER BIT SETUP
    Router Bit Setup Image

    To adjust the router bit to the correct depth, place the router upside down on a table, place the base router jig on the bottom of the router base, now adjust the router bit so that 16.5mm (21/32”) of the cutter is protruding above the rubber non-slip pad on the bottom of the jig. This results in the tip of the cutter being 1/32" (1mm) above the lip of the load bearing collar.

    Alternatively, a plug can be placed on the bottom of the jig, then adjust the bit until it is slightly above the top of the upper surface of the load beam collar.

    It is a good idea to do a test run in a scrap of foam to ensure that everything is correct before proceeding.

    NOTE: for installation into deep double concaves it is advisable to set the bit a little deeper in order to allow the box to be fully below the bottom surface, at the lowest point of the concave. A measurement of roughly 31.75mm (1 1/4” ) from the base of the router to the tip of the cutters on the router bit can be used as a starting point! This results in a cavity that is slightly deeper than the depth of the box when installed in a deep concave.

    PREPARATION
    EPS Install Preparation

    A GEARBOX 2 install is very simple and only requires our 1rout system, hex key, die cut tape, HD foam blocks, boxes, and a router that you provide.

    A trim router is strongly recommended as these are easier to handle and fit better on the jigs, but any router will work! See general sections for router bit setup, terminology for the routing system, how to make HD foam blocks, and more.

    Routing will most commonly be performed on the shaped surfboard blank. The major difference with this type of installation is the fact that we will end up installing a high density foam block into the routed cavity. This provides a more stable support platform for the box, especially in a low density foam.

    The 1Rout installation technique utilizes a single jig and HD foam blocks to house the box within the routed cavity. This technique is the simplest and is always used for low density EPS foam installations. It requires that the HD foam blocks be purchased for the installation.

    STEP 1
    EPS Install Step 1

    The first step in the process requires that the blank have the shaper’s fin layout lines, for the desired fin setup, marked out for all the fins. To ease the process there should be a line drawn connecting the two dots that mark the fin location, if these are not already present.

    These lines will help with the positioning of the jigs, and are typically placed on the blank by the shaper to their desired fin layout.

    The front and back shapers marks should be 4 1/2” apart in order to work best with the base router jig, as this will allow the layout lines to extend the full length of the inside of the jig.

    STEP 2
    EPS Install Step 2

    Place the base router jig on the blank oriented with the rail marker pointing towards the rail. Place the back shapers mark window on the back shapers mark, then use either the centerline for a center box, or the side centerline for a side box to align the jig between the marks. Use the shapers mark crosshatch to position the mark within the window.

    Typically, the jig does not need to be anchored to the blank as the weight of the jig and the rubber pad on the bottom keep the jig in place.

    Once the base jig is in place on the blank, the routing process can proceed. For this type of installation we are going to rout a single cavity the shape of the box and the full depth using the standard router bit depth setting.

    Be very careful when routing a center box as the stringer can cause the router to jump. If there is a lot of vee in the board some tape might be needed to hold the base jig.

    STEP 3
    EPS Install Step 3

    Start the routing by plunging the router carefully into the foam away from the jig. Start removing foam from the center of the cavity first. Then finish off by moving the router in a clockwise direction around the perimeter of the jig. This will protect the outer edge of the cavity from debris flying around inside the cavity. Resulting cut is always a 1/16” away from the jig.

    Be very careful when routing a center box as the stringer can cause the router to jump. If there is a lot of vee in the board some tape might be needed to hold the base jig.

    When finished wait for the router to stop spinning before removing it from the jig, this prevents accidentally nicking the jig. Remove the base jig from the board.

    WARNING: When routing a stringer, remove small amounts of the stringer at a time to minimize the risk of the router bit catching! Once the stringer has been removed run the router clockwise around the perimeter of the jig to finish the hole.

    STEP 4
    EPS Install Step 4

    There is now a single cavity routed into the blank into which the HD foam block and box will be installed.

    STEP 5
    EPS Install Step 5

    Before starting the installation, the boxes need to be prepared. Use the provided hex key to make sure the grub screws are well down into the box so that they cannot be touched when sanding the board. Cover the dams on the boxes with the provided die cut tape, or masking tape cut to fit the dam. Make sure the tape is pressed down tight to prevent resin from leaking into the slot.

    The HD foam block and the box will be installed into the board at the same time in two steps.

    First the HD foam block will be installed. Start by coating the bottom and lower sides of the routed cavity with a light coat of resin. Push the foam block down into the cavity making sure it is flush with the bottom, it should look like the photo in STEP 6.

    STEP 6
    EPS Install Step 6

    Now that the HD foam block has been inserted into the cavity, proceed with the installation of the box. To install a box, pour some resin into the narrow cavity in the HD foam block. Make sure all of the inner surfaces of the cavity are covered with resin and that there is enough resin in the bottom cavity to almost fill it.

    Press the box down into the HD foam block and cavity, resin should squeeze up around the edges of the box and cover. Make sure the box is fully pressed into the cavity, the upper surface of the load beam collar flange should be slightly below the lip of the cavity when installed correctly.

    STEP 7
    Install Step 7

    Spread the excess resin around the top of the cover.

    Now the box can be covered with fiberglass and the lamination process can proceed. An additional reinforcement patch should finally be applied over the boxes. NOTE: it is always advisable to put this layer on the top of the bottom lamination to minimize the chance of sanding through the bottom. But if a 6-oz or heavier cloth is being used it is easier to place it underneath the bottom lamination. In this case it should always be a layer of 4-oz in order to get it to drape as tight to the dam of the box as possible.

    After lamination, before the resin gels, check for air around the boxes and rub in extra resin, if needed, to remove any air, or use a pin or scratch awl to pop the air bubbles.

    WARNING: SIDE BOXES MUST BE ORIENTED WITH THE SCREW SIDE FACING TOWARDS THE STRINGER!

    NOTE: there should always be at least two layers of fiberglass over the boxes.

    STEP 8
    Step 8

    During the lamination process the box is capped with layers of glass, some of which is designed to be removed during the sanding process.

    Once the board has been hot coated and has cured it is time to sand the board and boxes. The shape of the dam on the box creates a raised area that needs to be sanded down flush with the bottom surface of the board. Sand down the protruding dam on the boxes until it is completely flush with the bottom of the board. This will expose the slot of the box, and the grub screw holes. If the board is going to be glossed and polished another die cut tape, will need to be applied to the top of the box to cover the exposed slot and screw holes. Now the glossing process can be completed. Once the gloss coat has cured the board can be polished as with any other fin system. Remove the tape at the end of the process to keep the box slot clean.

    Download EPS Guide
    0
  • Post-Lam Install

    Both of the primary install processes can also be done as a post-lam install, where the boxes are installed after the bottom of the board has been laminated. This makes for a stronger install and is a little less stressful as you do not have to deal with the boxes during the lamination process.

    PREPARATION

    In addition to the two installation options described in the previously, another option is available.

    Post lamination installation where the boxes are installed after the board has been laminated, before the hot coats are applied.

    The advantages of this approach are an increase in strength. More time to complete the installation, without the pressure of laminating the entire bottom of the board. Improvement in the strength of the bottom lamination as it is not interrupted by the box installation so the fiberglass can be laid down more symmetrically.

    The additional strength for this install technique comes from the fact that the side of the box is bearing onto the edge of the lamination once installed. This helps dissipate loads into the laminate making it stronger.

    The process is identical to the standard or EPS installation techniques with the exception that the board is first laminated before performing the installation.

    NOTE: due to the lamination on the bottom of the board, the base jig may be more inclined to want to move on the board. This can be countered in one of three ways. 1 - order a base jig with no bottom pad and then use double sided carpet tape to anchor the jig to the board 2 - apply a few pieces of adhesive backed (PSA) sandpaper to the bottom of the board and then place the base jig with its pad on the sand paper, this will help prevent the jig from sliding 3 - apply double-sided carpet tape to the board on either side of the box location, then place the base jig on the tape to lock it in place, peel off the tape when done

    STEPS

    step 1

    Laminate the board, as normal.

    step 2

    Proceed with the installation, by following one of the install guides already described previously. The only difference in the process is that the routing will be also going through the bottom lamination.

    Boxes will still need to be capped with two layers of glass, as with the standard approach.

    step 3

    On completion of the installation, apply the hot coats as per any normal lamination.

    General

    The appearance of the installation will change if this approach is used on a board with a colored bottom. In this case there will be no color over the cover, so it will show as WHITE in the install, unless there is a custom or color cover, in which case the color or material will be visible!

    This installation technique is also easier for anyone wanting to check the cant angle of the box. The box can first be glued into the board with a fin in the slot. This allows the fin cant angle to be checked before applying the caps of glass over the boxes.

    Finished Post Lam Install
  • Install Extras

    Information presented in this section is ancillary to the install process. It is presented to provide additional useful information.

    Should you discover that there is information you need that is not presented here please contact us so we can help. Also be sure to check out the resources section of this website as there are many downloadable PDF files with more information.

    ROUTING SYSTEM
    Routing System Annotated

    The GEARBOX routing system is made up of five pieces - three routing jigs, router bit, and a hex key.

    The base router jig is the primary positioning jig and serves as the host for the two working jigs (it is also utilized on some of the other installation options, see the EPS Install Guide). It has a rubber pad on the bottom to prevent slippage and to protect the bottom of the board. The bottom router jig is used to rout the cavity for the bottom of the box. Finally, the top router jig is used to rout the shelf onto which the box rests during installation. All jigs have markings on them to help with orientation and placement.

    The router bit features a bearing that is larger than the 3/8” diameter cutter, so there is a small offset from the edge of the jig during the routing operation.

    Cant Angles
    Cant Angles

    While the system provides a large range of cant angles, there might be situations where other angles are required.

    This is possible by using an alternative installation process. Instead of putting the box in during the lamination process it can be bonded into the blank before lamination. This allows a fin to be placed in the box so that the installer can adjust the box to a specific angle. In order to do this the cavity for the box has to made slightly deeper in order to allow the adjusted box to still sit below the lip of the cavity.

    It is critical with this type of installation to ensure that there is sufficient resin in the cavity during the install. This is due to the fact that the box will no longer be seated flat on the shelf created by the cavity. So there needs to be enough resin to fill in the space below the tilted collar of the box.

    For the more precise installer it is also possible to adjust the base router jig to the desired angle. This allows the cavity to still function as intended, allowing the collar to be fully seated on the shelf. It is also possible in certain circumstances to shave down the flange of the collar in order to better accommodate a change in angle, but this should only be done in extreme situations. When adjusting the cant angle to something other than those provided it is advisable to use some sort of guide to ensure that they are installed precisely.

    Once the boxes have all be set the lamination process can proceed as normal.

    Shaper's Mark Layout
    Shapers Mark Layout

    This shows the standard layout method we recommend using, this is a standard used by many in the surfboard industry. We highly recommend using the G Square that GEARBOX SURF sells, as this layout tool makes the process extremely easy.

    G Square
    G Square

    The G Square has a width that is the standard 4 1/2", once the back mark has been placed it is extremely easy to layout the front mark with the appropriate amount of toe-in, just use the back mark measurement, then subtract the amount of toe-in to find the front mark. The square has a centerline that can be used to line it up with the stringer on the surfboard.

    NOTE: the G Square can also be purchased directly from Greenlight Surf Supply online.

    Greenlight Surf Supply
    RESINLOK©
    ResinLok© Tissue

    Under the glass fin systems all suffer from a potential problem area around the dam of the box once the dam has been sanded down. The glass overlaying the box can end up being sanded back away from the dam.

    This leaves behind pure resin with no fiber content, creating an area that could potentially crack.

    To solve this problem we invented something we call ResinLok! This is a very thin fiberglass tissue that is die cut to precisely fit around the dam and cover the entire upper surface of the box.

    Due to the nature of the material it is easy to cut to a precise shape, and due to the thinness it all but disappears once installed.

    Because the material is cut to fit tight to the dam it means that even if the glass overlays are sanded back from the edge of the dam there is always fiber binding the resin together right to the edge of the dam.

    Additionally, the ResinLok material helps the installation process by making it a little easier to remove air around the edge of the dam.

    The use of ResinLok is optional, but highly recommended. While it is an extra small step in the install process, we feel the additional security and strength it provides is well worth the effort. We highly recommend that ResinLok be used with every installation, but ultimately it is up to the individual builder to make the choice.

    There are separate versions for side and center boxes.

    NOTE: ResinLok is not needed with epoxy installs as the resin is inherently less susceptible to cracking with better adhesive properties, but it can still be used with epoxy!

    HD FOAM BLOCKS
    HD Foam Blocks

    GEARBOX has high density foam blocks for sale, but these can be very easily made.

    The most critical aspect of these blocks is the thickness it has to be a very specific thickness if the top routing process is to be avoided. The required thickness is 13/32” (10.32mm), this is the thickness required to place the upper surface at the correct height to support the box.

    The blocks can be made out of any high density foam, polyurethane, Divinycell, CoreCell, or even balsa wood. We use tow blank density polyurethane foam for our blocks.

    START

    Begin with a sheet of foam the correct thickness. This sheet can be any size that is convenient for the number of blocks that will be made.

    STEP 1

    Invert a box onto the foam and use it as a template to mark the outlines for the blocks. Make sure the grub screws have been turned into the box so it sits flat.

    STEP 2

    Once all the outlines have been marked on the foam sheet, proceed with roughly cutting out each block.

    FINISH

    Once all of the blocks have been cut out they can be sanded to shape. The easiest way to accomplish this is on a bench disk sander. But it can be done with a block sander. It helps to have a cavity routed into a piece of scrap foam that can be used to test the fit of the block.

    Another more accurate approach is to utilize a RoboSander®, which is a drum sander that fits in a drill press. It has a bearing on the bottom that is used as a pattern guide. A pattern is then made to the shape of the box and used with the sander to accurately and rapidly produce the blocks. Due to its height multiple blocks can be sanded at once. Placing a couple of sharpened screws through the template allows the foam to be skewered onto the template to keep it firmly anchored!

    NOTE: if you are unable to get foam that is sized down to the required thickness, 1/2” (13mm) foam can be utilized. The top router jig will then need to be used as the final step to trim the foam block down to the correct height after it has been installed. This means the install process is identical to the standard approach, except for the installation of the foam block.

    Gallery
  • Glossary

    BOX DETAILS
    GEARBOX Box Details
    GLOSSARY
    die cut tape
    Masking tape that has been die cut to match the top shape of either the side or center box dams.
    high density foam blocks
    High Density polyurethane foam blocks that have been machined to precisely fit the routed cavity. Will accept either a side or center box for installation in low density EPS foam.
    fin layout lines
    Once a shaper completes a board they typical mark the location of the fin setup on the blank, these are critical for the box installation.
    router bit setup
    The depth of the router bit has to be correctly setup to create a cavity that will support the box. The install guides detail how to perform the correct setup.
    routing system
    A complete set of router jigs that cover all of the routing needs for the system without the need to adjust the router bit.
    base router jig
    The primary jig used to handle positioning, also used for EPS installs.
    bottom router jig
    The jig that is used to rout the bottom cavity for the box, nestles within the base jig.
    top router jig
    The jig that is used to rout the top cavity that supports the collar of the box, locates on top of the base jig.
    router bit

    A specific router bit is provided with the system that features a bearing on the top that is used to follow the pattern provided by the jig.

    hex key
    Allen key that is used to adjust the grub screws used by the system to lock the fin into the slot of the box.
    shaper's mark
    These are the marks placed on the blank by the shaper, typically take the form of a front and back dot with a connecting line between the two.
    grub screws
    The screws used to lock the fin into the box, there are two of them per box.
    ResinLok© tissue
    A very lightweight fiberglass veil that is placed on top of the box cover during lamination to help lock the resin together.

Need Help?

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Purchasing

Product can be purchased from one of our two main storefronts.

Offices

We have two primary office locations for GEARBOX and Hanalei Fins, Australia and the USA. Contact info is provided below but the preferred contact method is through the CONTACT form on this site.

GEARBOX AUSTRALIA +61 417 243 592
GEARBOX HAWAII +1 808 639 5303

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