These days, Erik Maki is rapidly becoming a familiar name in the South Bay. Residing in El Segundo, the retro-influenced skateboard and Alaia Surfboard shaper is crafting boards to order that are turning heads on the streets and in the water.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for shaping?

Erik Maki: I decided to make my own boards because I wanted something with a classic surf style that was unique from my previous store-bought boards. I’m not really into graphics or ollies and kickflips, and I’ve always loved the style of the 1950s surfing. This influenced my first boards to be birch plywood, which I cut to surf-inspired shapes and used a woodburning tool with light and dark wood stains to create stringers and patterns on the boards.

How would you describe the skateboards you are making today?

Today, I strive to make skateboards with the look and feel of a surfboard. From the built-in grip finish, which is perfect for barefoot riding, to the Carver trucks and wheels, my boards are made to replicate the smooth glide and turning capabilities of a surfboard on land.

Stepping off of the streets and into the waves, why Alaia?

To me the real question was, “Why not?” I watched Dan Malloy [professional surfer/environmentalist] shape an Alaia Surfboard about a year ago, and before he was done, I thought to myself, “I can do that.” In some ways, Alaias are actually easier to make than skateboards, because they are made of woods like redwood and paulownia, which are softer woods and are easier to work with than the hardwoods I use in my skateboards.

Alaias appealed to me because they are extremely sustainable in nature and they really take surfing back to its roots. It just takes wood, non-toxic waterproof glue, finishing oil and a sealing coat of wax to make an Alaia. Simple.

Who are the majority of your clients?

I mainly work with surfers who want a custom skateboard for its classic surf appearance and classic surf feel. However, I also work directly with designers and architects to create custom surfboard and skateboard art pieces for homes and businesses. Recently, I completed a custom Alaia-inspired counter for a burger joint opening up in Santa Monica called the Shaka Shack.

Where can people find your boards?

It’s best to check out my Web site. I generally keep several boards in stock in addition to my recurrent custom orders for those who want a board right away. I’m also currently working on a line of standard single and triple stringer boards for sale at local shops.

How long does it take you to finish a custom order?

A custom skateboard takes about four days to complete from start to finish, however, the wait time on a board is generally two to three weeks. If you can’t wait that long, be sure to ask about the boards I have on hand.

Why should I buy one of your boards?

Think of Maki Longboards as your local surfboard shaper for skateboards. Why would anyone order a custom board from a shaper when they can buy an off-the-rack model? If you don’t care who made your board or how it rides, then a store-bought cookie-cutter board is just the thing. But if you want to know that your board was made by a professional who understands what you want and can deliver a board that is unique to you, then you talk to a shaper. That’s where I come in.

After drilling Maki for insight, I hopped on one of his skateboards and threw some carving turns outside of his shop. Every turn felt like an on-rail power turn on a surfboard, which is not an easy feeling to duplicate. If you have not seen Maki, keep your eyes out. He’s hard to miss cruising around El Segundo on one of his prototype skateboards or styling through the El Porto crowds on one of his new Alaia Surfboards.

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