35 Years of Shaping Skateboards: Interview with Shaper Andy Dobson, Folk Skateboards

Q: How’d you become a skateboard shaper and what inspired you?

A: I became a shaper by default when I fell in love with skateboarding. At 14 I had just left my girlfriend’s house after doing the dance thing at the village hall. I was running late and concerned about getting into shit with the folks. Rain was coming down in a horizontal fashion. As I weighed up my situation, something caught my eye; glistening under the streetlights, that yellow polypropylene board must have been meant for me. I grabbed it and jumped on. It was the first time I piloted a skateboard through the night, racing out of control on a mission to reach home and my bed. In the morning I remember looking at that banana board with the red translucent wheels thinking how I could make one, and that’s pretty much when I became interested in designing and shaping skateboards. In the days after that I went to my dad’s work where there was a wood shop,  I traced the plastic board onto a piece of wood with a few choice alterations in the width, created a wedge for the kick tail, and cut it out. That was the first board. 

Q. We’re doing this interview in your little shop in Salmo of all places, what brought you here from Vancouver?

A: Vancouver was way too big a place for me. I grew up in a small village in the North east of Scotland where everybody knew each other and always exchanged a “Fit like?”when you passed on the street. Once our family became three, we knew it was time to bounce. Salmo village has a ski hill and an indoor bowl. Business these days is more of a cottage style industry, no real passing trade.

Q. You’ve shaped for some iconic pros, for whom are you most proud of?

A: There was a board that PD (Skull Skates) commissioned me to make for the manager of the Skull Skates Japan store to mark their 20 year anniversary. That was an insane mission. The story of building that one board alone could and should be an article in and of itself. It was such a unique, one-off board, I wasn’t even allowed to tell people that I’d made it. It was super rushed, so technical, marquetry, a limited amount of materials, and only one chance in the press with the odds definitely stacked against me.  It turned out great. I’m proud of that one.

Another; the Tom Groholski guest model for Clan Skates, Glasgow. To make a shape for the Jersey Devil was one thing, [but] to receive a hand-written letter from the man himself was beautiful. As a kid I idolized everything Clan Skates did. That board is one of only two boards up in my house. 

Andy Anderson’s first pro shape on Powell Peralta. That one turned out to be quite a thing. A unique shape for a unique skater.

"Andy makes skateboards that have a lot of life to them.  I've gone back & set one in particular up numerous times. Beautiful laminate selection, shapes & concaves."  ​

-Tom Groholski

Q: Do your shapes reflect your thoughts on skate culture?

A: Yes because you don’t necessarily have to ride a popsicle to do your best impression of modern skateboarding. Before popsicles, you’d go into a store and look at a hundred boards and with a hundred different shapes. But those designs for the most part weren’t designed for function. What I like to make is boards that have the functionality of a popsicle but have the character and flare of yesteryear. Skate culture today is such a crazy melting pot of everything out there, it’s full of characters. The board you ride should show a little character.

“…I have Andy Dobson to thank for a lot of of my current life. He has an eye for style and a demand for quality. Folk boards are notoriously long lasting and strong. Functional and specialty. Thanks Andy ! And hey, nice name ;).”
Andy Anderson

Q: What’s a difficult aspect of being a shaper today?

A: It’s disappointing that it’s near impossible to find a good supply of quality maple veneers here in Canada. The price hike of materials and the fact that the supply lines have been corrupted during these past few years can for sure be annoying when you’re a small business. But, no. The quality of my product has not changed. It just costs a bit more.

Q: What do you find most fundamental about skateboarding?

A: Getting fucking stoked to get rad. Whether it’s just you sessioning by yourself or with the homies, rolling around, figuring something out and then pushing beyond to create [further].

Q: Where do you want Folk Skateboards to go, if anywhere.

A: I’d like to continue providing the service, making custom boards to stoke people. Also I wouldn’t mind if I could find a little time to grow the brand again, a wee bit apparel, maybe some sweet knitwear.

“Over the years I’ve seen Andy’s skills grow and his focus sharpen: from sculpting wood in a reclaimed warehouse during a bitter Aberdeen winter to his ownership and operation of Folks Skateboards. I’ve come to know him as a reliable, hard-working craftsman wth a total inability to produce anything but the best product physically possible. Andy also has one of the best frontside smith grinds I know of”

- John Rattray

Text and photos by Lauren Powers

Check out Folks Skateboards here.

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