What was life like growing up?
Pretty good. It started off in the bush for a few years on a semi self-sufficient property before moving to the sunshine coast at about 10. Surfing and boards etc. happened not too long after that.
What was your first board?
The first board I had was a boogie board, first surfboard was a 7-foot Pipe Dream shortboard. Then not long after that, a 9-foot Kent Manning longboard.
Tell us how you got started shaping.
I guess the same as a lot of shapers, a desire to build something that at the time wasn’t available, and I’ve always enjoyed building stuff. It was a cheaper way as a 15 year-old to experiment with different types of surfboards and designs.
Tell us about the Deus and TCSS crews and how they influence your shaping.
I wouldn’t say they influence my shaping, I mean the shaping influence come from further afield and more interacted in surfboard history. TCSS are a great bunch of folks and have helped me out heaps and given me a lot of support and exposure, they make some great clothing which I get to keep covered by and we do a few trips to get stuff out there–really great folks to work with. In Bali, I teamed up with Deus and shaped a few boards at their Temple of Enthusiasm to go in the shop there and then made a few more on another trip to go to their LA shop.
Do you shape your boards by hand or do you use a machine?
A bit of both. I’d love to have the time to shape every board from a blank but it’s just not viable business. I’d say it’s about half and half, which is a good balance. The machine cuts I use are more profile than full shapes, so it still leaves a certain amount of shaping and tuning rather than dusting of a kkl or aku cut. I know there’s a lot of hate for machines in surfboard building (particularly the types of boards we make) but really, if you can walk up to a blank that’s had all the mindless planer passes done already and attack it with the same amount of energy and feel as you would a full shape then your only going to end up with a really good board.
Do you glass your boards yourself?
Thomas Surfboards is a two man show. I work with Jake Bowery who is one of the best glassers I have ever seen, and together we come up with a lot of great ideas and we do a certain amount of glass jobs that are two person laminations, just to get the look in some of the abstract work we do. Between the two of us, we make about 3–5 boards a week so it’s definitely no mass production and this gives us the time to make sure we get every one right and to a standard we are happy with.
Who or what inspires you?
Everything and anything, from a good afternoon surf to an architecture magazine, to a beer with mates. Inspiration is everywhere if your eyes are open.
What is your favorite board? Favorite surf spot?
No one board in particular, I do spend more time on logs than anything else but some of that is due to the waves at home, which also doubles as the favorite surf spot. I’m pretty lucky to live within 5 min of some of the best point waves going.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Work hard, aim high. It will pay off.
What are you most proud of?
Not sure yet, maybe ask me when I’m 50. Ha.
What’s your favorite meal?
Depends on the day of the week. Japanese, Mexican, Indian, a good fry up brekkie on the weekend.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Everything and anything, just no Aussie hip hop.
What’s next for Thomas Bexon?
This year’s a busy one, we are going to do some work in Japan, Indo, and Europe at different times this year which is pretty exciting. After that who knows? Probably be all washed up and last year’s news.
More information about Thomas Bexon and his shapes can be found here. Photography by Nicole Gozzer, James Heal, Tom Hawkins, and Teru Yamamotu