Guy Butcher has been making bespoke furniture for over 25 years in his studio on an idyllic farm in Herefordshire, United Kingdom. As the furniture business completely dried up during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020, Butcher had his business kept afloat with surfboards.
To Butcher’s rescue, the local and global demand for more sustainable boards in addition to Butcher’s craftmanship led to a successful change in direction.
From traditional boards to new shapes
The idea for Butch Boards sparked from the traditional Cornish bellyboards that have been manufactured since the 1920s. The Cornish bellyboards are about 4 ft long and a foot wide, a bit under 1.30 meters long and 30 wide, that is. In Butcher’s hands, the traditional board shape has evolved into 12-15 different types of boards, not to mention all the custom-made boards.
Butcher had already been making plywood boards for his kids, just like his father had done in the 1970s, simply just slightly better.
Butcher has a development-oriented mindset, and he realized there must be a range of possibilities to improve the materials, construction, and performance of the boards while applying the same quality and attention to detail as was in the bespoke furniture he had been making.
Finnish birch wipes out any other material
Material choice is essential to manufacturing Butch Boards: firstly in the much-needed sense of performance, secondly with an important view to sustainability. The key to both is Finnish Birch thin plywood sourced from none other than Koskisen.
“Vacuum forming, laminating and veneering are a big part of my furniture design. This process gives the ability to form complicated, thin, lightweight, strong, and most importantly, flexible structures. With the benefit of being repeatable and much less wasteful than shaping from the solid, thick materials that would otherwise be needed to create these forms”, Butcher iterates.
According to Butcher, Koskisen thin plywood is the material that gives the strength and pliability to vacuum laminate such thin yet strong boards.
“I’ve not found any others making surfboards this way, using the same technique in larger or smaller boards. It’s effective and has created a sort of dynamic for the board which you can’t get in any other way using wood, really. It’s using the thin plywood Koskisen produces and locally produced softwood, which adds to the dynamic, durability, and flex of the boards. It’s been great and actually taken a life of its own at the moment.”