Some passions are born from a life-long fascination or study. Others seemingly fall into our laps. For Shore Boards owner Tim Shore, his love of crafting custom wooden paddleboards came from a nearby source: his wife.
“Back in 2013, she was interested in getting a paddleboard, so I started doing some research,” says Shore. As he combed through various types of boards, he eventually stumbled upon shops on the West Coast and in Hawaii that created wooden surfboards.
“I fell in love with it and told my wife that I would make her one,” he says. “She thought I was crazy because I’d never done any woodworking.”
Luckily, Shore’s father-in-law was an accomplished woodworker, so Shore was able to take a crash course in table saws and general crafting techniques. Two years later, Shore had a paddleboard that only cost him $200 to make, and a newfound passion project.
“I was so proud of that board,” he says. “I thought, ‘If I can just hold onto these types of efficiencies, I can really do something with this.’ ”
He spent the next two years honing his skills and building a following.
“I would do my corporate gig at a bank, then come home and hang out with my family until about 8 o’clock and then I’d go out to the garage and fire up the saw,” he says.
Shore’s hard work did not go unnoticed. A staff member for the 2016 Minnesota Boat Show contacted him asking about the boards. Then there was a full-page feature on the back page of the Star Tribune sports section. Then Fox 9 News reached out for a segment. The media coverage led to Shore Board’s first angel investor.
In December 2016, Shore quit the banking job he’d held for 13 years and opened a shop in an industrial space near the North Loop in Minneapolis, where he’s spent the past few months getting set up.
“I didn’t realize that there’s so much involved in starting up a business,” says Shore, although he believes his banking experience helped him get started on the right foot. “It was really nice to know information about business lending, what banks look at when giving a loan and the type of financials that are necessary. I asked a lot of businesses how they got going, and it was really helpful to have that information.”
While still crafting in his garage, Shore was able to make around three boards each month. He anticipates the new space will help crank his production up to nearly 10 boards in the same time frame.
Each board—which come in three sizes—takes about 35 to 40 hours of labor, and Shore promises clients that they’ll have their board within 4 to 5 weeks. Clients are encouraged to have their boards personalized with carved iconography on a selection of western red cedar, paulownia and aspen wood.
“We can customize the board with pretty much anything, whether it’s someone’s tattoo, a family crest or a business logo,” says Shore. “It’s all created using the natural wood.”
Shore’s attention to detail and desire to create the perfect board for every client has been an important factor in his success. When John Geisler saw the article in the Star Tribune, he was intrigued by the idea of a handmade board and reached out.
“The process was collaborative and fun,” Geisler says. “[Shore] worked with me to create a custom board and encouraged me to look at other handmade wood products like canoes, surfboards and water skis to zero in on patterns and wood that I liked.”
Geisler was drawn to purchase a board because of his love for all water sports. Living on Lake Minnewashta, he loves the idea of time spent being active on the water. “It’s what Minnesota people want,” he explains. “A purpose to be outdoors that combines a hobby with a solid workout.”
“I think these boards are as much or more a work of art as a functional board,” he says. “It most certainly is functional but the beauty of the piece makes it worth the investment.”
Lake Minnetonka resident Molly Lang was similarly impressed with the beautiful board she received from Shore Boards. Originally enticed by paddleboarding while on a trip to Hawaii, she set about scouring the internet for a handmade board crafted in Minnesota.
“Once I hit on Shore Boards, there was no turning back. I was sold,” she says. “Tim was so responsive to all of my questions about purchasing a board. He thoughtfully selected certain wood choices and got me the lightest board he’s made to date.”
Shore’s communication during the process added an additional level of customer service to the experience.
“I was offered the opportunity for updates and even pictures along the way. He is so enthusiastic and provides such personalized service that it was an actual joy to wait for the final product.”
When Lang’s board was delivered on a warm day in early November 2016, she couldn’t resist taking it for a test drive. After a little Q&A about the board, she was off on the water.
“It was beautiful; the hollow wood creates such a smooth feel—it kind of felt like flying!” she says. “We are such an active lake community, and paddleboarding offers a unique vantage point. It can be enjoyed alone as a sort of meditation, or with others.”
Like Geisler, Lang was taken with the artistry that went into the creation of her board.
“I’m currently having a cabinetmaker design and install a mahogany rack in my kitchen so that I can admire my gorgeous board throughout the off-season.”
As his work begins to gain more traction locally, Shore plans to engage with larger communities. This year he has partnered with the Lindsey Vonn Foundation to auction off one of his boards at an event in Vail, Colo.
Shore can’t believe this is what he gets to do for a living. “I walk into the shop everyday and it’s not work to me,” he says. “I haven’t worked a day since December of 2016. I’m on cloud nine right now.”