Shop Custom Boards at New Hampshire’s Cedar Surf Company

Think you can’t hang 10 in New England? This local surfboard shaper is determined to change your mind.

Sanding foam blanks into surfboards allows Mar-shall the flexibility to tweak his designs to suit New England’s distinctive waves. / Photo by Chris Snyder

There’s a perception that surfing in New England is an inaccessible sport: It takes a lot of skill, the boards are expensive, and—perhaps the biggest deterrent of all—the water is just too damn cold. But while there isn’t much that a surfboard shaper from New Hampshire can do to change sea temperatures, Cedar Surf Company’s Dustin Marshall does plan on opening up the activity to anyone ready to take the plunge, one bespoke board at a time.

A 34-year-old Newmarket resident, Marshall is a self-taught shaper, having dabbled in the craft for years before officially launching his business last summer. After initially using wood to build his surfboards, he soon grew to prefer the buoyancy and versatility of lighter-weight expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam cores. Taking a sander to a foam blank affords Marshall much more precision to play with the shape of a board—but more important, it also lets him optimize his creations for local conditions. “Most of the boards you see in surf shops are made in California,” where the water is very different, Marshall says. His “fat and flat” boards, by contrast, are specifically designed for Northeast waves, which he says tend to be softer and don’t pitch quite as much.

Of course, even the way the water breaks from beach to beach differs, and that’s where ordering from a custom shaper like Cedar can really make a difference. Marshall can tweak the boards not only to his customers’ specifications, but also to their preferred surfing spots, whether they’re taking their first lesson in Rockport or attempting to shred a nor’easter swell at Gooch’s Beach in Maine.

Just because they’re made to order, though, doesn’t mean these are elite boards for elite athletes. Most Cedar boards start at $600, which is competitive with the cost of most off-the-rack options from surf shops and about half the price of what other custom shapers often charge. “My ideal customer is someone enthusiastic and primarily looking to go out and have fun,” Marshall explains. “I’m not necessarily making boards for people at the top of their game. I want to make boards for the people who go out whenever they can, who put their heart and soul into every paddle stroke, and maybe they still suck—as long as they’re happy while they’re surfing.”

Things We Love

Photo by Dustin Marshall

1 “Wampus Cat” surfboard, starting at $600.

Photo by Dustin Marshall

2 “Breakfast Burrito” surfboard, starting at $600.

Photo by Dustin Marshall

3 “Denim Chicken” surfboard, starting at $600.