Knowing how to put fins on a surfboard is a pretty basic skill that is necessary for modern surfing. There are a handful of different popular fin systems, but each use the same basic premise for installing and removing fins. Obviously, glassing on fins is a much more involved process, but since glass-on fins are slowly becoming extinct for most of the surfing public, this article will only focus on how to put fins on a surfboard using a fin system.
To put fins on your surfboard, you will need:
- Surfboard With Fin Box
- Fin Key (Allen Wrench) or Flat Head Screwdriver
- Identifying your fin system. In order to know how to put fins on a surfboard it is important to know what kind of fin system is on your surfboard. Two round plugs with rectangular slots is FCS. A long slot with a rear screw hole is Futures. A similar set-up, with a single side screw is lock-box. Longboard boxes look like Futures boxes, but there is no screw hole. Finally, O’fishal fins are screw-less as well, an instead use tabs. Some new boxes are designed to fit both FCS and Futures fins, as these are the most common.
- Identifying each fin. On a tri-fin board, the center fin will be foiled (curved) on both sides. For the side fins, the flat side faces the board’s stringer, and the foiled side faces the rail. Some fins do not have a flat side, for these fins the concave side faces the stringer and the convex side faces the rail. The same logic holds true for quad fins, but without the center fin. Larger fins go in the front for quads, and in the back for twinzers. Knowing which fins go where is an important part of knowing how to put fins on a surfboard.
- Placing the fin in the box. Once you know which fins go where you can place them in their respective boxes. Simply line the fins up and press them into place. Futures fins and longboard fins often have lipped tabs at the rear of the fin’s base. Put this side in first. For FCS, try to put the fin in straight, as putting it in at an angle may damage the surrounding glass.
- Screwing in the fins. The final step to put fins on a surfboard is screwing them into the box. The tiny screws should already be in the fin plugs. FCS and Futures fins use allen wrench screws. Use a fin key to tighten these screws until secure. Do not over-tighten, as this could damage the fin and make it difficult to put fins on the surfboard in the future. Longboards and Lockbox use normal screws and a flat-head screwdriver. Experienced surfers should know how to put fins on each type of surfboard.