The ʻEwa Beach Lifer Behind Hau Bush Board Co.
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Kanani Langley set out to make beautiful, Hawaiian-inspired skateboards for people to ride.
Maybe he’s made them too beautiful, because most of his customers want to hang them on their walls.
A self-taught woodworker, Langley is the man behind Hau Bush Board Company, the brand he launched earlier this year. He builds the boards in a small workshop at his ʻEwa Beach home, but the ideas come to him while he’s surfing Hau Bush.
“There’s a lot of mana in my boards,” he says.
The wood in Langley’s boards doesn’t start out looking so nice. He uses reclaimed wood — white oak that was part of a door jamb, or ipe (Brazilian Walnut) used for decking.
He beautifies the wood, but doesn’t erase its history. In the board Langley is holding below, you can see the indentation from the hinge — now part of the wood’s new life as a skateboard.
History is important to Langley, who lives in the home where he grew up in ʻEwa Beach — once he shared it with his parents, now with wife Terri and their three dogs. The pride he takes in his hometown is why he named his skateboard venture Hau Bush Board Company.
“Nothing is named after Hau Bush,” Langley says. “I wanted to get the name out there in a positive way.”
Langley’s had the idea to make skateboards for years, but he’s really put most of the work in in 2019.
He started prototyping the boards earlier this year, testing trucks and wheels by riding them around himself. The goal, Langley told me: “If it’s gon’ break, break on me.”
Handmade Boards Inspired By Hawaiian History And Hawaiian Waters
Langley knew he wanted to work with wood, but he didn’t want to build just anything. He wanted to be working on something with a connection to his ancestors. That’s why his skateboard designs are inspired by the Alaia, the style of surfboard used by ancient Hawaiians.
The designs usually come to him in the water — he surfs Hau Bush whenever the waves are up.
Then it’s a matter of gluing the pieces together, then cutting, sanding, and staining. Langley adds a coat of marine varnish to help the boards hold up in the salty ʻEwa air, then a texturized spray that helps a rider’s feet grip the board.
Every step is done by hand. Says Langley: “You cannot go to any Walmart and take these off the shelf.”
If you’re interested in buying a board, message Langley via Instagram.
What’s Next For Hau Bush Board Co.
Langley has sold a few skateboards — mostly to people who want to use them as decor. He still wants to see them in action, though.
He plans to do some informal product testing with local skaters, so if you frequent Kapolei Skatepark, keep an eye out for him — he might give you a free ride on one of his boards.
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