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Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Sawyer Wooden Board Company

Posted on August 29, 2014
Filed Under Made by Tahoe

His love for Lake Tahoe and paddling naturally led to the creation of his small wooden stand up paddle board manufacturing company in South Lake Tahoe.

Meet Garrett Villanueva, co-owner of Sawyer Wooden Board Company.

Garrett and his partner Jacob Quinn, have extensive backgrounds in woodworking, sustainable building design (LEED certified), and a deep passion for surfing, stand up paddling and the environment.

Inspired to build a better board to fit their needs and the waters they paddle, Garrett and Jacob started building custom wooden boards for themselves in June 2009.  It wasn’t long before the board performance, sustainable engineering and aesthetics attracted interest by other paddlers, and the Sawyer Wooden Board Company, named after Garrett’s daughter, was launched.

Besides the artistry of the board design, the company’s commitment to sustainable practices has been at the core of their early success. Choosing materials, processing, and manufacturing transportation methods that reduce the impact to humans and the environment are key company tenets.

Boards are made entirely from wood and are hollow on the inside.  Whenever possible they seek suitable reclaimed wood and sustainably harvested cedar from blown down trees and from forest health projects in Lake Tahoe. Currently, they are using old growth cedar salvaged from the 2007 Angora fire, which was purchased from the Forest Service and milled locally.

Perhaps the greatest contribution of a wood board is its expanded lifespan which is 10 times that of a foam core board. Sawyer WBC also has two building techniques which they call fishbone and parallel profile that reduces hazardous materials. The parallel profile boards do not require fiberglass.  Materials such as S2 glass and epoxy resin also help to reduce the overall footprint on the environment and unhealthy effects on the people who create them. In addition to acquiring materials and products nearby, they work with other wooden boat builders in the area to combine orders to help reduce transportation emissions. While they admit their boards are not perfectly sustainable, they are constantly evaluating the process and materials in order to build boards that last and require a smaller overall footprint to construct.

Sawyer Wooden Board Company carries five stand up paddle boards, and one surfboard.   Besides their tried and true boards, they are kept busy building custom boards to suit the water conditions, style, size and user ability.  Currently, when he’s not out skiing Garrett is working on a long board surfboard, a stand up paddle surfboard, and an all around board.

And on the docket for release in 2011, is a Lake Tahoe specific board that will glide efficiently and track well.

For quality control, Garrett and Jacob are constantly testing their boards.  In the winter, they travel to the coast for surf.  But most often, they jump on their bikes and head to Lake Tahoe in their backyard almost daily during the summer and especially on storm days to ride wind generated swells and surf.  Garrett is hooked on stand up paddling not only for the intense workout on his core, but the bird’s eye view of life beneath the surface and unobtrusive communion with nature.

“Lake Tahoe is an outstanding place to stand up paddle and we find our inspiration from paddling on the lake, creating works of art, and giving customers stoke about owning a great and unique board. The clear water, incredible scenery, and moods of the lake always make for interesting paddling.”  Garrett Villanueva

If you’d like to learn more, Garrett is happy to share his techniques, hull designs, and a beer.  You can contact Garrett at 530-307-1075 or garrett@sawyerwbc.com

If you are interested in seeing how the boards are constructed, please visit www.sawyerwbc.com.

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