Best buds Kent Scovill and Kyle Schaefer want to make Eliot the paddleboard mecca of New England. The guys are launching an online paddleboard store next month.
It started when a friend left a board at their house. Kyle had been fly fishing from a kayak: swinging a nine-foot fishing rod forward and back while sitting in a deep seat of a boat. Needless to say his shoulder was on fire after each trip. Kyle was eyeing that stand-up paddleboard.
Kyle’s dad is a woodworker and Kent is a third-generation woodworker — why buy what you can make? They measured the foam board and from those measurements designed their own out of cedar. It took an entire winter to build.
They both smile remembering bringing it to the water for the first time.
“We just screamed, ‘IT FLOATS!’” Kent said.
Now the friends have a few boards under their (tool) belts and are going commercial with Tidal Roots. The company is launching an online store in late May. All the boards will be built from cedar and other reclaimed woods, and they’re all put together in Kyle and Kent’s basement and barn (they live together with their other builder friend).
The board starts as just a long, thin, flat piece of wood with slots in it where the ribs will be placed. Then they add the thin, flat ribs. By then, the paddleboard looks like a fish skeleton. That’s when the real work starts. Kyle and Kent find large pieces of cedar and saw and plane them into thin and flat pieces to put on the top and bottom of the fish-skeleton. Sometimes they throw in a few pieces of mahogany or barn siding for a different look. By filleting the wood in half and laying the two identical halves next to each other the men make the paddleboard look perfectly symmetrical — the wood grain is a mirror image of itself.
At this point in their business, it’s all word of mouth and, for the most part, they’ve found free wood. As they grow, they’d like to stick to reclaimed wood (mostly white and western red cedar).
“We want people to believe in the product. If you’re standing on a board made of floorboards from a farmhouse floor from the 1800s, that’s a story,” Kyle said. “We want to build boards with wood from New England in a sustainable way.”
Tidal Roots is going to make 10-, 11- and 12-foot boards (although they said if Shaquille O’Neal calls them, they will make him a longer one) for recreational users, like fly fishermen. They also plan to design a special yoga paddleboard. The boards weigh between about 25-35 pounds, cost $2,700-$3,500, and are customizable.
“We want a 40-year-old man to step on these and not be intimidated,” Kyle said.
Building is fun, and the men — Kyle, 29, in marketing, Kent, 27, in building — would like to make it their day jobs and build out a full storefront in Eliot. But the best part?
“Fishing in shallow water. It’s amazing to see a fish and cast to that specific fish,” Kyle said.