You Are Here: Luke Studer, Shaper

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / April 7, 2011


You Are Here, Nathan Myers

“They come out best when you shape ‘em fast,” Luke Studer tells me with a convincing nod. The board is 5’7” — whipped out in a fluid 30 minutes for his team rider Dede Suryana, Indo’s only hope on the World Tour. Studer is already starting another board. I think he wants to go surfing today. I don’t blame him. The waves are good. They’re always good.

Back in Huntington Beach, CA — where he grew up influenced by upperclassman like the Turner brothers and Travis Potter — Studer used to spend his off-season months pumping out production boards for the bigger labels just to save up cash for his annual Indo trips. Like his influences, Luke’s a certified, card-carrying tube junkie: addicted to unnameable outer island reef passes with brutal consequences and life-retarding experiences. (He once asked if he should enter an Innersection with just one wave — a single barrel shot.)


Luke Studer — Bali’s one-man surfboard assembly line. Photo: Myers


Eventually he thought, “Maybe I should just stay.” Or maybe it was the local girl he knocked up who thought that for him…I forgot to ask the details. Either way, he stayed. He shaped. And he shaped some more. Luke doesn’t go back to Huntington Beach much. Instead, he’s living his dream in a busted warehouse outside Denpasar. Shaping. Surfing. Building a label, a team, even his own “surfboards only” surf shop in an age when such things seem the sole property of major shapers and conglomerated octo-shapers.

Like the uprooted culture he’s part of, Studer’s boards are a celebratory fusion of everything we’ve learned. Modern shortboards. Tuberiders. Step-downs. He’s not reinventing the wheel. He’s trying to wow the hype-sters with the Next Big Thing. He’s simply building good surfboards for people surfing good waves. Here in Indo, nobody’s jumping off their SUP foot-strapped alaia because they’re bored of getting barreled. When the waves are good, people don’t think like that. They just go surfing.


What, you think Wonka don’t eat chocolate? Studer tests his trade in Indo.


The foam dust is still settling and a fresh blank is already running through the shaping machine when Luke sits down for a moment’s conversation:


SURFING: Is it easier to be a shaper in Bali than back in the center of the universe?
Luke Studer: Obviously. It’s less competitive here. The waves are better. More people are coming through. More people are breaking boards. Back in the US and Australia you’re just a small fish in a big pond. All the big names just dominate: Rusty, Merrick, …Lost, that’s all people want to buy.

Do you think those big labels’ reputations are justified?
Of course. Those guys have been at it the longest. They deserve it. They designed the modern shortboard. And the stuff Merrick is doing these days in terms of R&D with Burton, that’s on another level. They’ll probably change the game. I just make surfboards.

Oh, has Merrick done something with all that?
No. But it will.

Do you ever feel you need to hide the secrets of shaping from the locals for fear of them breaking away on their own?
Not really. At the end of the day, surfers generally want to buy boards from surfers. People don’t want boards from people who don’t surf. We saw that with the China boards. Maybe it’s okay for beginners and stuff, but they’re not really selling to real surfers. There are a few Indo shapers out there doing good boards, but most Western surfers tend to buy boards from Western shapers.

Do you have a proudest shaping moment?
I’m just happy being where I am right now. I’ve come a long way in the last four years — from making five boards a month to making 50 boards a month. Now I’m about to open my own shop. So, that’s all pretty huge for me.


The board is finishing in the machine, but Luke just leaves it for later. He blasts the foam from his shirt and sandals and excuses himself to check the surf. He’s a busy man. —Nathan Myers


Forget the hassle and boardbag fees and order ahead at:



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  • DaveO

    Livin the dream.

  • Svenbo

    cool video like motion portrait.

  • Nick Thomson

    Better idea to order boards before you go and have ’em waiting. Saves the hassle and fees. Plus boards are made for Indo waves, not Cali mush. Thanks for link…might just order one now.

  • Obermeyer

    Just another HB white boy stealing jobs from the locals.

  • JR

    Obermeyer probably rides a boogie board. That is the hardest working HB white boy you ever met, and stealing work from the locals? you should go there those people are great but not sharpest tools in the shed.

  • ghendo

    obermeyer sounds like a kook that doesnt know s..t stick to riding a boogie board barney, that hb white boy is my friend and hes killing it good for him, what kind of kook bags on a brother for living his dream oh yeah his name is obermeyer

  • Glen P.

    JC singing about JC makes me wanna buy surfboards. No, really. It does.

  • shutdown

    Even if he were to be “stealing jobs from the locals”, where are the jobs in America, Mr. Wilbur Ober-queer-meyer?

  • Steve Shearer

    The sleds look fine and the gig is good.

    Why does the cat look so angry?

  • Niko

    Been enjoying Surfing’s mini profiles online. Keep up the good work. Best site in the game these days (now that Stab has reverted to regurgitating old news like everyone else).

  • Al

    Great read.

  • gumbi

    Could this guy shape me a board like Zoltan Torkos? I want to pull a white water kick-flip to homo claim or maybe ride on top of my board in 8 inch slop.

  • Styles

    Luke is the man. Go Dede.

  • Benj

    The man maka the gud board.

  • ant

    the golden age for making boards was in the 90s and even early 2000s but mass production changed all that for better or worse, the western world just got too smart for itself I believe the Indos are slowly catching up but for the time being good luck to this shaper and may he always find shade in the barrel

  • Shane

    This guy is a tool i met him in bali. Cant even surf thats why his boards look so shitty… Im from hb to. Another international exploiting the beautiful indonesian people. its a pity when the video is edited better then the video.

  • Rider

    Luke Studer is not stealing jobs from people but rather pushing forward to create a whole new local industry that previously was completely dependent on Imported surfboards. The local surfing industry is now flourishing and Luke is just one of the great shapers behind that push forward in local production in Bali. Whatever his story is now, success or not, i hope that luke continously will give back to Bali what she has given him.

  • Leigh Crichton

    Just wanting to order a surfboard from you to be ready for pick up on the 4/5/2013 your web site must be down can you give me a idea when it will be back up and running. Cheers Leigh Crichton Noosa