How Long does it Really Take to Setup a Skateboard?


What’s this image of Jake Anderson got to do with a skate tool? Not a whole lot apart from the obvious. But is sure is a nicer way to start an article than a picture of a silver doo-hickey.

If it’s broke, fix it.

That’s how the saying goes, right? If it’s a broken board, well, you can’t fix that. Gotta set up a new one. I got my hands on this new, patent-pending skate tool called the Board Sword. Without looking into where it came from, I decided to set up a new board and see how long it would take. I’ve never timed myself setting up a skateboard, but I’m pretty sure it takes somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10-25 minutes, depending on your level of focus. I’ve also never had a problem setting up a board any other way; a unit tool or just, ya know, a regular socket wrench and screwdriver or drill. These tools require additional help—notably a razor blade for cutting the grip tape and less-notably something with a rough edge to score the grip tapeand the Board Sword apparently has all that stuff included. There’s a time and place for all tools. For instance, you wouldn’t be travelling with a drill so you’d be more likely to use a unit tool on the road. It’s a wonderful feeling when a tool and its use comes together, a synergy of design and engineering—something doing what it’s made to do in the situation it’s made to do it in. Is there a place in the skate tool canon for the Board Sword? Let’s see how this goes as I time myself setting up a board.

00:00: Alright, let’s hit it. First off: this in no way resembles a sword. I guess there’s sort of a handle and these screwdrivers mimic a sword blade. This thing is two pieces held together by a magnet and can definitely fit in your pocket. One piece is all the screwdrivers, which fold-out: a phillips, an ⅛ allen, a flathead for some reason (I’ve never seen flathead bolts but there’s space on this thing so why not?), and a scoring tool. The other is all the sockets for the nuts. That’s amazingly close to saying nut sockets, wow. I put grip on my new deck and am now going to use that scoring tool to draw the edge.

It’s neat, we’ll give it that.

00:48: That worked alright. Now I need to cut off the excess grip. There’s this little part with a scissor icon next to it which must be for that.

03:01: This is taking a lot longer than a razor. It’s annoying coming around the curve of the board.

03:35: Got the excess griptape off. I much prefer a regular razor as this seemed to only work if you held the small tool at the perfect angle. I feel like a razor would have taken a fraction of the time.

04:45: After rubbing down the grip a bit to get some of the grit out of there I’m taking the bolts off. I’ll have to use both sides of the tool.

05:08: This seems to work OK. It’s doing the job. Whoa! The magnet that holds the two pieces together caught the nut from falling. It magnetized right to it. That’s actually really helpful as I’ve dropped many a nut and bolt doing this.

05:40: Got two nuts off.

06:16: So much for not dropping the nuts, I dropped the whole tool. I wouldn’t have dropped a unit tool or a screwdriver.

07:02: Got the first truck off. Now we’re cooking with gas.

09:31: Second truck is off.

09:52: Damn my grip tape is ragged. Really wish I had a razor to clean this up.

11:41: Finished poking the holes in my grip for the bolts using the scoring tool. This thing does seem to accomplish all the necessary tasks that go into setting up a board.

13:45: I’m tightening the bolts on the first truck. It’s working, but definitely more difficult with this tool because of the small amount of surface area to grip. It’s hard when the bolts are almost all the way in to get the right force to tighten them. I’m stripping my bolts a bit.

15:58: First truck on. Putting on the second truck.

19:10: Alright. Setup. 19 minutes. Not too bad. I spend another two minutes taking a wheel off and putting it on to make sure it does that. It does it. It also tightens kingpins fine.

Now that I’m done using it, I look for a website and find out that the Board Sword is made by a company called Fix Manufacturing. I learn that the piece of the tool with the sockets is called the “J-wrench,” because of its shape, and that it’s made of stainless steel. The other piece is made of a carbon steel alloy which has some vanadium added in and is finished with a nickel plating. That stuff’s stronger, apparently, and can handle more torque. Both metals were rigorously tested for their anti-erosion properties so rest assured you can get the tool good and wet. I click around the site and the most recent blog post is about Steve Caballero turning 40—uninteresting enough for me to leave. I did learn that they make other tools, though, which makes total sense. In a pinch, they’re great. They take up virtually no space (Fix Manufacturing uses a matchbox for size comparison) and will tighten what needs tightening. The magnetized piece that prevents the nuts from falling is important, given that there’s no actual socket for them to fall into. I wonder if this was the original intention or just luck because the tool needed to be magnetized anyway. The razor part will get the job done if there’s nothing else around but an actual razor is much easier. Bonus: there’s a bottle opener here which is nothing to frown about. The Board Sword is small, elegant, and definitely works. The only time I’d ever see myself using it, though, is if I need to carry a tool and don’t have a bag for the slightly-larger unit tool. Which is never.

If size is your thing, though, this’ll do.

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