Willis Kimbel: The Quiver

We looked into the evolution of Willis Kimbel‘s setup in our December issue. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough room in the mag for his ever-expanding quiver (with over 20 boards). Thankfully TWSKATE.COM has a little extra space. Click through for the story behind each setup including a lethally sharp cruiser, a repurposed deck from his Rip Writer pile, and a frontside air on a piece of plywood.

“I've been riding the Jason Jessee shape a lot and I got some blanks from NHS, not even cut yet. I just traced the Jason Jessee board and modified it to make it not quiet as extreme and then for some reason I just painted that Indian war paint on there. Out of all the boards I've ever made that's the one that I tried the hardest on and it came out the way that I wanted.” – Willis Kimbel

“I just ran that board for a long time. It was just my normal board. Never became a cruiser, never became a rain board. I still love that board. It's got Salba trucks on it. They're down to the axle both of them.” – Willis Kimbel

“That Jason Jessee shape is different that all the Guadalupe one. It's tapered down a little and has a little bit wider nose. The first one in the list it's a blend between the Guadalupe, with that one. Guadalupe was too big and extreme and that one was a little too mellow. So I tried to find a happy medium.” – Willis Kimbel

“That's the one that I made the Gary Coleman up on. That has an amazing tail pocket, the rip grip, and OJ wheels patch on the front so you can really tweak backside airs. After 300 backside airs in one day it (your thumb) definitely starts to wear out, if you have good grip tape. So you just gotta keep that thumb from going down to the bone by throwing a little rip grip one there.” – Willis Kimbel

“With the Coffin Rider Everslick I was like ‘All right that thing is pretty quirky. I might as well just get the quirkiest OJ wheels on there.’ The Little Doodies. For some reason when people come over and want to borrow a board that's the one they pick. That's the weird one. It's got the OJ patch on there too. I got some backside airs on that thing, a couple inverts, and just a lot of bombing hills and slappies. Those wheels are amazing for slappyies.” – Willis Kimbel

“That's just straight Darren Navarette inspiration. He has a board pretty much exactly like that at his house. Whenever I'd stay in Pacific Beach with him, that was the board out of his quiver that I'd want to ride really bad. It's just a 10" wide pig shape, huge deck. It's the ultimate alley cruiser, stand still and you're chillin'. 215's. That one's the shit. I wish we still made that shape. The wheels are 75mm OJs.” – Willis Kimbel

“Creature saw everybody making these little gimmick, small surfboards. So Lee [Charron] was like ‘How ’bout we make 'em out of metal, so sharp it's dangerous. It'll be bad ass.’ It is so sharp on the nose, if that thing hit your ankle, it'd go right through it. That board was so dangerous, not only could they not sell them but they had to prove that they had all been destroyed. They were 20, 24 of them and they had to get a clip of the mill taking all those boards and throwing them in to a kiln. They had to prove that they'd destroyed them.” – Willis Kimbel

“One day when I was broke, again, I went into my garage and was like ‘What can I do?’ It's pouring rain. I'd applied to jobs and hadn’t heard anything back. I said fuck it, and I took my skateboards, sanded 'em, and put chalked board and magnetic paint over it. Then I took a tail from another board and screwed it in as a shelf. It was like this chalkboard memo station made out of recycled board. I ended up getting it patented and everything and it's all my idea. It’s called the ‘Rip Writer.‘ That board was in the stack of boards that were sanded and ready to become a chalkboard. I re-looked at it, because I was going through a Jason Jessee phase, and was like ‘Oh my God, I need that.’ So that's why it's all wood grain like that. I actually showed up for a Creature tour on that and that thing went all the way from San Diego to Florida and back. It was in the graveyard. Double graveyard. Graveyard to embalmed and then brought back.” – Willis Kimbel

“A buddy needed a Creature board for his son. He owns a very small company called 'Cold War' out of Portland. And before I skated for Creature, this guy, his name's Grover, he wanted to sponsor me. I was so hyped. He didn't give me a board yet but he gave me two shirts. He hooked me up, then Creature hooked me up and I had to tell him. I felt so bad, I was like ‘Dude, I can't do it.’ He was cool with that. Then a couple years later he was like ‘What do I gotta do to get a Creature board?’ and I was like ‘What do I gotta do to get a Cold War board?’ So we traded. It's got a Falcons and Cardinals sticker on there from the quarter machine, I fucking hate both those teams. That one's actually got a lot of miles on it.” – Willis Kimbel

“That's just another one of the old ones. Gotta get my dad on the line for that one. I have no idea. That thing had clay wheels and is old as shit.” – Willis Kimbel

“That's actually a Steve Steadham deck. We called it ‘The Damager’. I don't know why. Murdered it out, put the Hosoi's [wheels] on there and tried to get down to the axle real quick. It's kind of like how you'd name a car. You know, name your car ‘Black Betty’ or whatever the fuck you want to name it. That one got named The Damager.” – Willis Kimbel

“I had to have a Brent [Ashley] board. I got respect for Brent. I actually bought that board. Idny came out with those new 99s. I put 'em on there and didn't know what wheels to put on there so I got these Road Captains that were 80mm. I don't know why I put 'em on there. They're hilarious and didn't function that well. It's like a four-foot dude with size 18 shoes. I had smaller wheels on at one point. I've skated it a little bit a Burnside for sure.” – Willis Kimbel

It's a little bit squash tail, not square tail, squash tail. The nose was short so you could just creep in the shallow end and get a way with it. That board [Creature Pool Service] was a hit. I kind of wish we still made that board. I had like 149s on that one. That could have been why I was into that one too, because it felt different and it was smaller. That was my normal board for a long time then I had to make it a cruiser. It's a personal Hall Of Fame for my boards if they get to turned into cruiser boards.” – Willis Kimbel

“This is a board that was made by one of my dad's old buddys from the 70s who was super into slalom racing. He made me this board for my height and weight for slalom. I won't deny it, I back slalom a little bit. If I'm gonna have 20 boards, I've got to have at least one slalom board. Technically I'm the reigning World Skater Cross Champion of slalom [laughs]… I was super broke. I was living with Gravette. I hitch hike down to this race. I rode my normal board, I didn't even ride a slalom board. They had all these jump kicker ramps and cones. It was the weirdest track. I ended up winning it. I won five grand and I got this six-foot tall trophy and it says I'm world champ and shit [laughs]. It was one of the best days of my life and it slalom so fuck it, I got a slalom board.” – Willis Kimbel

“That's my street board. Hardflips and rails and shit. It's my little board. It's an 8.8. It's got 169s and Omar Hassan's OJ wheel on it. 55mm. I love those wheels.” – Willis Kimbel

That's a Lance Mountain board. I was turned on to that one because it had wheel wells. Lance has some shit figured out. I was like ‘I want to see what this dude's driving.’ It was narrower than I prefer, but still, he's got a bitchin' shape. I really dug his wheel wells because you could just snap carves and get away with murder pretty much.” – Willis Kimbel


“I set that board up right when just right Mark Hubbard built the vert ramp [in Seattle]. I didn't know when I was going to get to go and homies where doing random trips up there. So I had just set up an 8.8 with Hosoi trucks and Hosoi wheels, a little fly high inspiration. That was my minute man board for vert. Ready to go. That thing got worn down. That was a good board. That was just vert ramp only. That one never saw the rain.” – Willis Kimbel

“That was the shittiest, most worn-out rain cruiser we've got. With the bigger wheels you've got more surface area, you can just get away with more. People love bombing hills but they don't even know that if they had wider wheels they could bomb a soaking wet hill in the pitch rain and power slide. It's the shit.” – Willis Kimbel

“When I got hooked on the Jason Jessee, I was going crazy trying shapes and I tried the Tom Knox Santa Cruz. It was good for street, slappy-style stuff. It turned into a nice wide drunken cruiser.” – Willis Kimbel

“That one's a Jeff Kendall board. No offense to Jeff Kendall, I just threw a big Indy sticker on there. I rode this as a wet cruiser board. That board was mainly used for when we'd blow torch Pier Park dry. We'd have someone pumping this in the flat bottoms to roll the water up the walls to dry it out. That was a very common brew run board. I also got into a phase where I skated a lot of Pier Park on it.” – Willis Kimbel

“That was my favorite normal Jason Jessee board I had ever had. Salba 169s on it. A couple random 75mm. This is what I was talking about when a normal board goes into the Hall Of Fame by making it a cruiser. It's incredible what new grip tape on a board can do. From your view, it's brand new.” – Willis Kimbel

“Those riser pads are actually made of skateboard. Peter Gunn, he made those. He would cut around the bolt holes and sand them down and make risers out of old skateboards. I saw those, and I was tinkering at the workbench, and I was like ‘I want to use those right now. Since he made the risers, I'm gonna make a skate board.’ The wood was just already in that shape as is. The 2×4 in the back, I just cut to fit and then cut it long ways to make it a triangle. 215s looked good so I just threw 'em on there. I remember I didn't have any hardware long enough to go through it so I just screwed drywall screws from the bottom up through the top and just hammered 'em side ways. There way no grip tape, there was just bent over screws with little threads. I ended up skating that at Burnside for at least a week. That thing was fun. I always thought it was going to fall apart while I was skating it. It was extreme paranoia. I had just hammered the screws in, they were pretty much broken. I didn't expect them to last as long as they did.” – Willis Kimbel

Frontside air. Photo: Garric Ray

 “I always thought it was going to fall apart while I was skating it. It was extreme paranoia.”