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Sunday, May 26, 2013



by Johnny

Throughout all of my skateboarding years I've had a lot of decks. Big and fat, skinny and narrow, short and long.
Either buying a deck at a shop in person or, of course, in the last few years, ordering them online, the one thing that always worries me about ordering a deck before I personally can see and measure it and put it down under my feet is deck length.
The inconsistency of deck length measurements between different companies is very frustrating.
A deck that may be advertised as 8.25 X 32 and then comes in and measures out to be 8.25 X 32.5 is enough to bum me out.
If I want a deck that's a little bit longer in the first place then ok, I don't care, I asked for that, but if I get a deck because of its exact advertised dimensions, something that I hunted down to find and saved up the money for and had my heart set on it being exactly what I paid that money to be and it isn't, yeah I'm pissed.

I tend to prefer somewhat shorter decks, 32" is the sweet spot for me. A little bit shorter is ok, down to around 31.5", and 32.25" isn't too bad on the longer side either, but even that feels a tad long. I've never really had any problems with getting inconsistently advertised deck widths, the width is usually always pretty spot on.
It's always the lengths that give me trouble. There's nothing I'm more uncomfortable on than when my board feels like a Cadillac when I wanted a Corvette.

A deck's wheelbase can be off from what's advertised as well, and I'm sure we all know that's even more of a big pain in the ass. But that's not something where a deck manufacturer's measuring method comes into play, that's just the company putting in the wrong measurements into their catalog, etc. Wheelbase is probably the most important thing to a deck as a shorter/longer wheelbase affects the rider's balance and their stance when doing tricks or, say, skating a bowl.
A 1/4" difference on wheelbase feels a lot more different than deck width or length. An 8.25" vs 8.5" deck isn't going to feel as different as a 14.5" vs 14.75" wheelbase will.

A deck that has more/less concave or a steeper/flatter nose/tail can also affect how wide and long it feels under your feet, and it measures different too.
A steeper nose and tail will make a deck feel shorter because they bend up higher which in turn brings them closer pointed in towards the center, thus making the deck appear shorter when looking down and standing on it.
A deck with a steeper concave will feel more narrow than the actual width it's advertised as because the edges are bent up closer towards the center.
This will make an 8.25" deck with steep concave actually look and feel more like an 8.1". Flatter boards all around tend to be the only decks that actually feel like what they are exactly measured out to be. It's all in what you are used to skating, and what you are comfortable on, everybody is different and likes different things. These problems with deck measurements from brand to brand are a mirror of the way it is with skate shoe companies as well, every brand's shoes fit differently because they all don't use the same measuring methods. I think we need a system people, it's 2013, can't we get this shit right yet!?!?
So, chances are if you've been skating the same size board from one deck company for a number of years, then you are actually NOT skating the size you really think you are.
Therein lies the problem when buying boards from companies you haven't skated before and ordering your preferred size, thinking it will feel like what you are used to skating,
And then it doesn' is why.

It's clear that each company measures their decks somewhat differently than the next. I was tired of playing the guessing game and always coming up disappointed.
So, I sent a number of deck brands and distribution companies emails asking flat out how they measure their boards' deck lengths.
Getting these answers took over a month of waiting and re-asking, and a lot of companies have still not gotten back to me yet.

Here are the exact answers I got, as well as some pictures to show you the different ways skateboard decks are measured.

REAL/DLX - "Grip side from tip of nose to tail no contour".
(DLX is Real, Anti-Hero, Krooked)

SKATE ONE - "Surface area on the bottom of the deck. Graphic side with contour". - Kam
(Skate One is Powell Peralta, Mini Logo, Positiv, Hoopla)

NHS - "Straight ruler from tip to tip on the top. Not with the contour". - Ron Whaley
NHS Fun Factory - "It's overall length nose to tail. It's the same both ways. ie, if you lay a bendable tape measure down on the board and measure from nose to tail".
(NHS is Santa Cruz, Creature, Flip)

BIGMESS SKATEBOARDS - "From the top side with the measuring device having full contact with the deck the whole time, end to end".

BIRDHOUSE - "We measure width by the distance from rail to rail in the middle of the deck. Length is from nose to tail, not following the contour".

FOUNDATION - "We measure the top deck through width and length...not measuring through concave".

ASSAULT SKATEBOARDS - "Top, with a soft tape".

WELCOME SKATEBOARDS - "grip side with contour". OP

TOY MACHINE - "measured the top deck through width and length. boards are not measured through concave".

ELEPHANT BRAND SKATEBOARDS - "Grip side (top) and push down the tape into the contours of the deck".

BLACK LABEL - "Grip side with contours".

STEREO - "Nose to tail. Straight across the top of the deck".

SHIPYARD -  "The shop that makes them measures from the top. Pushing the tape measure down as you go from tip to tail".

DECKCRAFTERS - "Grip side of deck with ruler curved with the contour of the deck".

CRAILTAP - "Grip side".
(Crailtap is Girl, Chocolate)

Stereo 8.25x32 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.125".  
Stereo 8.25x32 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 31.625".
Stereo 8.25x32 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.25".
Stereo decks are Made in Mexico by PS Stix. They said that they measure straight across the top of the deck length, but when I did that I see that the advertised size is not the 32" they say it is, but 31.625".
The closest measurement I can get to the advertised 32" was measuring with the contour on the top, it was 32.125", which still wasn't accurate. Measuring the bottom with the contour the deck measured in at 32.25".
Either the person who gave me the info was misinformed, or they are rounding off. This particular deck shape I really, really love, and it's a very different shape 8.25" deck than the other 8.25" decks in their lineup.
Websites like Skate Warehouse have top, side and bottom pics of all the decks they sell. This helps alot when looking out for a certain shape, even within a single brand.
Chocolate Pop Secret 8.5x32 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.625".
Chocolate Pop Secret 8.5x32 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 32".
Chocolate Pop Secret 8.5x32 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.875".
Chocolate/Crailtap decks are Made in China. All they told me was that they measure "Grip side".
Not too informative, but I'll work with it. The only measurement where I get the advertised 32" was measuring straight across on top without the contour. Measuring the top with the contour it came out to be 32.625", and measuring the bottom with the contour it measured in at 32.875". Either way this deck feels great and skates really well, but feels very long, much longer than, say, my usual favorite size 32" long Stereo deck, which when measured the way this Chocolate deck came out at 32" (straight across the top), actually measured 31.625". This can be so frustrating and confusing.

Here's the measuring anomaly of the bunch -

Skate One (Powell Peralta, Mini Logo) measure their decks entirely different than every single other brand that has answered me. They are the only company that measures their boards from the bottom/graphic side.
Here's 2 Mini Logo decks measurements, lengths and widths. 
The green one is a 2013 "Made In China" Mini Logo Militant deck. 
(all Mini Logo decks are now Made in China, but the great quality remains the exact same). 
The blue one is a 2011 "Made in Santa Barbara, CA USA" deck, this deck is the exact same thing as a Powell Peralta 8.5x33.5 shape 181 deck is, just without the Powell Peralta graphics.
Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.3".
Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 31.81".
Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 32.5".
The Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 deck is just too damn long for me. I like the the width, nose and tail lengths just right and the concave is ok too, but wish the 33.5" length and 15" wheelbase were shorter. I thought maybe the 8.25x32.5 K15 Skate One deck would be the happy medium between this 8.5x33.5 K15 deck that was just too damn long and the 8"x32.125 K12 Skate One deck that I really love but sometimes feels is a bit too slim. The 8.25" deck uses the same K15 mold as the 8.5", but the 14.375" wheelbase of the 8" deck. The shape is not bad, but it really wasn't the perfect of the 2 decks I thought it would be. Instead it feels like its own unique shape overall. I really wish Skate One would start making a more mellower, medium concave again, and a shorter 8.5" deck. The 8.5" decks that the Powell Peralta pros ride are NOT the same 8.5" decks we can get from Skate One. Not only have I been told by a Skate One employee that the pros (like Jordan Hoffart and Chad Bartie) get custom size decks, but it's also pretty obvious when you watch clips that it's not a 33.5" long deck flipping around. You ever try to do a front foot impossible to lipslide on an almost f'n 34" deck? No, me neither, and neither does Jordan Hoffart, I can tell you that. My guess is that their pros like him that skate 8.5" decks are probably getting the Skate One shape 171 8.5x32.5, 14.375 wheelbase, with the mellower Ki11 concave. Skate One stopped making these decks a few years back, but their sizes still remain on the manufacturing page on their website. Manufacturing - Skate One
Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 top w/ the contour. Length measures to 33.125".
Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 top w/ no contour. Length measures to 32.625".
Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 bottom w/ the contour. Length measures to 33.5".
Skate One makes some of the best skateboard decks in the world, but their popsicle shapes are a little different than what most are used to. They are wider towards the front bolts and slimmer towards the back bolts. These two decks have Skate One's steepest concave which is the K15. This steep concave also makes their decks feel a bit slimmer than they are when they're down under your feet.  

Mini Logo 8.25x32.5 -
At front bolts 8.2", at center 8.25", back bolts 8.1". 
Mini Logo 8.5x33.5 -
At front bolts 8.375", at center 8.5", back bolts 8.25".
I'm still waiting to hear back from Dwindle (Almost, Enjoi, Blind, Cliche) and a few others on how they measure the length of their decks. When I do get that info I will add it up above to the list.

In the end, sizes and measurements really don't matter, it's all how good it feels when we skate them.
Sometimes a deck that we'd thought would either be too small or too big just feels right, and it skates really good. It just sucks when you think you are getting one thing and it's another. It turns out being a different size than what you wanted and you would have gone with another deck if you knew it wasn't quite the actual size it was advertised as, at least according to your own measuring methods. But you already paid the shipping, waited the 7 days or even weeks to get it in the mail and you are so itching to go skate now. We've all been there before. Long live the walk-in skate shop, may they never go away. Always try to support your local shop first, but if they don't have the deck you are looking for, and they can't order one for you, or, well, you just can't trust them to get you "the actual deck you are looking for", then now you know how to guesstimate your measurements with better accuracy when you are forced to order online.
I hope this helps you all out when making your next deck purchase and you aren't able to personally measure it, or stand on it before you buy it.
Good luck out there!
- Johnny


  1. Straight stiff ruler on top of deck from edge to edge, measuring the OVERALL length, is how all decks should be measured. No sagging or bending of measurements. It's lame companies can't even get this right.

    1. i manufacture skateboards, we go contour because when you stand on it your foot falls/dips into the contour too. THAT makes sense.

    2. With all due respect, guy. As the consumer, I would much prefer the hard ruler edge to edge measurement. Especially when it comes to width, so that I know my 148 trucks are perfectly lined up with my 8.25 deck, regardless of concave. It's a must that my skate board sit flush while in primo. Also, I've gotta say Theories of Atlantis produce the best decks i've ever skated. Polar (company they distribute to) are very good about printing and listing all of their specs, WB, nose length, tail length, etc.. Which I very much appreciate. Sometimes with these other brands your lucky to have anything other than width listed. Anyway, I digress.

  2. I've been confused by width measurement in particular, assuming it is done straight across and ending up with a slightly narrower board than I expect. All around, I think it would be best if the official numbers were all with the contour (esp. since concave and nose/tail bends can be inconsistent), and it was clear that was the system.

    1.'d make the most sense. Especially with todays shapes.

    2. I find it important for my board width to be consistent with my truck width, regardless of how the concave may vary. That being said, I think the hard edge to edge measurement makes the most sense and concave taken into account second. I think all brands should make an effort to be as detailed as possible with their deck specs, but that's just me.

  3. Ya know what, I think it's because metal tape measures and meter stick type flat rulers are prob the only thing some companies have on hand when having to write in dimensions when they get asked, and they're too lazy to either bend the metal tape flat down and keep pushing it onto the deck all the way across nose to tail or going out and getting a bendable fabric type ruler.
    And Skate One must do it because of all their screen printed decals that become the heat transfers, those dimensions are used and they just use those numbers to keep it less confusing on there end w/ manufacturing and listing of the sizes of their decks.

  4. Aaaaand, here's where I geek out with engineering talk.

    There are two points of view when it comes to measuring products: the manufacturing process point of view and the consumer point of view.

    Those companies who measure their decks with the tape contoured to the deck are exercising the manufacturing process point of view. Because the machines are constructed and configured to certain specifications, the best way for the manufacturer to ensure consistent quality among products is to use measurements of the raw or in-process materials. This ensures that the materials will conform to the input specifications (also known as pre-conditions) of the machines in the assembly process, as well as comply with the output specifications (also known as exit criteria) of that machine's process step. For industrial purposes, then, decks should be measured using the manufacturing process point of view. An issue, though, is that the contour measurement technique does not take into account variations, either intended or mistaken, in the depth or shape of the concave. Deck manufacturers intent on a more thorough quality assessment would do well to use both the flat and the contour method, as well as some other techniques to assess the quality of the product.

    Those companies who measure the decks flat from tip to tip and side to side are exercising the consumer point of view. At the very least, there's credit carding to consider, so some skaters review deck length to make sure that the board won't injure their groin if the board gets between their legs. There are other consumer considerations that favor a flat measurement technique. One is visual perception of length (as Johnny discussed in his article here) . Another is the ability of most consumers to repeat the measurement using the tools most widely available to them. Another is that a flat measurement technique allows a consumer to more easily assess the depth of the concave. Yet, grip tape length considerations favor a contour measurement, so the consumer point of view is not absolutely on the side of the flat measurement technique.

    Which technique is right? The answer is that both techniques have potential utility. The utility of either technique is higher depending on your point of view.

    As many readers are aware, this blog has been gathering data regarding fit of certain skateboard deck sizes. It seems that deck measurements are the most sensitive of all the measurements. Even a small change in a deck specification will cause large effects in performance. (In comparison, wheel measurements seem to be widely regarded as the least sensitive. Going from a 52mm to a 53mm wheel will have only a relatively small effect on performance.) With the data I've been gathering and analyzing, I've been developing formulas that use preference and sensitivity factors to predict a more ideal deck size given certain body measurements and intended uses of the deck. Because of the way the deck length relates to certain body measurements for one formula, the ideal way to measure the deck for proper fit would be flat from tip to tip. However, other predictor formulas are more accurate using a contour measurement. There's a factor of size range that the flat measurement predicts, after which the contour measurement is used to predict a value in that range. However, the mathematical predictions from such a finely tuned formula generate answers well within the sensitivity factor for that measurement. This means that the flat measurement method is good enough for predicting those values, assuming the "Concave Preference" (flat/medium/steep for both side-to-side and nose and tail) is collected as an input variable.

    1. Right...the flat method makes the most sense for the actual skating part...but it's the variable of WHICH company measures which way to get what you like if you can't see it and measure on your own first.
      To measure a board with a flat ruler and have it come out to be say 31.5" long and then going online and ordering a deck that says it's 32" long and you may end up with a deck that is actually 33" long. And that's what I mean about how much of a crap shoot it is, and why it can be so frustrating.
      I like riding all different size boards - shape, length, width and concaves - BUT I still do have a preferred shape, which when trying to find a replacement of say that certain one, when it gets discontinued can be a pain in the ass.

  5. Here's the thing. If you have ever made skateboards, the process is very... very... how do I put this? You're working with wood, which is full of grain and warp and wobble... you're working with glues, which bond with the wood in ways that can fluctuate by batch and by barometrics... You're working with contours and concaves... you're working with tools like inflatable drum sanders and stuff like that...

    ...and as much as we all want it to be exact, scientific, and precise, with all our CNC and high-tech rhetoric...


    different dudes at the sanders will take length and width off the raws at different rates and totals.
    some boards have defects that can be buffed out, at the expense of final dimensions...

    and these factories: they are so far away
    they are so insulated from consequence
    and operate under such high demand
    with so very many brands under one roof
    ...that the brands have almost NO CONTROL over the final product. Most of them are happy to have anything to sell at all...

    the bottom line is: a company that produces a catalog simply CANNOT guarantee dimensional fidelity. That is just not the nature of skateboard production at the mass-production level.

    The answer, for those who are really invested in these dimensions, is to go to a shop and measure and pick from the wall, or have a custom job done.
    because you will NEVER be able to depend on the mass-production, factory model, to produce with the levels of fidelity that the catalogues are offering... sheesh--to the .001, some of these dimensions... nope. up to a quarter inch of difference, just at the sanders, sometimes.

    You could search for a company that makes, then measures, then catalogues... hmm... new way of doing it?

    1. Exactly, everything you said is very true. There's nothing like being able to hold a deck in your hands, throw it down on the ground and if you want measure it up personally.
      But - like I said, in today's world with so many shops closing down and or not having what you want readily available, we turn to the internet to get what we need - which usually ends up in a "settling" on the shape once you have it rather than a fully satisfied feeling of it being exactly what you "thought" it was going to be.
      And when so many companies are printing and putting out un-accurate dimensions my point was that there should be a "standard" set in stone system. But, like alot of the points you've made...that's easier said than done. Thank you for your input Fickle! Much appreciate it bro. =)

  6. So, I've been thinking a lot about this since it was posted.
    What I've been wondering is if overall length is something we should be hung up on. A few manufacturers like NHS have been providing wheelbase, nose and tail length. (I wish they still listed whether it was mellow, medium, or deep concave.)
    Having this information, I was wondering, what's the need for overall length? The tail length along with wheel and truck height is what effects the angle at which your ollies pop. Most "modern street" shapes have a nose that is slightly longer and steeper than the tail. I rarely do any nollie or switch stance skating so I assume this is something skaters who do skate nollie/switch want.
    So, if you don't want a deck over 32", where do you want to lose that length? The tail or the nose? Or the wheelbase? An 8x32 deck can have a pretty wide range of wheelbases and is going to skate pretty differently because of this.....
    Maybe it's better approach to figure out what wheelbase and nose/tail length you like, then there's no worry whether the manufacturer measures overall length flat or with the concave of the board?
    And lets hope manufacturers ALL start providing these measurements. Not too long ago all you got was width and (sometimes) length.

    1. Right, and we could get the deck length by adding the nose and tail and wheelbases together, but we'd also then need to add both of the 2" gaps between each trucks bolt holes.

  7. Hi, could you suggest a deck (model, brand, manufacturer) that makes parallel, flat rails for rail stands and primo tricks? Thank you.

    1. Yes! Glad you asked. I know 2 deck companies that make decks with straight rails.
      You'll be fine with the Almost shapes for the 7.6 and 8.0 widths. Word is, the 7.9 has straight rails, but upon inspection, I didn't like the shape for freestyle tricks, the concave of the 7.9 at the nose and tail would dig in too much and make primo spins difficult. Make sure to get the Flat concave version of whatever deck you're getting.
      Alien Workshop has an 8.25" shape with straight rails. I like the non-pro AWS decks the best for freestyle / rail/primo tricks, because the nose and tail are a little narrower to have good clearance to shuffle balance when I'm on the rail.

  8. Another great review with the kind of detailed info I dream about. You're a machine.

    FWIW I love the length and wheelbase of the Mini-Logo 8.5. Dunno if that's because I'm a clumsy skater and the length is a little more forgiving, or because I have big-ish feet (11.5) or what. I actually ride it in bowls a lot (I'd go bigger if Mini-Logo did), though I stick to their 8.25 on the streets and plaza-style parks.

  9. Thanks for doing this, really useful. Did you ever hear back from Dwindle?

    1. No, but I did get an Almost deck that seemed pretty spot on.
      Their website said 8.38x32.5 and it was...
      But other websites said it was 8.38x32, so sometimes it's not the company, it's the distributing stores etc. that mess up the measurements.

    2. And thank you btw, very glad you enjoyed it! : )

  10. Such a well written review, I can totally relate to! Big up man this is so informative!!
    Andrew -

  11. Thanks alot man, I'm glad you enjoyed it. : )
    - Johnny

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