Gear Feature

How To Make A Splitboard

A look inside the SPURart Factory

Video: Sam McMahon. Photos: Duthie

If anyone ever tells you that there’s no better feeling than tearing the plastic shrink-wrap off a brand new snowboard, they’ve clearly never been to SPURart. Tucked away on a steep Innsbruck side street, this custom ski & snowboard workshop will build you the perfect tailor-made deck (or better yet, help you put it together yourself).

SPURart is powered by infectious enthusiasm and impossibly strong coffee, both of which are regularly topped up by founder Michi Freymann. While doubtlessly a passion project – “No-one’s ever going to get rich doing this!” is one of Michi’s catchphrases – the reputation of the brand has been growing steadily.

In winter the workshop is a hive of activity, taking customers through ‘build-your-own’ sessions on weekends and producing made-to-order equipment through the week (but if there’s been a dump, don’t expect to find anyone there until the evening).

“Their tools of the trade run from pencils and masking tape right up to a custom-built, computer-controlled laser”

We paid them a visit last spring in order to learn about their process the best way one can: by making a custom Whitelines splitboard. Over two days Michi and his assistant Sophie walked us through the whole process, their tools of the trade running from pencils and masking tape right up to a custom-built, computer-controlled laser.

During a break in the proceedings, we sat down with Michi to find out what makes him tick.

Typically, how do your customers find you?

It’s becoming more word of mouth now, but when we started we got good media coverage – we’ve had journalists come by about once a week. Now a lot of people see our website because they’re interested in ‘build your own’ stuff and are searching for it, so they find us that way.


When did you start?

We started eight years ago now. I opened it up two or three weeks after I had the idea. I injured my ACL and got some insurance money, and spent it on the workshop. I started it, but I didn’t want to do it by myself – I wanted someone to share the sorrows, and the good days! I knew Peter [Michi’s business partner] from ski testing; we rode for Rossignol together.

“Innsbruck has so many freaks living here… eventually you find somebody who’s a snowboarder but also fully into robotics!”

Why ‘SPURart’?

At the start there wasn’t really time to find a proper name, so I started with Freymann Sports, because that’s my last name. I didn’t like it at all, so I thought more about it over the next summer.

‘SPURart’ means ‘the way of the trail’ in German, or ‘the art of the trail’ – and you know, when i look at the mountain I can tell the next day which of my friends rode which line. So you see? We try to give people what they really want, and produce it in line with their demands, so I just thought that’s the right name.


How many boards would you make in a week at your busiest time?

Fifteen. If someone orders a custom board, we take measurements, talk about the shape, plan it, then we produce it during the week. For the weekend workshops we have the consultation two weeks beforehand to be able to get stuff ready, like the bases and cores. Then we can do the board in those two days.

We can have eight at once, taking people by the hand through the step-by-step system. We also do a lot of group work – we can take someone who is not that skilled and put them with someone more experienced. That works quite well.

The laser can be used both for cutting the board shape...
...and for etching designs into the topsheet.

Talk us through the consultation process.

We start with the rider’s age, number of days they go on the mountain, and what they want to do – are they more into powder, park, piste – and what they’re riding at the moment. Also, what do they have in mind for this board? Out of this I get an idea… If it’s someone who already has an all-mountain board, but wants a proper powder board, I have to think about the length, the right effective edge, all that.


Is your customer base mainly experts?

No – we do get a lot of experts, but we also get people who have got a voucher for their birthday, or their wedding. We get a lot of couples, actually! Not everyone is super pro, but if they’re not that experienced then we have a fixed shape system that we can recommend.


Do you ever steer customers away from something?

Yeah. You have to talk about it. Some people have a really clear idea of what they want it to look like, but if I don’t like it from a technical perspective on the construction side, I sometimes have to work it out together with my customers.


Have you had any strange requests for custom designs?

A woman had a little white dog that was dying, so she wanted to have her dog on her snowboard. Some people want their kids’ handprints, or pictures of their wife.

“The combination of ash wood with carbon, it really stops the vibration, and that’s why we’re using it”

How do you find staff?

Staff happens [laughs]. I never look for them, I don’t write it in the newspaper, but Innsbruck is a small city, and the skiers and snowboarders know us. They come by, we talk, and that’s how it happens. Sophie is a carpenter, and a good snowboarder, so it’s perfect. She can also do the girls’ boards a bit better – the boys don’t understand it as well.


What do you need to keep in mind when making boards for women?

. It’s so hard to find the right flex. The trick is to find the right flex, in torsional and in length, combined with the sidecut and the profile. This needs to be the right combination for the board to carve, and you have to figure out the nose to keep it over the snow and not in the snow. As you change the length and the dimensions of the board, it all changes – it’s a totally different game. It’s a new board!


You mentioned you use an ash core, which you generally don’t find on mass-produced boards. Why did you choose to go with ash?

I understand it better. The wood has a lot to do with the board’s dampening, and the combination of ash wood with carbon, it really stops the vibration, and that’s why we’re using it. We also take some thicker glass and carbon so we can shrink down the dimensions of the core, and it works. We’ve tried it with other wood, but it breaks easier. with Ash I’ve never had a problem with any damage.


How often do you experiment with new ideas and techniques?

Every day [laughs]. It’s like a laboratory. It’s fun, but you have to bring things to the point where it’s just how we work here – you have to offer a product, and a system for how we do it. But, you know, we could play forever!


Tell us more about your new laser machine.

We started making it a year ago, and now it’s ready. We decided to build one, because you don’t find it on the market – and if you do find one, it’s €90,000… But Innsbruck has so many freaks living here, that eventually you find somebody who’s a snowboarder but also fully into robotics! We started it from scratch, and now it’s solid. We can cut, and we can engrave. The reason why we wanted it is because with this we can make boards and skis more individual. It’s exact to 1/10th of a millimitre.


What did you use before that?

I used a jigsaw, and a Stanley knife. It was a more romantic way of doing it, for those courses we offered, showing how you could do it at home in your garage, but it’s too hard for everybody, and takes a lot longer.

What’s the next thing you’d like to change, or improve, the most right now?

A bandsaw! I really want to have a bandsaw! [laughs] But actually no, I’m happy at the moment. The system runs well. My goal it to have the coolest equipment on earth, but now’s the time to get a little deeper and understand our new tools even better, to open more opportunities. That’s what we need to set our energy in now. I’m going to be the Laser Man….


How far into the future do you look?

Ten years. I want to keep the workshop system, 100% because it’s cool, and it’s fun. We’re not going to get too serious, but I want to push more custom skis and snowboards.

We can’t really do preparation in the summer – we have to pre-produce in a way that means we can still build in two days – so we have a lot of spaces in the schedule at that time. Maybe we’ll find something to do then, outside of skiing and snowboarding – maybe like building cool tables, I don’t know!

“We experiment every day. It’s like a laboratory”

How do you plan to raise awareness of SPURart? Out of the huge number of people that ski and snowboard, most still won’t even know that this is an option for them.

Which is good – there’s so much potential. I hope we can fill our capacity soon. But it’s also about what the trends are doing too – things change a lot, and maybe the DIY thing won’t be so interesting one day, I don’t know. So then we need to set on another foot, with the custom skis and boards. If people go right back into wanting only mass production then we’re out of business, but I don’t think it’ll happen. We just have to produce at the top level – if we get that first, we can’t fail.


Finally, how often do you use the workshop to make something for yourself?

Often. Very often. [laughs]


The SPURart workshop can be found at Höttinger Gasee 26, 6020 Innsbruck. To book your own workshop session, head to or phone +43 512 274088.


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