Intro, questions & photos by John Streit. Answers by Steve A. Morris. Additional photos by Allen Harcourt & Morris.

We’re certainly blessed to have such a deep pool of master surfboard craftsmen calling our area home. Over the next few month, we’ll be catching up with local shapers across the VB/OBX region to gain their insight on the craft and learn more about what landed the planer in their hands. We kick things off with Steve A. Morris of S.A.M. Surfboards and Longrider Surfboards, who has been shaping custom and stock boards alike for shops like Pungo Board House and Juice Box Surf. Also a member of the Lil’ Island Surf Crew, Steve is a dedicated local surfer who is sure to score surf between shaping boards and working at Hell’s Point Golf Course. Fifteen years in the shaping trade, Steve has transformed from a hobbyist to a sought-after source for local custom shapes of all types from high performance sticks to classic noseriders. We caught up with Steve to learn more about his unique path at his Virginia Beach home shaping studio.

S&A: Tell us more about how you began shaping surfboards and your formative years.

SAM: It was the late 90s, around 1997. I had been fascinated with surfboard shaping even as a kid, so I talked to Bill Frierson, who used to come out all the time to the course to play golf. I would always bend his ear about shaping. My dad, who lives in Nags Head, brought me an old board he found with the nose broken off sitting in a trash can, so he asked me if I wanted it. I peeled all the old glass off of it and shaped by daughter a little twin fin. I was like, “Man, this is fun!” I then went and bought a blank for me to shape my first board for myself — a 7’4 funboard. A buddy of mine saw it and asked if I could make him one — and it just went on from there. I’ve been doing this pretty much word of mouth the whole time. At one point, I bought into the Fibercraft factory and owned it for two years in the 2000’s, but the economy hit me pretty hard, so I came back to my home studio after that. It was a lot of trial and error at first, but I began to get a good feel for it.

S&A: How has your background in carpentry helped you in shaping?

SAM: Yeah, it definitely helped me. I know in the past, a lot of the old school shapers used to be handy craftsmen types of guys — carpenters, etc — before the industry really kicked off. But it was good to have a foundation of creating things with my hands that relied on precise measurements.

Steve A. Morris draws his outline at his Virginia Beach shaping room. Photo: Streit.
These hands create stoke! Photo: Streit.
Measure twice, cut once. Photo: Streit.
A recent custom board under Steve's S.A.M. label. Photo: Morris.
Another recent custom S.A.M. Photo: Morris.
S.A.M. and PBH team rider Austin Kelly can be found ripping Steve's shapes across the area. Photo: Harcourt.

S&A: How many boards or how many years did it take for you to feel truly comfortable when shaping a surfboard?

SAM: Oh, I don’t think I ever have, really. I’m always learning. Every blank and every board that you mess with is different — almost like a wave — every board is different and every wave is kind of the same way. A guy comes to me, and I try to build a for for him and how our waves are here on the East Coast. Pretty much every shape I do, I hope I nailed it. It’s one of those things where I think it’s good not to feel too overconfident, because if you do, you might lose your touch. Knock on wood — luckily I haven’t had too many complaints, so that’s really good!

S&A: When was the first time you felt like things really kicked off for you as a production shaper?

SAM: When I had the factory, I was approached by a guy named Jimmy who really wanted to open a shop. He came to us over there at the factory, and he told us in April that wanted open in May and have 100 boards in stock. From there I was shaping like crazy — I felt like a machine myself — shaping all kinds of boards from short to fun to longboards and everything in between. It got a little nerve racking at the time. This was about 2008 or 2009. That was the heaviest load. Pungo Board House has been keeping me steadily busy with custom orders and stock boards since they opened up about seven or eight years ago. It’s been great.

Steve A. Morris lays out a template to trace onto the blank. Photo: Streit.
A Longrider classic single-fin noserider with resin tint. Photo: Morris.
Austin Kelly, a longtime S.A.M. Surfboards team rider, tags the top in Sandbridge. Photo: Harcourt.
Any given Sunday at Little Island Park: A lineup of S.A.M. and Longrider shapes ready for action! Photo: Morris
Focused on the details. Photo: Streit.

S&A: How about your custom clientele? I’ve seen the boards in the lineup and it looks like you have some longtime, loyal customers.

SAM: I have quite a few guys that have getting longboards and fishes from me for years and year and they keep coming back, so I must be doing something right, haha! I also have some local rippers on my boards like my team guy Austin Kelly that give me great feedback on the high performance side of things.

S&A: What’s your approach when you meet someone for the first time and they want a custom shape?

SAM: I would ask what they ride now and then go from there. If they say, “Well, I ride a 5’8 and I want to go down to a 5’6 and I weigh 200 pounds,” I would say, “No, we need to beef things up a bit for you.” From the rider’s weight, experience and their style of surfing — what kind of breaks they surf — I bring all of that info together and make them a board.

Contact Steve via Facebook at or call (757) 621-2613

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