Photography by Matthew Gilson
Huff built his first board in high school just to see if he could make something professional-looking. But after graduating with a business degree from Ancilla College in 2015, things got serious. “I started looking for jobs and thought, Why not try to make this a career?” Huff says.
“After a lot of trial and error, it kind of took off.”
Today his company, Huff & Puff, produces boards that range in price from $225 to more than $2,900 and ship worldwide. While smaller boards take about a week to craft, larger builds can take up to a month. Regardless of what he’s making, Huff first considers which types of wood to use. “I’ve got a stockpile that I pick through,” he says.
Because most of his materials are repurposed, the manufacturing process usually starts with removing old nails. Next, Huff planes and saws the lumber with industrial-grade machinery. But when it’s time to create his ornate inlaid designs, Huff hand-cuts those. To finish, each board gets a high-gloss coat. “We do a clear grit on them, too, to help keep your feet on the board,” Huff says.
Although working with reclaimed wood can be a challenge, Huff wouldn’t want it any other way. “The product, in my eyes, is 10 times better than a new-wood board, because it’s already had a life and a history,” he says. “We’re making it into a functional piece of art.”
This S-curve paddleboard features inlay made from reclaimed red-cedar telephone poles. $1,395.