Birdwell Blog

Lemonade (and Hand Planes) with Macy Deam
In California 021

Mill Valley High School senior Macy Deam got busy during the pandemic. Rather than mope or whine, she headed out to her father’s backyard woodworking studio and made stuff: a recycled, environmentally-friendly longboard; a shortboard made from wine corks; and, most notably, a hand plane. A hand plane of which she’d make many more.

 

   

     “I was just making them for fun,” Macy told me via phone, “but we thought more people might enjoy them, so we brought some to Proof Lab Surf Shop. They agreed to sell them, and, well, they quickly sold out.”

    Design is in Macy’s blood. Her mother, Lara Deam, is the founder of architecture and design magazine Dwell. Her father, Christopher Deam, is an award-winning designer and architect whose work features in the San Francisco MOCA’s permanent collection.

    Dad got Macy into surfing when she was nine. A few years later he showed her the ins and outs of the studio. Macy and her twin brother, Cal, took a shine to the DIY nature of woodworking. She made cutting boards for her mother, a skateboard for her brother.

 

   

     “Surfboards are really toxic, especially the foam and the resin,” she said. “So for my senior thesis I recycled an old, nine-foot-four Harbour high-performance longboard. First I stripped the fiberglass off, then I reshaped it to nine feet, and into more of a classic longboard shape. And then I decked it with wood because that’s more sustainable than fiberglass, and you also don’t have to use resin. Then I used a varnish that was completely eco-friendly. So all the materials I used, or at least the new materials I used, were completely eco-friendly.” 

    Macy’s hand planes are not only sculptural and gorgeous, but highly functional. Full disclosure: I own one, and I love the way it cuts through the water. Instead of a handle carved into the actual board, Macy fastens a piece of inner tube to the deck—no drag! And somehow the flat-hand-under-the-inner-tube approach only furthers that Superman-flying-across-the sky feeling. 

 

   

     “We use maple wood, and we use a vacuum bag. We shape the foam onto that, what we want the concave to look like, et cetera. And then the wood will basically shape to the desired curve, and then you just cut it out using a router and sand it to what you want. It’s pretty quick. I can make one probably in, take away the vacuum bagging process, 30 minutes.”

    Macy has been bodysurfing for as long as she’s been board-surfing, but she really got into it during quarantine.

    “There’s less ego in it than surfing. Bodysurfing makes the experience so much better because you’re actually on the face of the wave, in the water, really speeding down. It’s just so much fun. I love it.”

 

   

     Macy told me it was a real buzz to sell her hand planes through Proof Lab, but that she’s cutting back on production in order to focus on college: Santa Clara University, in the fall. That said, she’s happy to take custom orders. When I asked how prospective customers might find her she said, to my delight, “I’m not on Instagram. I’ve never had it.” (It suddenly occurred to me that had she been on Instagram, there may never have been these hand planes.) She said she can be reached via email: mmd162@icloud.com.

    I asked what she loves most about making hand planes. 

    “I love how each board can be crafted to individual preferences, whether that means paint color, size or concave,” she said. “They’re much quicker to make than an actual surfboard, so that allows you to experiment.”

 

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