Razor tail is a condition that affects the kicktails of a skateboard.
It is most commonly caused by dragging a skateboard’s tails against the ground.
When your skate deck develops razor tail, it affects your board’s pop and can lead to more serious issues, like the plies of the deck splitting, over time.
While razor tail can look like a badge of honor on your board – Seriously, just look at how much I’ve ground this mother down. – it’s best to prevent it when at all possible.
What is razor tail on a skateboard?
Razor tail on a skateboard is when the protective coating and wood on a kicktail wears down, thinning the tail and leaving it very skinny at its edge.
When worn enough, that strip of wood becomes razor sharp, giving the condition its name.
Is razor tail bad?
Razor tail causes a couple of serious issues on a skateboard.
One issue is right there in the name.
As the edge of the skateboard thins, it can become incredibly sharp, posing the threat of cuts if you hit it wrong. (This is even more true of fiberglass and carbon fiber composite decks, where the worn edges are even sharper.)
The other major issue with razor tail is structural.
Razor tail is literally a thinning of the protective coating and wood on a skateboard deck, which makes the deck weaker in that area.
A weaker structure makes it easier to chip your kicktail even during the course of normal riding.
But chips will be the least of your concerns.
Since razor tail weakens the wood and eliminates the protective coating, a skate deck can actually start to come apart where razor tail occurs.
And, once the wood plies start to separate, your deck may become unrideable.
How to Avoid Razor Tail
While razor tail is bad for your skateboard, there are plenty of simple ways to avoid it, and some relatively easy fixes once it starts to develop.
Here’s how to keep your skateboard’s tail in good working condition –
Don’t drag your tail.
There are times your skate deck is going to drag slightly that can’t be prevented, like when practicing ollies and manuals.
Until you get good at these tricks, you can expect a little skid along the ground before you get into the air.
There are other times when you can avoid dragging your tail.
If you drag your kicktail to slow down, stop.
Start carving, sliding, or using your foot as a brake instead.
The more you keep your tail off the ground, the less risk of razor tail.
Stay away from rough surfaces.
All surfaces will wear down your skateboard’s kicktail over time, but rougher surfaces do it faster.
Unless you have a seriously compelling reason to skate rough terrain, stick to smoother asphalt, and even when your tail drags, it won’t take as much damage.
Install a tailbone or skid plate.
Tailbones and skid plates, also known as tail guards, are pieces of plastic that attach to the bottom of the kicktails on a skate deck and keep the deck itself from hitting the ground whenever you pop your board.
But there are a few issues with tailbones/skid plates a lot of skaters don’t like.
One problem with tailbones/skid plates is that they require putting extra holes in your deck at either end.
The other, more essential problem, is that they affect the way a board skates.
Does a tailbone/skid plate affect pop?
The main way a tailbone/skid plate interferes with a skateboard is that it reduces the distance between the tail and the ground, affecting pop.
A tailbone can also make the board feel less secure on the ground while performing tricks that require kicktail contact.
Razor tail also affects pop and makes your board feel less secure.
So, it’s a trade-off. If you want to prolong the life of your board, a skid plate can help you do it.
Otherwise, just know you’ll need a new deck once razor tail begins to affect your skating.
Can you ollie with a tail guard?
Despite a tail guard’s affect on pop, you CAN still ollie with a tail guard.
You might get a little less height, and you’ll have to get used to the change in the way the board feels, but the ollie is still in there.
Apply automotive carbon fiber tape.
If you don’t want to put holes in your skate deck, but don’t mind a little adhesive, you can apply carbon fiber tape to the bottom of your deck instead of skid plates.
Carbon fiber is a wicked strong material that will add strength to your board as well as preventing wear at the tails. (Carbon fiber is already used in some skate decks to make them super strong.)
Despite its impressive credentials, carbon fiber tape will still wear down over time, but you can keep a roll on hand and reapply as needed.
The best part? A thin layer of tape won’t affect pop nearly as much as a plastic skid plate.
How do you fix razor tail?
Ideally, you will prevent razor tail as much as possible by not dragging your board to slow down and only letting your kicktail hit the ground when performing ollies. (Though, it’s bound to also take a few knocks when practicing manuals.)
But, if your skate deck is already beginning to thin, take these steps to repair the tail and prevent further deterioration.
1 – Sand or cut down your deck.
The first step in repairing razor tail on a skateboard is to get rid of the razor tail.
Use heavy-duty sandpaper (razor tail can be really sharp) to sand down the edge of your deck until it is flat (or almost flat) again.
This is the easiest way to maintain the shape of the tail while removing the razor tail.
Alternatively, you can use a band saw to cut around the deck’s edge if you have one available. Just make sure you are following the curvature of the deck and don’t cut off more than necessary.
2 – Replace the protective coating.
When you remove razor tail, you remove the protective coating from your skateboard along with it.
To keep moisture out of your board, spread a layer of epoxy over the back of the deck where you cut off the razor tail.
Make sure the epoxy covers all the plies and meets up with the surrounding edges of the deck, so there are no gaps.
3 – Don’t use your kicktail until the epoxy has cured.
This is the tough part. Epoxy takes a long time to cure (about 72 hours).
Just because epoxy is dry doesn’t mean it’s ready for action.
So, while you can ride your skateboard as soon as epoxy dries, don’t use the kicktail for at least 72 hours to allow it to set.
4 – Protect the tail.
Once you’ve repaired your kicktail, you should consider adding a protective layer to prevent razor tail fr0m coming back.
It doesn’t have to be extreme. A layer of carbon fiber tape will do.
Now that you’ve repaired your kicktail, take it from the top and try to avoid razortail in the future.
Razortail is one of the main issues that kill a skateboard’s responsiveness and send it to the refuse pile.