The Chemistry of Skateboards


For decades skaters have been awestruck by a piece of wood with wheels and how they could perform tricks that seem to defy gravity. Skateboarding was created by surfers for when there were no waves and is continuing to grow as an action sport with a growing number of participants. As one of those skaters I love the feeling of freedom you get when are skating. It is how i prefer to get to places. Skating is not a hobby it is a lifestyle. Skating is also primarily physics when it comes to performing tricks, but this is the chemistry of a skateboard.Composition of ...The deck varies but is usually 50% Carbon, 42% Oxygen, 6% Hydrogen, 1% Nitrogen and 1% of other elements.

The trucks are made of aluminum (Al)

The wheels are made of polyurethane (C3H8N2O)

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Every part of the skateboard is needed for it to work properly. Like pro skater Chris Cole said “It’s a strange phenomenon how this piece of wood, wheels and a turning system has made so many people so happy.”

Chemistry's Role

The deck is made of 7 plys of wood that is usually maple wood (an alternative is bamboo). It is cut to have a width of 7-10 in. and length is 28 to 32 in. The cut makes sure that the nose is steeper than the tail and has a dip in the middle which is known as the concave. It is then glued together and has heat printed graphic on the bottom side. If the board is not constructed properly it would snap quickly after an impact.

The Trucks are made of aluminum and has small rubber bushings that are pushed down on by a nut called the king pin. This allows for control of turning.

The wheels are made of polyurethane which is hard enough for streets and doesn’t wear away quickly. The size of the wheel is also important for speed. Big wheels can go faster and go over cracks easier but are less responsive. Smaller wheels are used for tricks because they are lighter and more responsive.

The bearings are made of Silicon Nitride or ceramic ball bearings that consists of 7 small balls that give the wheel constant movement. There are 2 bearings for each wheel.

The griptape is made of either Silicon Carbide which is naturally black in color or made of Aluminum Oxide and clear in color which allows for a design underneath. It is like sandpaper but allows your feet to stay on the board without slipping.


Info on the board and its history

What makes polyurethane

More on polyurethane

More info on the skateboard

Info on the trucks

Info on the wheel

Info on griptape



About the Author

Simon Hanson is a junior at Billings Senior High School (Class of 2017) and plays soccer for the Magic City S.C. U18 team. He loves music and produces some of his own music in the electronic Dance Music genre. He also enjoys Mixed Martial Arts and skateboarding. He interested in becoming a heart surgeon or DJ on the professional circuit around the world. His family is also a member of the Scottish clan Malcolm.