Nick Pourfard began skating when he was about 13. It was around that same time he started playing guitar.

He hasn’t stopped since.

Only now, the 25-year-old San Francisco-based industrial designer is combining his two passions.

After a skating accident left him unable to skate or walk for six months, Pourfard began making guitars from the wood of his old skateboard decks to pass the time.

In 2014, Prisma Guitars was born, and it has grown into a successful business with skateboarders of all skill levels donating their used decks to be transformed into one-of-a-kind guitars. Prior to that, Pourfard was just selling guitars here and there until he decided it was time to take it to the next level.

This unique upcycling method is one of many ways people are elevating the art of salvage, similar to what Tiny Texas Homes is doing for communities in The Lone Star State.

Prisma Guitars

Images courtesy of Prisma Guitars.

“The idea came about solely from curiosity,” Pourfard said. “I was trying to make a guitar, but I wanted to make something that nobody has ever made before. I thought about all my old skateboards and it just made sense to me.”

All Hands on ‘Deck’

Pourfard, along with his team, Justin Oakley (guitar tech) and Michael Svendsen (machinist), use anywhere from four to 50 decks to make a single guitar.

It all starts with the skateboard, which skaters and skate shops bring to Pourfard.

Skateboards

Image courtesy of Prisma Guitars.

The Prisma Guitars team then pulls grip tape off the boards. Once all the grip tape is peeled, the boards get glued together and, through working the materials, they get the colors to come through. From there, they cut and rout the body, drill holes, sand, fit the neck, apply a nitrocellulose lacquer finish, ship it out and do it all over again.

“Everyone around me has been extremely supportive,” he said. “I get boards donated from all over the world in the skating community, and the guitar industry is helping me out by posting reviews and doing reviews. I never would have thought all of these people would come together for me.”

Guitar Cutting

Image courtesy of Prisma Guitars.

Pourfard added that it typically takes about two weeks to finish a build to send out to the finisher. Three or four days to create their blank of wood and another three or four days to cut, rout and sand everything. The rest of the time goes to extra stuff, such as binding and everything else custom.

Even the accessories are made from recycled skateboards, including guitar picks and knobs. Guitar prices range from $2,350 to $3,499.

Every build is a different result, as Pourfard never makes the same guitar twice.

The best part about his job?

“Getting new tools, man!” he said. “Nothing beats that!”

To date, Pourfard and his team have handcrafted about 150 guitars, taking sustainability to the next level and then some by keeping hundreds of more boards from entering the landfill.

For more profiles on individuals and organizations taking a creative approach to sustainability, take a look at the Environmental Innovators section of our blog.