Once you have all of your main components (deck, trucks, wheels, and bearings) picked out, there are a few smaller and inexpensive components you’ll need or may need to put everything together.
Grip tape is the coarse, usually black, material that is applied to the top of your skateboard deck.
The gritty texture of grip tape allows the soles of your shoes to stick to it, helping you stay on your board and perform tricks. In most cases grip tape is black, but you can also find grip tape in a variety of colors and graphics. Check out the graphic grip tape from Mob and Shake Junt to add a little style to your set-up, or customize your own CCS Griptape.
Grip tape is sold in pre-cut rectangular sheets or custom lengths in a variety of widths. Make sure when you purchase grip tape that it’s slightly wider than your skateboard deck. Jessup offers grip tape in variety of widths.
Each sheet of grip tape comes backed by a piece of paper that will expose the tape’s adhesive side when removed. After removing this piece of paper, you can lay the grip tape sticky-side-down on the top of your skateboard deck.
Once the grip tape is centered evenly on your deck, you can scour the tape along the deck’s edges with a file or long screwdriver. Once the tape has been scoured all the way around the perimeter of your deck, you will be able to see the outline of your deck in the grip tape. Carefully use a razor to cut along the outline, removing the excess grip tape.
Use a narrow pointed object to poke holes in the grip tape where your deck’s mounting holes are. This will allow you to bolt your trucks on in a minute.
Hardware and Assembly
When putting your board together, it’s good to start by inserting your bearings into your wheels. Each wheel will have a recessed pocket to hold a bearing on each side. You can use your truck to press your bearings into your wheels by sliding one bearing onto your axle and pressing your wheel down on top of it, forcing the bearing into the pocket.
All parts of assembling your board can be made a little easier with a skate tool. Skate tools will have 3 socket wrenches sized to fit your mounting bolts, your axle nuts, and your kingpin nuts. Most skate tools will come with a screwdriver as well, like the Unit Tool, and our very own CCS Skate Tool.
Now you can install your wheels on your trucks. First remove the truck’s axle nuts (diagram of truck highlighting axle and axle nut), then slide each wheel onto an axle. Screw your axle nuts back on once the wheels are in place, but be sure not to over-tighten. Tightening your axles too much will prevent the wheels from spinning. Generally you want just a little bit of play in the wheel once axle nuts are tightened down. If you are using bearing spacers (link to bearing spacers section below) you may be able to tighten your axle nuts down further.
Next, you’ll mount your trucks to your deck. For this, you’ll need mounting hardware. Skateboard truck mounting hardware consists of 8 bolts and 8 nuts. Most skateboards will require bolts that are about 1” long with 10/32 nuts. If you intend to use risers or shock pads (link to riser/shock pad section below), you’ll likely need longer hardware. CCS, Diamond Supply Co., Khiro, and Independent both offer mounting hardware in a variety of lengths. Each truck has holes to accommodate four bolts, as does each end of your skateboard deck.
Once your hardware is in place, you can use a screwdriver and wrench, or screwdriver and skate tool, to tighten the nuts and bolts. You’ll want to tighten your hardware until the heads of your bolts are flush with the grip tape on the top of your deck and you feel significant resistance. It is important not to over-tighten your bolts or you may damage your deck.
Risers and Shock Pads
Skateboard risers are small plastic platforms that act as spacers between your truck’s baseplates and the bottom of your deck. Image showing riser placement between deck and trucks. Risers are necessary to create clearance when using larger wheels, generally wheels larger than 56mm. Shock pads perform the same function, but while risers are hard and rigid plastic, shock pads are malleable, rubbery, and shock-absorbent.
Risers and shock pads come in different sizes to offer different amounts of wheel clearance. In general, risers and shock pads are available in widths of 1/16”, 1/8”, 1/4”, and 1/2”. If you choose to use a riser or shock pad, you will need longer hardware to accommodate the additional space between your deck and your trucks. Use the table below as a guide for matching mounting hardware size to riser/shock pad size. Pig offers risers and shock pads in every size available.
Bearing spacers are small metal or plastic cylinders that rest in the center of a skateboard wheel, between the two bearings, around the truck’s axle.
There are 3 main purposes of bearing spacers. The first is to reduce the weight placed on each bearing. The second is to reduce friction between each bearing and axle. And the third is to eliminate any play or extra space between your wheels and your axle. Spacers do this by allowing you to tighten down your axle nuts as much as possible while still allowing your wheels to spin freely.
As significant as these benefits might sound, the difference bearing spacers make is usually minimal to most street and transition skaters. Unless you are racing downhill at speeds of 30mph or more, you probably don’t need bearing spacers. But, if you are one of those people who wants to have your set-up dialed “to a T”, as most of us at CCS can relate, you might as well throw some in.
Speed rings are thin metal washers that sit on your axle on either side of your wheel. Image of speed rings and where they sit on the truck in relation to wheels/bearings. They are there to reduce friction between the outsides of your bearings and your axle nut on one side, and the edge of your hanger on the other side. Your trucks will come with a full set of speed rings already installed, but don’t worry when you lose them. Unless, again, you are hitting speeds of 30mph or more, you probably won’t even notice them missing.
Your bearings will get dirty over time, and dirt can cause them to slow down. Fortunately for you, there are many bearing lubricants and cleaners available to remedy this. Bronson makes an awesome lubricant that has been known to bring many dead bearings back to life.
Most bearing lube can be applied by removing your bearings from your wheels, removing the rubber shield on the outside of your bearings with a razor, then squeezing a couple drops of lube into each side of the bearing. Image of razor being used to remove bearing shield, image of squeeze bottle of lube being used to drop lube into exposed bearings. A lot of times that simple process is enough. For extreme cases, you can soak your bearings in lube over-night.