This is just flippen awesome. Dave de Witt is a Durbanite who repurposes old “thrashed” skate decks and turns them into sunglasses. By hand. In Pinetown. What a talented guy. He chatted to Handsome Things about the many careers that led him to this and exactly how it’s done.
What is your background and how did this idea come about?
I am a qualified Weaving Mechanician on an Airjet Loom – that means when I was an apprentice at Frame Textile Corporation in the weaving dept. from age 19 to 23 where I learned to take things apart, fix them, and put them back together. I left there along time ago and have been on a journey from flowrider instructor, skatepark manager, rock wall attendant, cruise ship employee to self employed skatepark builder, cabinetmaker, custom furniture designer and now sunglass maker.
Sk8shades was born through necessity, my sunglasses broke, I wasn’t amped to buy new shades, but I had tools, Google, an old skateboard and some scratched lenses from my old Aviators. I made a pair of shades, posted them to Facebook, and a few months later, here I am making sunglasses, and have just ordered 120 pairs of lenses and am about to order the same amount of hinges.
Tell us a bit about the process involved in making the glasses?
The process starts with old boards being sliced up, planed, laminated, cut into veneers and then laminated into the final shape with a cross laminated core for strength. The temples are re-sawed noses and tails of skateboards taking advantage of the ready-made curves, or they can be made to match the layered frame. I have made custom templates and molds to shape the lens apertures and frame as accurately as possible.
To mount the lenses securely I custom made my own router bit from an old bit. Lenses will be polarized lenses, which pass European Class 1 and Australian sunglasses standards, the highest standards currently set. South Africa has no set standards, but I want to produce the finest quality product. Hinges are currently being imported from China, solid nickel, high quality. Spring hinges will be available shortly. Currently I am working by myself, but am looking into getting some employees to up production time.
At the moment I am selling at the I Heart Market in Durban and through my Etsy store for international orders.