Author Topic: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?  (Read 856 times)

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Jaeon

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Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« on: January 01, 2022, 06:28:27 PM »
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If so are you sealing it first before paint?
What type paint? I have been using water colors and acrylic.

Philip H

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2022, 11:46:39 PM »
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My experience with wood for scratchbuilding is that sheets need to be painted on all four sides or the unpainted sides soak up moisture in the air and warp. I use acrylics for everything.
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nkalanaga

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2022, 12:52:49 AM »
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I used to use it all the time, for almost everything - 45+ years ago.  The local hobby shop had plenty, and very little basswood.  Styrene was still available only in sheets.

For most freight cars I didn't seal it at all.  Instead, I covered the outside with cardstock (usually 3x5 file cards), then painted that.  Floquil or Pactra paints, as acrylics hadn't become common yet, and warping wasn't a problem.

In fact, my current layout (25 years old) uses balsa for roadbed, and even after gluing the ballast with diluted white glue, nothing warped.  It seems that balsa has so much air space in it that it simply doesn't warp when it gets wet.  Bend, yes, very easily, infact I soaked some of the splines for my roadbed to make them easier to curve.

Don't ever try that with poplar.  The local lumber yard had 1/4 inch poplar sheets, and I tried some for roadbed under a yard.  Never mind ballasting it, that stuff warped from the white glue I used to glue it down!  I finally ripped the whole thing out, replaced it with a sheet of balsa, and haven't had any more trouble.

On the other hand, balsa's grain is very coarse, and I'm not sure it could be sealed, enough to make it smooth.
N Kalanaga
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pedro

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2022, 10:26:11 PM »
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You can soak balsa in water and bend it to very tight radii. Ask any old school R/C airplane builder! It glues really nicely with CA and sucks it up like a sponge with the resulting joint being indestructible. You can also flood it with ultra thin CA to make it hard as a rock. If you have to sand and paint it it needs to be sealed. Balsa sealer should still be available in the R/C section of your friendly local hobby shop, if you still have such a thing.   

nkalanaga

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2022, 12:31:51 AM »
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I've used the CA trick to make tank car ends - again, 40 years ago.  Push brass tubing into the end of a block of balsa, with the grain; cut the plug off, leaving enough sticking out to make the round end; soak with CA, and dip in water.  The tubing gets almost too hot to hold, but the result is probably harder than styrene.  Then just file and sand the end to shape. 
N Kalanaga
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Jaeon

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2022, 02:36:06 PM »
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Thanks for the replies Men. Acrylic works best for paint. I think sealing it would defeat my purpose. Balsa wood looks weathered off the hop where I would have to work on the styrene for a similar effect and I don't care to do that. I have weathered some plane models with differing levels of success and I like what I see on the balsa. I did experience some warp when painting but it easily resorts to shape when glued. Sounds like CA is the best glue for balsa. I have been using Clear Gorilla Glue and it works well but I have some tools that allow exact placement of CA so I will try that. I test most everything thought CA would be useless. I guess I could have looked it up but I did not

CRL

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2022, 04:26:13 PM »
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You can buy regular Sanding Sealer at the paint or hardware store. Just don’t use any solvent based paint over it.

peteski

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2022, 04:30:32 PM »
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You can buy regular Sanding Sealer at the paint or hardware store. Just don’t use any solvent based paint over it.

And balsa will absorb it like a sponge.  I would not use balsa. Basswood, micro-plywood might be better choice for woods. Even when trying to depict wood in N scale, 1:1 wooden surface is way out of scale.  Personally I prefer Polystyrene.  Much easier to work with.
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Jaeon

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2022, 05:47:01 PM »
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I like the idea of basswood. I will try that. It doesn't seem overpriced. I have been using 1/16 balsa because my favorite projects are when I don't have to buy anything but can use available materials. I can make one or two more buildings out of my balsa.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2022, 11:53:44 PM »
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Sometimes I like to use balsa and water putty to represent aged concrete, for bridge abutments, piers, wall foundations etc. It's very easy to work, sand and emboss. I wouldn't use it for building walls etc for reasons already noted by others, but it does have its uses.
Pics below.
Otto K.

Jaeon

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Re: Anyone us balsa to build from scratch?
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2022, 11:48:09 AM »
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Sometimes I like to use balsa and water putty to represent aged concrete, for bridge abutments, piers, wall foundations etc. It's very easy to work, sand and emboss. I wouldn't use it for building walls etc for reasons already noted by others, but it does have its uses.
Pics below.
Otto K.

I am only making buildings that I will put out with the train during Christmas. I would like to have dedicated space but I don't.
Thanks for the tip though they are always appreciated