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Beginning Balsa Bashing

Started by spillage, February 07, 2015, 10:39:00 am

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spillage

Thought the headline would get your attention!

I have been flying some 6 years now, am competent enough to fly to B cert in both fixed wing and Heli ( just need to get round to taking them, but after coming into this hobby and been some 48 years young felt I need to look to this coming winter and establishing tools to start my first ever foray into "Proper" building, not some ten hours from box to field.

SO.... You have a cold workshop (garage) with occasional but not long use of the dining room table for warmer sessions.... What does the newbie need to start off... :af

I just wish I had found this hobby earlier rather than later in life.

Thanks In Advance

John

Darkstar56

A 1 metre aluminium rule such as you can get in Wickes.

A flat building surface.

Some small drills to go into a Dremel or other similar sort of gadget.

Swan Morton Scalpel and a variety of blades.

Go to see Max at Grimby Model Centre and he should be able to empty your bank account with all the must haves!

Sorry Max

Max from Broughton.
"... acquisition of knowledge is never too dear."
Sir Francis Walsingham, Spymaster to Q Elizabeth 1.

Michael_Rolls

First requisite is a building board. Depending on the size of models intended, the size of this is obviously flexible, but above all it must be flat.
Next requisite - sharp tools. Swann Morton scalpels are better than 'normal' modelling knives and the sort of things you find in the bargain shops.
A fretsaw - preferably powered, but an awful lot can be done with an ordinary hand powered version! 'Hobbies' used to be the brand of choice, but as I haven't needed to buy a new one in over 50 years, I don't know if they are still on the market,
Copious supplies of wet and dry paper in a variety of grades from 80 to 1000
Lots of balsa - never pass up the chance to buy decent balsa if there is a source near you. Failing such a source, Balsa Cabin are excellent - and don't worry about it deteriorating over time - decently stoed (flat and in a reasonably dry enviroment) it doesn't. Some of my wood is probably over thirty years old - oh, and always buy more than you need.
A drill stand - reasonable ones are remarkably cheap nowadays - makes life much easier than afreehand hand drill
Pins - like wood, you can never have too may pins.
Covering material depends on personal choice - I still use tissue and dope for some of my models, but also covering film (Solarfilm/Tex/etc)
For film a covering iron (although a small tavelling iron if the household runs to one is just as good
Heat gun - a cheap hair dryer (you can get somethig suitable for about £7 with the air intake reduced by about 40% which will boost the heat
Pliers - a variety are always useful
A small but heavy vice - if you find one
Several metal staight edges and set squares
HTH
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

mart49

To Mike's list I would add, pins, try to find the ones with large plastic heads, Flitehook do them and I think I saw them on the Nexus stand at on of the shows, they are finer than the usual plastic headed pins and sharper because they are actually needles. means of clamping , from clothes pegs, bulldog clips to the clamps that SLEC do. As far as a straight edge is concerned by a decent heavy steel straight edge, useful when trying to cut straight lines on balsa sheet. No one's mentioned Perma grit tools, last forever, buy at leat a 6" (150mm) sanding block. Now that's spent all your money, don't forget to post your build threads :)

Michael_Rolls

As Mart says - beware some plastic headed pins - put pressure on them and the head breaks and the 'blunt' end is still sharp enough to embed itself in your thumb (been there, done that, got the blood stained T-shirt)
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

Cactus

February 07, 2015, 13:03:45 pm #5 Last Edit: February 07, 2015, 13:05:20 pm by Cactus
green cutting mat is handy.
another shout for swanmorton blades, i like no 10a's and buy them by the 100
pop into the supermarket, you can get a blister pack of 10 clamps for a quid
sanding block and various grades of paper
a foam sanding block is good for some stuff, but not where you have glue lines or different grades of wood.
12" metal rule
razor saw with around 20mm depth
small hand drill, the pinch and twist type, a selection of small drill bits, 1.6 and 3mm are most handy.
any old dremel thing with some cutting disks
plastic storage draws, hand for keeping ball links, plastic links, metal link, solder adaptors, aileron horns, servo screw, wheel collets, etc in
temp controlled soldering iron, maplin do a nice one with various tips too for anything from sero wire soldering to coltrol rods and even undercarriage.
radio!!
selection of screw drivers
masking tape for holding parts together while they dry.
rubber bands for the same reason.
an old 35mzh aerial, break it apart and sharpen up the inside of one end of the tube to make balsa cutters. perfect for the dowl holes and control exits. balsa hates drills.

at that point you just start buying stuff so if the mood takes you you can knock out a plane at will without a shop visit

talking of blood, if you cut yourself dab it on the plane inside somewhere. it's then christened. lol
I know you believe you understand what you think i said, but i am not sure you realise that what you think you heard is not what i meant.

rogerandout

When I started you scrounged a bit of board from Dad, used an old razor blade, the straight edge was normally a wooden school ruler and pins you knicked from Mum.

Michael_Rolls

Oh and I forget to mention (amongst much else) adhesives. (Chewing gum doesn't cut it, despite what some cheapie ARTFs from teh Far East seemed to think in the distant past. Personally I use balsa cement as much as possible - but as I've been using it for 70 years that's hardly surprising. I also use PVA, epoxy - nearly always the 5 minute variety - and CA (in a WELL ventilated area)
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

Electrode

The glass screen from an old copier, or printer/scanner is an excellent cutting surface.

half throttle

Quote from: rogerandout on February 07, 2015, 13:15:18 pm
When I started you scrounged a bit of board from Dad, used an old razor blade, the straight edge was normally a wooden school ruler and pins you knicked from Mum.


And you tell modellers that today and... ALTOGETHER NOW!...THEY WOULDN'T BELIEVE YOU!
'Concerning myself with the reasoning processes of your cerebral cortex is notably absent from my tables of consideration at this juncture'

fokker

Don't forget a razor plane and a balsa stripper

Michael_Rolls

Razor plane most definitely yes, but personally I've never had much luck with balsa  strippers - what do you use?
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

paulinfrance

I only use glass headed pins, it's no fun when the steel go into your flesh,  :embarassed: and don't forget some 'sanding planks' a plank of stout wood the size of an orbital sander with some 80 grit glued with contact adhesive on one side and 120 grit on the other, and if you can afford it, :'' a couple of small batons 2cm wide (and any other size of what you fancy ) and 20cm long also with sand paper glued to both sides and last but not least a couple of round ones,,,
Mode 2 THE only way to fly

paulinfrance

I have 2 kavans, really good,
Mode 2 THE only way to fly

Michael_Rolls

Looks more substantial than a couple I tried using many years ago - they had guides a good bit shorter than that Kavan and I found it impossible to keep the cut constant in any wood firmer than marshmallow consistency, so have resort to straight edge and knife ever since.
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

fokker

I also use the one pictured above

SteveBB

Building board with a similar piece of Sundeala Evo stuck to the top. Sundeala isn't cheap, so you might go halves or thirds with someone else. It takes pins easily. The board doesn't have to be massive. I've just finished a 1/4 scale glider with a near 14 foot wing span on a board under seven feet long and about two feet wide. But it must be flat..flatter than a very flat thing. Plenty of good light.

Cutting mat or cork floor tiles are good. Hard surfaces take the edge off the scalpel blade instantly.

Several straight edges and rules in various lengths. Various sized tri squares, from small to moderate. If possible small steel blocks that are machined square; they're ideal for ribs and formers in tight places. Lego is an alternative but will need making heavier. You can't have too many tools that you'd use in wood working. Razor plane, chisels, drill bits (wood and steel), small pin chuck as well as a Dremel type power drill (Lidl occasionally sell a version, about £18, I have one and it's okay as long as you don't over do things)--you can get the various bits, cutting wheels etc from Maplin in a set.

Clamps, never have too many clamps of various types and sizes, small G clamps, small 'sash' type cramps, sprung loaded...cheap at discount shops. Old batteries especially the large rectangular torch 6V ones. Make ideal weights for holding stuff down when setting.

Small (from Wickes) tube cutter, use one instead of trying to hacksaw brass or copper tube, you'll not regret the investment. Small vice. Pliers, tweezers (flat and needle nosed), needle files of various, larger wood working rasps and files-they make short work of getting blocks down to where a razor plane is useful.

Small plastic storage boxes to put sub assemblies, nuts and bolts, and other nick nacks you'll inevitably accumulate--warning: You will scrounge 'rubbish' along the way knowing you can use it as a tool or put into the build, where it will sit for months or years until you 'need it'; usually the day after it was binned and now resides on the landfill.

You will use as well as wood (Balsa, ply (various thicknesses and grades), spruce, ramin, box wood etc) aluminium, strip and sheet, brass tube and strip, steel, possibly carbon fibre. 


Oh, and the above list isn't comprehensive.  ;D.

When you've built a couple of models, you'll be frightened at just how much you got in to build it; but look at it as a long term investment-don't buy ridiculously cheap tools; they break, and may even injure you, especially the ones that cut. You'll also be using the tools over and over, so you can 'justify' (as if any were needed) setting any cost over the next ten or twenty years.
Rimmer: Step up to Red Alert!
Kryten: Sir, are you absolutely sure? It does mean changing the bulb.

Michael_Rolls

Fair point about tool longevity - some of mine must be forty and more year old and still as good as when bought. Thinking about it, I haven't got a single tool or piece of equipment that wasn't bought befor we moved up here eleven years ago.
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

paulinfrance

I think you have all forgotten the most important 'tool', :'' a 1000 square meter garage, ^-^  (it's Never big enough ) heated with southern faced Windows,  lights everywhere, 'comfy chairs' and office stools benches everywhere  and of course security doors to keep  children and the wife out,,,  :af
Mode 2 THE only way to fly

Michael_Rolls

You forgot the fridge to keep the beer and Chardonnay cool,
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

The Saint. (Owen)

The problem I had with glass headed pins is that they come off when pulling the pin out, so now I make my own.  :)
Electrickery is the work of the devil.
Proper aeroplanes are powered by engines.

One Life Fly It

I have a few building bits kicking about , will sort through and give a text . :)
Here for a good time , not a long time !

Michael_Rolls

How do you do that,Owen? I remember an article in Aeromodeller years ago saying how you could melt down Frog plastic props (not the nylon ones) and twirl the head of a plain pin in the resulting goo to give a head - never tried it myself
Mike
Properly trained, a man can be a dog's best friend

spillage

Giving head... Michael. . Wrong forum for that. .Alex.. Thanks for the kind offer. .. and to all that have posted. ... thank you
Looks like Max will have some trade over the next few months

Erez

I haven't seen it mentioned but I think you also need a plan or at least a nice balsa kit...otherwise what will you do with all this stuff ?  :co
Seriously, once you get started you will quickly see what tools are essential and what are not so essential. Many years in this hobby and I still buy new tools occasionally as I find necessary.

half throttle

Quote from: fokker on February 08, 2015, 08:17:28 am
I also use the one pictured above


Me too, but no good above 1/8" thick stuff.
'Concerning myself with the reasoning processes of your cerebral cortex is notably absent from my tables of consideration at this juncture'

Erez

Quote from: half throttle on February 08, 2015, 13:02:35 pm
Me too, but no good above 1/8" thick stuff.


I change the #11 blade very often, no problem even with 1/4".
For thicker balsa I use this tool from both sides of the sheet, works for me even with 5/16" and soft 3/8".

Darkstar56

Well with all the must haves we should have emptied his bank account and left him needing a bigger house!

Seriously, a flat building surface, Swann Morton scalpel, steel rule (300 and maybe 1000mm), pins and someting to cut on should get him started. Nick clothes pegs as clamps from the boss!

He can add all the stuff like balsa strippers and the like when he is suckered in to the process.

I think a quick search on here would find a thread on building boards.

HTH

Max but not the Grimsby one!
"... acquisition of knowledge is never too dear."
Sir Francis Walsingham, Spymaster to Q Elizabeth 1.

The Saint. (Owen)

Don't forget to add some balsa to the list.  :P
Electrickery is the work of the devil.
Proper aeroplanes are powered by engines.

eflight-ray

Still missed the most important thing .........

The wife's permission.

You will make dust, shavings, smells, clutter the place up, miss meal times, keep offering useless excuses for not cutting the grass, have glue on your cloths that wont wash out, .......  basically become unsociable as far as your wife is concerned.

Yep, it's a great hobby, go for it.  ;)
Ray in Neath, South Wales, UK

Darkstar56

Things that are useful and cheap/free:

Start collecting business cards and appointment cards whenever you can. They are so good for mixing small quantities of epoxy. Use and chuck away. Keep until the glue has gone off, as you can use it as a check rather than disturbing the joint.

Cocktail sticks for mixing epoxy and also placing small quantities of any sort of glue.

Coffee stirrers from motorway services for mixing epoxy as well.

Some motorway services use short 2mm diam straws for coffee stirrers. Ideal for locating 2.4 aerials in the correct orientations.

1000mm long barbeque fun straws, approx 6mm diam, from Asda and the like at the start of the barbeque season. Ideal for putting in wings and fuselages to run long servo leads. Means you do not have to install the leads at build start. However it does mean you have to solder extentions rather than use plug and sockets.

Old credit cards/chargecards. Use for making control horns and the like for small models, an alternative for 1.5mm ply for this duty.

Old credit cards/chargecards. Use for spreading wing skinning epoxy when you get to that complexity.

HTH

Max
"... acquisition of knowledge is never too dear."
Sir Francis Walsingham, Spymaster to Q Elizabeth 1.

Mike_T

Razor saws.

And if you can get one, a 26TPI 'pull-saw' (22 and 24TPI are more readily available, but coarser).  These are ideal for cross cuts in thicker balsa and for ply/liteply.