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Hardening Balsa Sheeting

Old 02-01-2015, 09:02 PM
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Forge
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Default Hardening Balsa Sheeting

Fellow Builders,

I am (1/16") balsa sheeting a plane fuselage, and will leave the balsa wood exposed. I will stain it lightly to bring up the grain and color. (but will not paint or cover it)

Does anyone have a suggestion for coating the balsa so that hardens it a bit to make it more resistant to digs and hangar rash? Something that is transparent and will leave the wood grain visible. (dull, not gloss is preferred.)

As always, thanks for any insight!

Forge
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:26 PM
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abborgogna
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You might try adding on a few coats of thinned clear dope over the stain. This is so the dope penetrates into the wood. Since I am assuming the plane is electric I would recommend Nitrate dope over butyrate. You can thin the Nitrate with common lacquer thinner that can be found at any hardware store. Anyway it's a thought.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:12 PM
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solentlife
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Matt varnish, thinned.

Nigel
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:31 PM
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Clear dope or clear epoxy paint like KlassKote
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:35 AM
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Dope over plain balsa sheet will shrink and have a very strong force trying to warp it.
I recommend against that solution.

Thinned epoxy. Can be heavy...

Water based polyurethane (except this has some issues with UV exposure)

Get hold of "Doculam" laminating film and cover with that. The lighter weight version should be fine. This stuff is lighter than any of the iron on coverings but applies the same. Gets the job done and will give the least problems.
Paces that do laminating might sell you a roll end for very cheap.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:48 AM
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I used semi-flat polyurethane spray which worked well on my Ansaldo.
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Old 02-02-2015, 04:18 AM
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kyleservicetech
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Originally Posted by Forge View Post
Fellow Builders,

I am (1/16") balsa sheeting a plane fuselage, and will leave the balsa wood exposed. I will stain it lightly to bring up the grain and color. (but will not paint or cover it)

Does anyone have a suggestion for coating the balsa so that hardens it a bit to make it more resistant to digs and hangar rash? Something that is transparent and will leave the wood grain visible. (dull, not gloss is preferred.)

As always, thanks for any insight!

Forge
Try a thin layer of titebond or yellow glue on a piece of scrap balsa and let it dry overnight. Little weight gain.
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Old 02-02-2015, 05:41 AM
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Gents,

Thanks for all the excellent suggestions. I will try some experimentation on some scrap wood and report back when I have some results.

Thank you!

Forge
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Old 02-02-2015, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill G View Post
I used semi-flat polyurethane spray which worked well on my Ansaldo.
Lovely plane you have got. Like the color combination.
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Ronald86 View Post
Lovely plane you have got. Like the color combination.
A builder named Richard Feroldi won a Giant Scale best WWI biplane with the model. Those colors are what got me too. I basically copied his using an enlarged Sterling plan. The natural finished wood is a lot of work, but really worth the effort.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:45 PM
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WEST resin - go with slow hardener or Special Clear hardener. Mop it on, check back every ten minutes or so for bubbles on surface, pop by lightly whisking a dry brush over surface.
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Old 02-02-2015, 11:55 PM
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road king 97
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Wish i could help Forge i enjoy planes from the 40s and have never stained any planes yet. After watching and enjoying your nice builds threads tho iam sure what ever you decide to use it will turn out great. joe
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:54 PM
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An old trick for nylon / balsa to get old world look : Tea!

Yep Tea sprayed on in a light coat to balsa or for nylon you dip it in a bowl!

Only thing to watch is any water or dope based will cause shrinkage / or warps

Nigel
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Old 02-03-2015, 05:04 PM
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What about the Polyurethane/Stain mix products. I have not tried it on balsa, but I've used some around the house.

http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/...wax-polyshades

It comes in both a liquid and spary form in your choice of stain colors.

I still have some and can put some on balsa scraps as an experiment if you want.

Steve
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:49 PM
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Any paint that depends on evaporation for curing will potentially warp balsa.
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Old 02-04-2015, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Stevephoon View Post
What about the Polyurethane/Stain mix products. I have not tried it on balsa, but I've used some around the house.

http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/...wax-polyshades

It comes in both a liquid and spary form in your choice of stain colors.

I still have some and can put some on balsa scraps as an experiment if you want.

Steve
I used their semi-flat spray over stained balsa with good results. It was the non-water based type poly spray also.
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