Originally Posted by planeman
I know at Lone Star Balsa you can request the grade/type of balsa you need and they will hand-pick it for you. They do a damn good job of it too! Yes, there is a small up-charge for hand picking, but I find it is still a lot cheaper than paying hobby shop prices. A while back I bought $100 worth of balsa and found it to be about half the price of hobby shop balsa including the shipping. Saving $50 is nothing to turn your nose up at. And in this area (Atlanta, GA) there aren't many hobby shops anywhere close by anyway.
I have to agree with you. I've purchased balsa from them and was very pleased. I've also bought balsa from Sig and Balsa USA as well and always received very well cut stock which was for the most part of very good quality. I personally do not buy balsa from the LHS as they most often sell Midwest balsa which is not of very consistent quality, too heavy and only one type usually C grain. Unless the LHS you buy from sells something other than Midwest, you're better off buying from people like Lone Star, BUSA Sig, or other balsa suppliers who generally produce better product.
Another point about Lone Star Balsa is that they weigh and label each piece of wood you buy especially the sheeting so you know how much the piece weighs. Nice touch. As for Michaels, well, they sell Midwest so you take your chances. Besides you will generally pay less for the wood at these suppliers. I've found that Midwest balsa is always more expensive and since they sell only one type of balsa you have no choice.
Most scratch builders buy from reputable balsa suppliers where quality is always consistent.