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May 30, 2013, 10:38 PM
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Newbie to Balsa Models - Need Advice

Hey Guys,
I just started with building balsa models, in fact building models at all. I have always been interested in trying to build balsa models, but I never got into it. Finally the other day I went to a local hobby shop and just bought everything I would need (or I thought I needed).

For reference here is a list of the materials that I purchased:
Guillows Beechcraft Musketeer Model
Testors Wood Cement
EZ Dope
Sewing pins
Xacto knife
Small miter box
Cardboard for pinning surface

I started with the Guillows Beechcraft Musketeer, which has been going pretty well all things considered. I did mess up quite a bit with some of the fuselage, and I am having a hell of a time cutting the plastic pieces out for the landing gear and the plastic window sheet. I've also had a hell of a time applying the glue. The testors wood cement just seems to pour out of the bottle and is extremely hard to control.
Here are some pictures:

I am just about ready to start wrapping everything with the tissue paper, but I think I might be missing glue for the tissue paper. I was told by the guy at the hobby shop all I needed was the EZ dope, but once I realized the dope was for hardening and shrinking the tissue, and the cement is for wood, I might need some other materials.

My first question is, what glue do I need for the tissue paper?

My second question is, what is the best glue/cement for the balsa wood? I have seen some pictures on forums where people have glue bottles with very fine application tips, something like this would probably be best.

My third question is, what type of paint should I get for the model? I am not a gifted painter, and for the first model, I'm not planning on it being great, but I don't want the crappy balsa work to show through the tissue.

My final question is what model should I do next? I want something around the same difficulty as the Beechcraft, but I don't think I want to work with anything smaller, I don't think my sausage fingers could handle that precision yet.

For anyone that can make suggestions for materials, it would be great if you could provide a link somewhere online, as my closest hobby shop has a very minimal selection. (Amazon preferred)

Thanks everyone!
Last edited by drallen; May 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM.
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May 31, 2013, 03:55 AM
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ColinNZ's Avatar
First welcome to your first build, It has been a while since I've done a stick and tissue model but I'll answer as best I can, to get your glue out of the bottle use a long thin strip of balsa or some other wood (tooth pick) dip it in the bottle then place the glue on the end on the joint to be glued.
1Before you tissue make a sanding board with very fine sandpaper and lightly sand the whole model to remove any lumps and bump. There's two ways I fix tissue to the frame, you can put 2 or 3 coat of dope over the frame where it contacts the tissue then cut and place the tissue, where the tissue touches the frame brush with dope thinners that will stick the tissue to the frame. The other way I use wallpaper past, brush it on to the frame (the same as the dope) then lay the tissue on. When the past or dope is dry spray lightly with water or brush it on then let it dry, this shrinks the tissue, with wings make sure they don't twist and then lastly brush the tissue with more dope.
2 What's the best glue, well everyone has there favourite mine is Titebond or any aliphatic glue.
3 painting. I like to use coloured tissue, be careful with paints they can add a lot of weight, this is not good on small models.
4 What to build next, well what ever takes your fancy, I have found that high wing model are easier to trim and fly better for me, but that may just be me

Jun 02, 2013, 09:59 AM
Registered User
something to keep in mind:
Tissue has a "grain". It tears easier (more evenly) along the direction of the grain, tears harder (more ragged) cross-grain. Tissue grain should usually be aligned along the "long" dimension of the component that's being covered; e.g. grain should be aligned span-wise on the wing (reduces "sagging" between the ribs).
Jun 02, 2013, 10:10 AM
wood is good
loNslo's Avatar
Do your own due diligence and try some searches and reading how the experienced modelers are doing theirs. Lots of build threads, here, and also threads about glues, covering, etc.
Jun 03, 2013, 09:22 AM
Registered User
kdahlhaus's Avatar

Balsa Marker/Cutter Tool from Small Flying Arts


I built a balsa marker/cutter tool that used to be listed on 'Small Flying Arts.' It makes it simple to cut stringers to the currect angle so they have a nice fit. Here is the thread with a link farther down to a site that still has the article:

Jun 05, 2013, 10:16 PM
I'm a pilot, 100 yrs too late
Thermalin's Avatar
Are you planning to fly it.. or just for display? Models like this after covering with tissue .. etc which requires wetting from spary bottle or similar are prone to warping. If your going to to fly her many here can provide advice on what to look for and how to balance to get her ready to go. A dremel with a sanding drum is how I cut out plastic parts, cowls, etc.. Quite easy to be extremely preicse when the drum spins at the higher speeds.

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