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Oct 21, 2017, 02:41 AM
Registered User
Discussion

One-stop-shop for Balsa Builders


Hi guys,

Newbie here for building balsa models.

Is there a 1-stop-shop for ordering quality tools for RC balsa builders?

Thanks for any advise.
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Oct 21, 2017, 09:54 AM
Registered User
DGrant's Avatar
I would probably say maybe... haha... but for some builders (like myself)... buying tools, materials and equipment takes patience, just like building. If you're patient and study you might be better off opposed to trying to get everything in a "one-stop-shop".

It might akin to trying to build a plane in one session... can you imagine a "one session plane". Of course there are ARF's and RTF's, but those are not any sort of custom kit-built plane... and trying to build a kit-plane takes hours, days, weeks, and more.

Not knowing where you're located other then Qatar, if there's issues of getting supplies/tools shipped, again do your homework and try to get as much in one shipment as you can... and for that we've got places here in the states like TowerHobbies, Horizon Hobbies, AMain Hobbies, and many really that offer decent tools and they ship anywhere(for a price I'm sure)... but there's many tools that are bought at hardware stores we have here like HarborFreightTools, ACE hardware, and several other outlets.... which offer great tools for the money that work very well for hobby use.

I will even add too that many tools can be found around most anyone's house or hardware store, as building balsa models really doesn't take much out of the ordinary. A good set of X-Acto type knives, a good set of steel rulers, a good flat table, some pins, tape, wax-paper, sand-paper, maybe a small saw, tools and material stuff like that can go a long way to getting started on a very nice model. I still think the key is patience to any of it.

We're all different though... I've been building a looong time, and the tool thing is ever evolving.. but they're readily accessible where I'm at too... and that might not be the case for others...

I'll be curious to see other responses here, and where others might go for tools... and why. Good luck with your search.
Oct 21, 2017, 01:45 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Other than possibly something like a scalpel/X-acto knife and a box or two of spare blades that may not be easily available in Quatar, I would say there aren't any balsa wood specific tools, at least nothing I couldn't do without in many years of model building.

I would think a problem may come when a model is nearing completion and you require model - , hinges, horns, links, push rods, piano wire, U/C saddle clips, etc etc, all those little things.

A quick Google on --- model and hobby shops in Quatar --- found some information on locations, plus the forum link below if it helps, though I don't know if it is still valid owing to the date --

RC Hobby shops in Quatar

Just about everything is available mail order from lots of hobby places and countries, one favorite is Hobby King --- https://hobbyking.com/en_us/?___store=en_us

Probably the easier way is to buy a quality balsa model kit that hopefully includes all the fittings. Then it's just the knife, glue and sandpaper. (I would imaging you already have plenty of sand ).

Ray.
Oct 24, 2017, 03:52 AM
Registered User
Thanks Dgrant and Ray,

Inputs appreciated and note taken...

Found some online shops at UK (Sussex and Slec), they're selling some rc building staff... like the fuselage jigs...

Got some ARF and BNF from Tower hobbies and Horizon Hobbies as well (my foamies)

I also ordered from Hobbyking when i started my scratch build (foam boards), but recently i stopped, as they are not reliable this past order. In their website, item is available, but after I pay, i received an email that one of the item is out of stock... then i removed that item to proceed with the shipping. However , next day, another item from my remaining order is out of stock...then i removed the said item to proceed with the shipping.... then. another message (3rd) received, this time I cancel my order and request for a refund... -- just sharing...

anyways, thanks for the advise ... it was helpful
Oct 24, 2017, 12:45 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
You might also want to look at some wood working tools intended for use on small details. Small details to a cabinet maker uses tools that are considered "big" for a model builder. But they'll come in very handy.

I'd say look at Lee Valley but I see you are in Qatar and shop out of England. A quick look at a couple of options out of England failed to fine the range of smaller detail tools I am referring to for you.
Oct 24, 2017, 02:28 PM
Registered User
I sure wish Lone Star Balsa was still in business. They had all kinds of scratch building supplies on hand that you could get when you ordered wood. That place was as much of a one stop shopping as I've ever seen (I wouldn't go to Tower hobbies for balsa for sure).

carl
Oct 24, 2017, 03:00 PM
Registered User
ErcoupeEd's Avatar
For model building, you really don't need expensive high end tools.
Myself and several buddies all use Harbor Freight Tools.
I purchased a really nice scroll saw from Sears awhile back, it has a 20 inch neck and large heavy duty metal table.
Variable blade speeds.

What I like about it, it runs much smoother( less vibration) than less expensive scroll saws.
And the large table.

A decent band saw ( even a good used one) a drill press ( table top or floor stand)
and a combination table top disc sander come in handy.
Harbor Freight sells x=acto knife sets also, jewelers screw driver sets etc.


I didn't see that you are in Qatar
Last edited by ErcoupeEd; Oct 24, 2017 at 03:07 PM.
Oct 24, 2017, 03:02 PM
Registered User
ErcoupeEd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by carlgrover
I sure wish Lone Star Balsa was still in business. They had all kinds of scratch building supplies on hand that you could get when you ordered wood. That place was as much of a one stop shopping as I've ever seen (I wouldn't go to Tower hobbies for balsa for sure).

carl
Balsa USA and National Balsa are both good suppliers and easy to deal with.
Oct 24, 2017, 04:55 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErcoupeEd
Balsa USA and National Balsa are both good suppliers and easy to deal with.
But a long way from Qatar where the OP lives......
Oct 25, 2017, 12:17 AM
Registered User
Really appreciate your replies.

For the tools like Dremel, cutting blades (i used medical surgical blades by the way), drills, saw. sander...etc - i bought it locally.

Pending in my tool box are the special tools like balsa stripper, balsa razor plane, fuselage jigs, Pins ... but i found where to order it, if you have suggestions that is a must to add on my shopping lists, would gladly appreciate your inputs.

Your replies above helps a lot. Thanks
Oct 25, 2017, 03:16 AM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Do you have access to any wood working machines? Or can you do any home shop hand tool wood working? And finally do you have access to standard single edge razor blades? If so then you may be interested in the wood razor planes I've built in the past. I've got a couple I have kept for myself but some years back I made around 120 of them and sold them off at a couple of swap meets over a few years. It's been nearly 20 years now but I still get the free flight builders I hang out with a few times a year telling me how much they enjoy using my razor planes. I've added a copy of the plans I drew up and presented on RCG some years back and a picture taken of the original cocobolo prototype sitting beside one of the "production" planes.

I've also added a sketch of a simple bench hook that is just about a mandatory item if you're using a small stiff back saw. A similar bench hook style of tool can be used with a specially made sanding block to precision sand ends and short edges of pieces. Notice that this bench hook is shown with some "table" on both sides of the work piece stop. That's so it can be used with a push saw or a pull saw. Simply put the part on the side that causes the cutting stroke to push or pull the wood against the work stop. As you see it in the sketch the strip is clearly positioned ready for a push cut saw.

One tool you can buy with or without a handle then make your own handle is a Frost style knife. I prefer to make my own handles to fit my hand better. A good 3 to 4" long Frost style knife really comes in handy for making big coarse chips and carving nose blocks. There's a picture of a couple of the knives I use for carving at the bottom as well. The squares on the green pad are 1" (25mm) square for you to use as a scale. The lower knife is actually one I made from an old non carbide table saw blade a while back to see if I could cut it out and shape it with hand tools. I could and did and found that it works really well on balsa (of course it would ) but what surprised me is that it did really well for rough work on pine and fir and even moderately heavy work on some hardwoods. Yet the steel was cut with a common hacksaw used slightly slower and more forcefully then usual and the shaping of the bevels was done with a common file. Again used slower and with more pressure than normal to ensure it cut instead of slipping.

I have no idea if you have wood working tools for this or are even interested in this form of wood and metal working. But I can assure you that the razor plane is worth building provided you can find a supply of blades. And in some cases you simply cannot buy an item sized suitably for model building so you end up being forced to build what you need or live without and do things the hard way.

I've tried a few different styles of balsa stripper and I've yet to find one I really like. I make do with one that works for a while then slides right out of shape for no real reason. It uses a single edge razor blade as well for up to 1/8" thick. If I'm having trouble making it work I'm not beyond just getting out the long straight edge with sandpaper glued on the back face and using a knife to strip what I need. Typically this is what I do for harder grades of balsa.

But over 1/8" thick I've been ripping my balsa on my table saw using a thin kerf 7 1/4" Freud Diablo blade intended for use in hand held circular saws. I still begrudge the waste of a roughly 1/16" kerf though.....I leave it to you to do the metric conversions on all that...

Hope there's something here to encourage you to get into making your own tools as well as model planes.
Oct 25, 2017, 01:17 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Friday_flyer
Really appreciate your replies.

For the tools like Dremel, cutting blades (i used medical surgical blades by the way), drills, saw. sander...etc - i bought it locally.

Pending in my tool box are the special tools like balsa stripper, balsa razor plane, fuselage jigs, Pins ... but i found where to order it, if you have suggestions that is a must to add on my shopping lists, would gladly appreciate your inputs.

Your replies above helps a lot. Thanks
Hi,

The above gives us more guidance on what kind of building you are looking to and what tools may be useful. Thanks.

Apart from one or two rc hobby suppliers, such as National Balsa, which still sells a balsa stripper and balsa razor plane, there are no one stop shops for tools found to be useful. Information from fellow modelers, such as you will find in "sticky" notes at the beginning of some categories in this website and in replies to very specific questions, is probably the most valuable.

leevalley.com has a great online category of woodworking tools and related stuff; get on their email list; every several months they offer free shipping and I strongly suspect they will deduct the "local" (Canadian and U.S.) postal cost from what they charge you during such sale periods.
Some things to consider buying from Lee Valley:
- a honing stone to sharpen and keep sharp scapel, Xacto blades and any non-razor handplane blade, chisels, etc. For a single honing stone buy, probably a 4000 grit would be a good choice; a 1000 grit will take out nicks; the king pocket size water stones are cheap
- a 6" hook rule (Lee Valley's house "Utiitas" brand is fine)
- the set of 3 smaller Japanese detail "pull" saws (Japanese blade technology is both more aggressive and saws with a narrower kerf than traditional Western blade teeth); you may find some Japanese blade saws in your local stores

Dressmaking pins - the ones with the colored, round plastic tops - are perhaps 10% of the cost of hobby "T" pins and have a shank a third smaller; available at any local fabric store

Apart from a drill, such as the Dremel, the single most used motorized tool in my hobby work is a scroll saw. Almost any work find; it is the blades that make the difference; because fret work is a common hobby, scroll saws are typically available cheap on the used market.

good luck,

Michael in Ontario, Canada
Last edited by 2michaely; Nov 03, 2017 at 01:41 PM.
Nov 01, 2017, 10:19 PM
Registered User
When I started building Mom would let me have a double edged razor blade that I wrapped one side with masking tape. Never got a cut. Kids were allowed some risks in the '60s. I had glue, sandpaper and that razor blade. Didn't know what an X-Acto knife was. I was 10 and nobody in my family was a modeler. Later I bought an X-Acto knife kit with Green Stamps!

I think my first injury from modeling was from the trailing edge of a nylon .049 prop. Every bit as dangerous as blades. I graduated to large control line planes in college. I bought a few small tools but nothing major.

The best tools I've bought are a razor saw, razor plane and balsa stripper. I've bought several brands of razor saws but seem to go back to X-Acto. The razor plane and stripper are Master Airscrew. Both were bought in the early '90s and are still among my favorite tools.

Things to keep the airframe square are tools, too. Triangles, small machinists' squares, clamps and the like are every bit as much tools as drills and saws. Old credit and hotel cards make good squares and epoxy spreaders.

Long sanding boards (length of a piece of sandpaper) with various grits can be made in the shop and are invaluable in making the airplane look good.

I'm living away from my house and building in a travel trailer right now. I have almost every tool you could want at home 100 miles away but get by on the above mentioned most of the time. The home shop has welding equipment, 2 drill presses, 2 bench mount belt sanders, a band saw, a scroll saw, a grinder, a full sized milling machine, metal lathe and more. I do use a Dremel table saw from time to time but rarely get the Dremel Moto-tool out. I use a small rechargeable drill fairly often. It's satisfying how much quality work I can do without the fancy equipment.

Sandpaper and patience can make up for not having a lot of tools!

David


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