j27

Balsa

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Hello, I'm new at this ,6 months or so, I've made about 20 baits so far and I'm hooked. I was reading through some forums and read something about some harder balsa. I've been getting mine at Hobby Lobby and been working good so far. But if there is a better way, I would like to use it. The forum read that the balsa at H Lobby was mainly for making airplanes and was softer. So, I started a search for this harder balsa with no luck. I thought balsa was balsa.Did I misunderstand this or does this exist? And where do you get it? Thanks for all the help ! J

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From what I've read Balsa is divided into 4 different categories. Extra light is 6 pounds or less per cubic foot. Light is 6 to 10 pounds per cubic foot. Medium is 10 to 14 pounds per cubic foot. Heavy is 14 to 19 pounds per cubic foot. Extra heavy is 19 pounds per cubic foot and above. If you want to order some of the heavier weight balsa then you should plan on paying more for it because they have to hand select it. Just type "balsa suppliers" into your browser to do a web search.

Ben

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Balsa has a density of between 6 and 18 lbs/cu ft. A lot of the balsa you see is intended for model builders. It tends to be lighter, low density balsa. Many crankbait builders prefer to work with high density 12-18 lb balsa. It's considerably more tougher and crankbaits from it don't require special, extensive reinforcement to make them acceptably durable. Downside? You probably have to special order it from a balsa company. If you are a hobby builder and don't mind doing the extra work needed to make low density balsa more durable, the crankbaits you can make from it can have very high buoyancy - which is not necessarily a bad thing. It just depends on what you want to build and how much trouble you are willing to go through to do it.

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Thanks for all the info.The cranks I'm making are 2 3/4 in long medium divers mainly for bass. I'm sealing them with propianate. Is this the extensive enough reinforcement that you was talking about ,BobP? I dip them about 5 to 7 times until I get a good smooth shell before painting. If so , I guess I'm ok for now . I have enough of the soft stuff to make about 20 more baits. I will look again for the harder stuff in meantime. The cranks that I've made so far do have a great action, a thumping feel and I'll start fishing with them next month. Here is some pics. Thanks again for all the input.

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Good looking crankbaits! I also like to use 8-9 dips of propionate on light balsa and think it works OK. If you want a durable bait, you should also consider using a thru-wire frame inside. If you mark a center line on the bait before you begin shaping it, cutting soft balsa along the center line for the frame is very to do with a razor blade. And you get a big jump in durability when you glue the halves of the bait back together with 5 minute epoxy. I like to use SOFT temper .041 stainless steel "safety wire" for my thru-wire frames (and all my hardware tasks for that matter). It's easy to bend, conforms well inside the bait with minimal grooving to make it fit, is plenty strong enough for bass baits, and makes the baits easy to tune without breaking the finish around the nose of the bait.

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Good looking crankbaits! I also like to use 8-9 dips of propionate on light balsa and think it works OK. If you want a durable bait, you should also consider using a thru-wire frame inside. If you mark a center line on the bait before you begin shaping it, cutting soft balsa along the center line for the frame is very to do with a razor blade. And you get a big jump in durability when you glue the halves of the bait back together with 5 minute epoxy. I like to use SOFT temper .041 stainless steel "safety wire" for my thru-wire frames (and all my hardware tasks for that matter). It's easy to bend, conforms well inside the bait with minimal grooving to make it fit, is plenty strong enough for bass baits, and makes the baits easy to tune without breaking the finish around the nose of the bait.

Thanks for the compliment.Thanks to TU, I'm getting better each time I make a new batch of cranks. Your method sounds alot like mine with just a few differences but basically the same. The though wire construction is definatelly the way to go. I've been using 19 gauge ( I think thats .039 ) from Ace Hardware. I'd like to go a tad smaller though just to make it easyer to install, maybe something like .031 or .035. I'm glad you shared your wire size. I was going to start a new topic on that subject. I also use 5 min epoxy but would like to go to something strait out of a bottle like gorilla glue. Their are some new glues that clam that is as strong as epoxy. Would I be waisting my time and $$$ on this or just stick with the 5 min epoxy? That might be another thread to start later.

Back to my original question, if you and maybe a few others are using this wood,same method of sealing and the 2 peace construction glued with 5 min epoxy then I'm assuming I'm good to go ?

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Can't remember who suggested using super glue for sealing balsa, but I tried it and am very pleased. It seems to be thin enough that it soaks into the wood and gives the surface of the bait a really hard shell. I've been applying one coat of Gorilla super glue and letting it dry. I then give it a light sanding followed by another coat of the super glue. This gives me a hard, smooth surface to paint on. If you have a scrap piece of balsa try giving it a couple coats of super glue and then compare it to another piece of balsa by pressing on them with your thumb. I had tried coating some baits in an acetone/plastic solution and to me there is no comparison to the super glue.

Ben

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Thanks for the compliment.Thanks to TU, I'm getting better each time I make a new batch of cranks. Your method sounds alot like mine with just a few differences but basically the same. The though wire construction is definatelly the way to go. I've been using 19 gauge ( I think thats .039 ) from Ace Hardware. I'd like to go a tad smaller though just to make it easyer to install, maybe something like .031 or .035. I'm glad you shared your wire size. I was going to start a new topic on that subject. I also use 5 min epoxy but would like to go to something strait out of a bottle like gorilla glue. Their are some new glues that clam that is as strong as epoxy. Would I be waisting my time and $$$ on this or just stick with the 5 min epoxy? That might be another thread to start later.

Back to my original question, if you and maybe a few others are using this wood,same method of sealing and the 2 peace construction glued with 5 min epoxy then I'm assuming I'm good to go ?

J, assume we're talking SOFT temper stainless wire. I've used .031" soft temper on shallow divers (line tie in the nose) with zero problems but found .041 dia soft wire was better on medium and deep divers (line tie out on the lip) because the twisted wire run from the line tie to the lip slot will not torque. If you're using HARD temper stainless, you can go down to at least .029" dia with no problem on any bass bait. .029" hard stainless leader wire is 180 lb test. What's gonna break that? At some point, I think you get into the area of aesthetics more than function - what "looks right". Soft brass wire was used on some of the best classic balsa baits from the 1970's and it looks like .041" dia to me. Soft stainless is just a little harder than soft brass and it will not corrode like brass, so...

Ben - superglue is interesting but isn't it pretty expensive? It's like $3.50 for 1/3 oz at Home Depot. I don't doubt it works fine and I'm not really a cheapskate, but...

Edited by BobP

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Ben - superglue is interesting but isn't it pretty expensive? It's like $3.50 for 1/3 oz at Home Depot. I don't doubt it works fine and I'm not really a cheapskate, but...

I haven't even considered the cost of materials yet Bob. I'm still experimenting with different materials, techniques, etc. of building baits. I don't plan on mass producing anything for sale at this time so cost isn't one of the major factors for me at this time. At the moment I'm just trying to build the best bait that I can. Now if something changes down the road and I can develop a market for something I build then cost will be more of a concern.

Ben

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Great BobP, was looking for that kind of info and couldn't find it in the older forums. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to have to order my ss wire, Ace or anyone else don't have that. Was thinking of ordering the ss wire from Jann's netcraft. They don't specify if its hard or soft tempered. Where do get yours?

Ben- Thanks for the input, I did try the super glue for sealing . I liked the results better with the prop. If I just wanted to make one bait I may use it again but I like to do 5 to 10 cranks at a time. What I would like to change is the glue I use to connect the two halves together. I use 5 min epoxy but want something that I don't have to mix without losing the strength that the 5 min epoxy has.

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I think I was the one who first mentioned using super glue on balsa baits, but I only make them occasionally, and then it's one at a time. It is expensive.

I would probably use two coats of thinned D2T if I were making a bunch of balsa baits.

I've used Gorilla glue, the kind that foams, for laminating pine together to make thicker blanks, with no failures. I moisten both faces of the wood before I apply the glue, and clamp them together and let them sit overnight. I think the glue, which is drawn into the adjacent wood by capillary action (that's why I wet the two sides first) is at least as strong or stronger than the wood itself. I've tried hitting a cutoff that's held in a vice, and the wood breaks, not the glue joint. The foam out excess is soft, because it expands and foams when it's exposed and unclamped, but the glue in the clamped joint is hard as a rock.

Balsa is a softer, weaker wood than pine, so, if I were thinking of using it for laminating balsa, I would do a test to see if the glue joint breaks before the wood. I just don't know how deeply the glue will penetrate balsa.

Another potential problem with laminating balsa is that drill bits might drift because the glue joint, which is typically in the center of the blank where the hardware attaches, would be harder than the adjacent wood. Like trying to drill into a hard grain line.

If you use a through wire system, I'm pretty sure it would work fine, but you really should make a test laminate with a through wire to see for yourself.

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I think I was the one who first mentioned using super glue on balsa baits, but I only make them occasionally, and then it's one at a time. It is expensive.

I would probably use two coats of thinned D2T if I were making a bunch of balsa baits.

I've used Gorilla glue, the kind that foams, for laminating pine together to make thicker blanks, with no failures. I moisten both faces of the wood before I apply the glue, and clamp them together and let them sit overnight. I think the glue, which is drawn into the adjacent wood by capillary action (that's why I wet the two sides first) is at least as strong or stronger than the wood itself. I've tried hitting a cutoff that's held in a vice, and the wood breaks, not the glue joint. The foam out excess is soft, because it expands and foams when it's exposed and unclamped, but the glue in the clamped joint is hard as a rock.

Balsa is a softer, weaker wood than pine, so, if I were thinking of using it for laminating balsa, I would do a test to see if the glue joint breaks before the wood. I just don't know how deeply the glue will penetrate balsa.

Another potential problem with laminating balsa is that drill bits might drift because the glue joint, which is typically in the center of the blank where the hardware attaches, would be harder than the adjacent wood. Like trying to drill into a hard grain line.

If you use a through wire system, I'm pretty sure it would work fine, but you really should make a test laminate with a through wire to see for yourself.

Thanks for the Info, I've got a couple of scape blanks that I can do the test on. I'm going to try to compare epoxy and some none mixing types of glues. J.

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J - I get soft temper stainless "safety lock wire" from McMaster-Carr. Here's a link: http://www.mcmaster.com/#stainless-steel-safety-lock-wire/=ak5rcc

8860K15 is the catalog # for a 1/4 lb spool of .041" (they sell various diameters in various size spools). McMaster-Carr also carries other crankbait raw materials like polycarbonate (aka Lexan) sheets, circuit board sheets, hard stainless wire, etc. Good service and some of the best prices I've found for these items if you can navigate their huge inventory of choices.

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J - I get soft temper stainless "safety lock wire" from McMaster-Carr. Here's a link: http://www.mcmaster....ck-wire/=ak5rcc

8860K15 is the catalog # for a 1/4 lb spool of .041" (they sell various diameters in various size spools). McMaster-Carr also carries other crankbait raw materials like polycarbonate (aka Lexan) sheets, circuit board sheets, hard stainless wire, etc. Good service and some of the best prices I've found for these items if you can navigate their huge inventory of choices.

Bob - Perfect , Thanks!!! J

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I am looking for a different sealer, where can i get propionate at? i use a sanding sealer now but would like to try something else.

Jeff

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