mark poulson

Which Balsa To Use?

22 posts in this topic

I'm hoping you'll have the answer to this.

My friend asked me to duplicate one of her original Fat Raps.

I've tried to do it in PVC trimboard, but it's too heavy, so I am contemplating trying it in balsa.

Is there a specific hardness I should look for in the balsa I buy?

Is there an online source where I can buy it in small quantities?

Thanks in advance.

The PVC Fat Raps weren't a total loss. I duplicated the Fat Rap's shape, and, in the process of duplicating the bill, I was able to cold bend my 1/8" lexan to form both the angle of the bill, and the scoop of the bill, so I learned something new from doing it.

I think the lures will work better with a bill that lines up with the centerline of the lure, instead of being bent in a down angle. I am hoping that will increase both the side to side wobble, and the stability.

Any ideas will be gratefully accepted.

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One thing about ordering a specific grade of balsa is that you can expect to pay a good bit more for it. Whenever you order a specific grade the supplier has to hand pick it and that drives the cost up. Below is where I got my last order of balsa from and they classify it as hard, medium or soft if you want a specific grade. They charge an extra 30% to hand select it.

Ben

http://www.balsawoodinc.com/balsawoodproducts

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Balsa is between 6 and 18 lbs/cubic ft, averaging 12 lbs/cu ft. I think 12 lb balsa is great for crankbaits but like Ben says, you pay considerably more if you want to specify what you order. I think it's worth it. To some extent, the density you want depends on how buoyant you really want the crankbait to be. I build some cranks with 6 lb balsa to get extreme buoyancy and show the bass something they won't see in any commercial bait - but you have to accept diminished durability when you do that (that's OK by me, I'll just build MORE!). But if you want a crankbait similar in performance to a Fat Rap, I think you'll want at least 12 lb balsa and will want to build it toward a finished target weight of a Fat Rap.

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Thanks for all the replies.

I'll start looking for the 12lb balsa.

I'm guessing that's the medium on Ben's site.

I couldn't open his site, but I found some at Solarbo.com.

Have any of you used them?

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I did find a website who said they don't charge extra for heavy balsa but I can't remember what I was.

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Try this one Mark. It's the same website. Just their home page.

Or just type "balsa supplier" into your browser and you'll get a bunch of sites that sell it.

http://www.balsawoodinc.com/

Ben

Edited by RayburnGuy

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I use Basswood. It is like a heavier Balsa.

http://www.nationalb...com/default.asp

Quickdraw,

The PVC trimboard I used for the first try is at least as buoyant as basswood, so I don't think that's the answer.

Balsa is soooo buoyant that it make any lure more lively. That's why so many of the "classic" crankbaits, like the Fat Rap, and all of the wooden Rapala's, are made with balsa.

Buoyancy helps even a not so perfect bait succeed, because it enhances any action the bait might have.

I've just stayed away from it because I haven't needed that much buoyancy to this point, and the totally waterproof and easy shaping features of PVC decking and trimboard make bait making so much easier than having to seal and waterproof wooden baits.

But I may get blackmailed into going back to balsa for this lure. Grrr!!!! Hahaha

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ya I usually just order 4 or 5 of the 3*3*12's.... once you get them you can feel the diff in weight. I always weigh and mark each one. Then I have a variety of weights to work with. I cut them in the thichnesses I want on a table saw and usually get 3-5 foot long planks that are 3 inches wide so you can imagine you get a ton of blanks from one block.

If you are going for ease of use I would ask for the dense stuff...the light balsa can be like sanding...well...nothing! it sands so fast and easy its crazy!!!

Hobby Lobby usually has decent prices on balsa too if you have one close.

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Good to see you Matt....i haven't noticed you around in a while...

Don't be a stranger.....

Brent

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A Google search on wood density is useful if you build crankbaits from different woods. There are tables 'out there' on the internet that list the "nominal density" of different wood species. Nominal means they took a variety of samples, dried them to the same water content, and averaged their densities - so your particular piece of wood may be different from the average. But the tables are nonetheless good when you want to compare different wood species when you order wood. I've tried to upload a wood density table to the site a couple of times, without much luck.

Quickdraw, on average, bass wood is almost twice as dense as balsa. I use both for different shallow crankbaits but when I want maximum buoyancy, there really isn't any substitute for balsa. The closest wood I know to balsa is paulownia, which has a nominal density of 16 lbs/cu ft versus 12 for balsa.

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Here is photo of some paulownia growing in my front yard. The tall shoots are only four months old, if you can believe it. I prefer paulownia myself.

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I've got some paulownia growing in my yard as well. It didn't do much growing last year on account of the drought, but year before last it grew over 13'. It's going on it's 5'th year now and the trunk is already about 6" in diameter. Won't be long and it will be ready for building crankbaits. It also makes a really good shade tree.

Ben

Edited by RayburnGuy

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Ben, Most of mine is growing off a stump. I believe the old root system is feeding these new shoots and accelerating their growth. I planted my first tree eight years ago for shade. i knew nothing of lure making at this time. I cut it down and threw away all the wood after letting it grow for five years. I had to cut it because a storm really messed it up. They grow so fast they tend to be brittle. Mine was over 18 inches wide and 30 plus feet tall after five years. Every spring and july new trees come up all over the yard and the stump itself. I was trying everything to get rid of these new trees, when Gene told paulownia was good for lure making. Having no idea of what he was talking about I googled it and discovered this pest in my yard i called a chinese empress tree is more commonly known as Paulownia. I salvaged what i could from the stump and am now waiting on these new trees to grow. Still more trees are coming up than I know what to do with. Mowed down a dozen today. I have an extremely small lawn. One of these four month shoots broke during a recent storm . I am actually making lures out of this wood now. Incredible stuff.

Edited by littleriver

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Mine aren't growing as fast as yours. Probably the difference in climate and perhaps the soil. They can be cut down and will regenerate from the stump and from the roots as you said. I've noticed that the new saplings I get all come up from one of the bigger roots off of the main tree. The nursery I got mine from said they had come up with some type of genetic difference that was supposed to stop them from sprouting up like that. So much for that. They don't grow as fast down here as yours do so they're not that much trouble to keep up with. Guess I'm gonna have to check into how to properly dry the wood after I harvest one. Shouldn't have to buy any Paulownia wood for a while.

Ben

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Once you cut your tree the number of new saplings will increase. I really do not remember that many saplings unit I cut it down. I have some I know are not off the root. I guess these started from seeds. I have seen a few come up in neighbors yards nearby. Really like the how the leaves all fell off at once and really easy to mulch up with the mower. With the small sapling I recently worked I found it easy to peel bark while green. Just cut out a small strip the length of the piece. Then unroll the wood from the bark like toilet paper off the roll. If you allow the bark to dry it darkens wood and is very tough. Also the wood is really easy to carve while green but does have a strong odor. Not bad but strong. The baits i carved kept their shape after drying. Some I dried in the microwave others just air dried in a hot dry place. Right now just about anywhere out of the a/c. If you microwave it is easy to overdo it. I turned one really nice carving into a piece of charcoal. It is a great having your own supply of timber growing in the yard.

Vic

Edited by littleriver

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years back bill crane a well known builder stopped in. i asked. he stated he weighed his balsa. the heavier balsa was used on different models. as we build lures for toothy critters we need heavier density cedars. balsa has its own magic no doubt

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I had a friend that grew his on balsa .....he said about 3 times a year starting in early spring when it wasn't going to be cold again.......he would fertilize with triple 13 and epson salt. He would take and make a 2 inch deep trench around the plant and put fertilizer and epson salt in the trench. NOT to heavy because it will burn the plant......and sprinkle epson salt in with it.....Then cover the trench back up and water till the ground was nice and moist. Water like this about every other day for a week to dissolve the fertilize and epson salt......not telling you to do this....but that's what he did and his plants grew faster than not doing anything at all....good luck

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I cut a Fat Rap apart and found that there is really very little balsa in it. The outside shell is probably no more than a medium weight balsa (10-12) and the insides are plastic. There is also very little weight in the belly.

Fat Raps are very hard to duplicate, at least for me. I guess it is the whole makeup of the bait that throws me including the bent and somewhat scooped lip.

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I cut a Fat Rap apart and found that there is really very little balsa in it. The outside shell is probably no more than a medium weight balsa (10-12) and the insides are plastic. There is also very little weight in the belly.

Fat Raps are very hard to duplicate, at least for me. I guess it is the whole makeup of the bait that throws me including the bent and somewhat scooped lip.

I've been struggling with making a Fat Rap-type lure, too.

I use 1/8" lexan for the bill. I bend mine cold in a vise. It is tough stuff, and doesn't break easily, but it will hold a shape once bent.

After I've bent the bill, I cover the bill with blue painters masking tape and then glue a small cylinder onto the top center of the front of the lip, using crazy glue. I turn it over and glue two more small cylinders onto the outside edges of the bill. Then I put the tip of the bill with the cylinders on it into a vise with wood jaws. I clamp it down slowly until I get the bend I want, plus a little to allow for spring back.

I use small cylindrical dropshot weights for the cylinders. They are about 1/8" diameter, and I find that is the right amount of bend when I close the vise completely. Plus the lead is soft, so it doesn't scar the lexan.

I am still struggling with finding a way to get the huge X action that the Fat Raps have.

I'm going to use Ben's idea of putting the ballast directly at the front hook hanger location, to see if that amplifies the X wiggle.

Why in the world did Rapala stop making them? :flame:

Edited by mark poulson

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