Engineered Balsa

6 posts in this topic

Greetings heroic tackle crafting community.

I have been working with balsa a lot lately. I am sure all are aware of the plusses and minuses associated with the material.

I have been thinking about ways of impregnating the wood with resin or some such similar material as a way to shore it up... I understand that in WWII the US government was experimenting with engineered wood as a substitute for metal in some applications. They succeeded in producing a wood that was impregnated with plastic through and through, and I believe that this was known as rockwood. A late luthier named Greg Curbow utilized this substance in his bass guitars.

Reading the thread on sealing with superglue, it was mentioned how well capillary action wicks the glue into balsa. I was wondering if anyone had tried impregnating balsa with chemicals prior

to usage, ie before it is worked or carved. I don't think the density would be severely affected but the increased strength and impact resistance would be significant.

My thought was vacuum sealing a thin sealer of some sort into a block of balsa. I know that some chemicals will not cure without gas exchange, but if the wood was left to draw the chemical, it could then be removed to cure. There are also some chemicals that would cure regardless of gas exchange, and these could of course cure in situ.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a mason jar with a block of wood sitting in a thin pool of superglue hooked up to vacuum sealer. Super glue would probably dry too fast but but something else may not. We use the vacuum sealer to marinate stakes much the same way all the time. One can literally see the secret recipe being sucked into those 1 inch lip smacking ribeyes as the vacuum does it's magic.

I am thinking the Balsa would be too hard to work after this and ruin one of the best attributes of working with the wood. Not to mention the weight it would add. I sort of like just adding the thin layer of superglue to just the outside of the bait. Yes it is weak but if I want stronger then I just switch timber.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

SS - I used to vacuum Propionate a few years back (after shaping a blank), worked pretty well, just light sand and then undercoat--

Problem was the propionate went in a fair bit and took a week to "gass off", if you sealed it too soon it would blister everything above it.

The secret is to immerse the blanks completely, suck a vacuum, then leaving blanks submersed release the vacuum and let normal air pressure force the brew into the wood (replacing evecuated air) for about 15 min, you would be amazed how much air the vacuum removes from the wood - don't fill the jar with your brew, leave about 20% for the evacuated air bubbles.


Edited by hazmail

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with Vic on this one. At least for balsa. Not sure how much harder it would be to work with after it was soaked with a sealer, but the main attraction for builders using balsa is the light weight which makes it so lively. If your able to drive the sealer deep into the wood your definitely going to make it heavier and by making it heavier your compromising what makes it so popular in the first place. If I needed something that was going to be stronger than balsa I would choose a different type of wood to start with.

Just my :twocents:


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now