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Video workshop Tip — Making Strong Splices in Balsa Sheeting

Video workshop Tip — Making Strong Splices in Balsa Sheeting

Working with large models, it is often necessary to splice the balsa sheets together for items like wings and long fuselages. To produce strong slices in the balsa sheeting you have to make them at an angle to increase the glue surface so the sheet’s overall strength is not compromised. This workshop video tip by Sr. Tech. Editor Gerry Yarrish shows how to do it correctly.

All adhesives are from Zap Glue. The wing is from Gerry’s 1/3-scale Fokker Triplane built from a Balsa USA kit.

 

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  1. End grain is very weak and the longer the splice, the better. When possible, I try to have the slope of the cuts at least 2:1. I also like to use a back-up for reinforcement; 1/64″ ply works very well and can usually be easily accommodated in the underlying structure. The predominant plywood grain should run the same direction as the balsa grain. The ply strip should extend at least 4 times the thickness of the balsa sheet on either side of the splice, though 6-8 times is better. This process results in a much stronger splice and adds very little weight. Also, always put the splices as far away from the center of the wing as possible (or from the middle of the bend/highest stress area if not on a wing). For maximum strength, I use an aliphatic resin (“yellow”) glue, rather than CA, as it is much more flexible and results in a stronger splice. I normally use Titebond III or Superphatic (which are my preferred glues for building). A little more work, but it results in a stronger structure, and building time is good time.

  2. Great tip! And well-documented videographically. I especially liked the presentation of the gluing process.

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