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Sanding Sealer?


Well-known member
It's been a long time since I built much out of balsa, but I made a camera mount for my Freewing 64mm A-10 out of balsa, and was looking at putting a paint finish on it. The last time I did much in wood, I used sanding sealer on the balsa before the finish. I looked at a couple of craft stores tonight, both of which sold balsa stock, and neither had sanding sealer. Even looking on Amazon, there was only a couple of results. Has the use of sanding sealer fallen out of practice, replaced by something better? Or is it just that working in balsa is increasingly rare, such that few places stock more than just the rudimentary supplies?


Well-known member
Dope is getting harder and harder to find in the smaller hobbyist sizes. Not sure it's still available but we used to use Sig clear dope and add baby powder to it to thicken it up. It sanded well and smelled great! I haven't tried it but I've heard of people doing the same with water based polyurethane like Minwax polycrylic. (WBPU)



Well-known member
You can still buy a quart of either butyrate or nitrate from univair, but it is $$$. Sealer just raises the sanding fuzz so you can smooth it back down with more coats and it also fills in the grain with talc. Minwax makes 1/2 pints of one step sealer/finish IF you're not using fuel


Skill Collector
I found that with water based sealers (like the Minwax water based polyurethane) it's important to do both sides at once or it'll warp the wood. Oil based polyurethane spray, spray on varnish, chalk artists spray"fixative", or the classic Sig Sanding Sealer in a can have all worked great for me.


Well-known member
I think we still have some polyurethane at home. I may just go with that.

As I said, it's been a long time since I did much with balsa! The fact that it's lightweight and easy to work with, though, made it ideal for fashioning the camera mount.