So, You Want to Build Your First Balsa Plane? Start HERE!

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
EDIT: 1/25/2020. I'm updating the first posts to include a new balsa kit manufacturer, which is doing a fantastic job at getting people into building with balsa. Other misc. changes will be done as well.
EDIT: 6-30-19. During the following posts I mention Mountain Models a number of times as being a good source for a first kit. Until further notice I no longer suggest buying from them. They are trying to sell the company and have had very poor shipping recently.

On with the show!

We've all seen "the question" come up numerous times on RC forums, FaceBook groups, etc. "I want to build my first balsa plane, what kit should I get?" Personally, I get all giddy at the thought of converting somebody from foam to balsa because I enjoy it so much and they're simply missing out on all the fun! The goal with these posts is to help lay down a plan for somebody new to balsa that will help them achieve successful flight with their first balsa build. Regardless of how that first planes looks, the goal is for it to FLY. Even if it doesn't fly well, even if it is a bit warped, even if the covering is wrinkled, none of that matters as much as getting a successful flight! You can worry about all those issues on the next build.

Getting back to "the question", how do you respond to that seemingly simple question from somebody enthusiastic to jump right in? A common answer is "Buy a Sig Four Star" (nothing against that kit, it looks like it would be a lot of fun and it doesn't look too difficult, but I see that same answer online regularly). While it can be built as the first build, it doesn't give the new builder the best chances for ultimate success. To really jump in and get a taste of balsa the kit should be inexpensive, approachable, easy to build, FAST to build, and offer little chance of error.


Consider what kind of experience the new builder will get from taking your advice. Are you setting them up for success or for failure? Building your first balsa plane is drastically different than assembling your first foam ARF. Special tools are required, more space is often mandatory, different skills come into play, and patience is truly a virtue. There is also a learning curve, so don't set somebody up to be discouraged! Look at all the half-built planes available at swap meets (or in my basement :) ). Getting stuck and discouraged half-way into a build is an easy way to drive somebody right back into the waiting arms of foam.

By now, the astute readers may be asking themselves what my qualifications are to answer one of the most important questions of our time. Well... I've got a computer, internet access, and an opinion. These days that's all it takes to be an expert! :) Honestly, I'll freely admit that I've only been in the hobby for less than 10 years, and actively balsa building most of that time. I'm not an expert builder, but after decades of work in sales, having been a corporate trainer and also a licensed teacher I've got a good idea what motivates / demotivates people and how to lay out a plan for success.

Back on topic, balsa opens up a lot of freedom to build what you want, not just what is available as a foam ARF. I would be remiss if I didn't mention what people can do with carving and shaping of the larger foam blocks, but that is a different topic worth investigating. HERE is a build that will give you a great idea of what can be done with thick foam. This is a skill that is ABSOLUTELY worth developing as each building media has advantages and you can combine both materials in a plane. But that's another topic for a later date.

Regarding the Sig Four Star example mentioned above, while it's not a difficult kit I don't think it's the best option for the first-time builder. Let's face it, the world is in "instant gratification" mode and most balsa kits on the market require some work and a little skill. The average attention span is now... hey, look at the kitten! It's sad when the good intentions of building a plane end up like this collecting dust in the basement for years, until the kit is eventually thrown away, sold for pennies at a swap meet, or given to somebody else to finish.


That's money lost, time wasted, and the enthusiasm for balsa is gone. However, put that same kit into the hands of somebody who has built a few kits and there is a MUCH higher chance of success. Why? Because the builder has acquired the knowledge and skills to complete the job. He's got the tools to get it done and understands the steps needed. Anybody who has seen what many companies consider "instructions" these days will agree that the best instructions are GOOD, the average instructions are BARELY OK, and the instructions with the cheapest Chinese kits are GARBAGE.

In my opinion, building with balsa is like taking a long journey that may never end. You pick up skills, tools, and knowledge along that journey that can open many doors in this hobby. But it's a journey of learning and it's very difficult to skip over the basics and go right to the advanced part of the journey. Basically, if you can't build an easy kit like this:


You shouldn't even think about building this:


And when you've got the skills to build something like that, you can build just about anything! Seriously, isn't that plane is flippin' gorgeous?!

Time to light this candle!

To keep things simple and somewhat focused we need to lay some groundwork. This thread isn't meant to tell people how to fly, how to program their transmitter, or even charge their batteries. We're going to skip over a whole lot of these topics and work on the assumption that the new balsa builder has flight experience. For all those other topics you're on your own! :)

The biggest hurdle for the NEW builder goes back to that original question and finding the right plane to start with. Especially for somebody who has some flying skills, this is going to be a tough pill to swallow, but DON'T DON'T DON'T start off planning to build that cool scale warbird with retracts and scale interior you saw at the flying field! That's known as a "recipe for disaster".


Pick up a kit from a well-known company that is known for quality laser cutting who sells kits friendly for the first build. Herr, Laines Planes, Willy Nillies, and other companies come to mind. Stick with a good quality laser cut kit over a die-cut kit for the first build, they tend to be less work. And PLEASE don't be suckered in by a low price kit from Chinese sellers! These kits are cheap, but they're cheap for a reason! Spending more for a good kit will save you more time and effort than you can imagine, and the good kit also substantially increases the odds you'll finish your first balsa build. One of the best options I've seen for that first kit is something from Willy Nillies - they can provide everything but the receiver, and the prices are very good.

With balsa, the better kits not only build more easily, but there are often many fanboys out there willing to answer questions that come up. I've built a bunch of "good" kits and also too many of the Chinese kits, so I'm speaking from experience. I'll add some links to my build threads below and you can see what I mean regarding the quality and price. With the first build, simply find something simple and build it for the experience. Even if you only fly it a few times and then pirate the electronics for a different plane you've still learned a lot, which is crucial to balsa building. Don't look at it as wasting money, you're buying experience.

There is another thing I see fairly regularly which would be better to avoid if possible - altering the kit design, modifying the project, or "kit-bashing", as it's called. It's very common for balsa builders to make changes in the kit's design. Maybe you're changing from a gas/glow plane to electric, changing from a tail-dragger to tricycle gear, adding flaps, etc. Either way, these changes can ramp up complexity as well as the structural integrity of the plane quite quickly. Using an electric motor instead of gas engine may not seem like a big deal, but figure that you'll need to add a battery try, access to the battery, ESC, cooling for both, the components may lead to issues with balance, etc. It all adds up, so ideally find the first plane or two with a design you can live with and get that experience.

Over the next few posts I'll lay out details on what it takes to build a fairly simple balsa kit - the tools and supplies. Most RC fliers have many of the tools already, but there are specialty tools that come into play when you get into balsa. The more advanced build you take on, the more advanced tools you'll need to succeed. This first kit, however, only needs a few items 'cause you're smart and following my plan. :)


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Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
So you're still with me and I haven't scared you off from trying balsa? Cool, generations from now people will talk of you in hushed tones around campfires. :cool:

Regardless of the plane you ultimately choose to start with, there are some tools you'll need and some other items to consider. First, where are you going to build the plane, on the dining room table or do you have dedicated work area? Both work, but know that even an easier balsa build isn't necessarily a fast balsa build, and working with balsa creates dust & debris. Depending on your kit and time commitment it could be done in days or it may take months. If you're working on the kitchen table be prepared to take flack from the parents or spouse if the kit is left out for an extended period! A dedicated work area is best, as you can spread out parts and leave everything from day to day.

In my example I'm going to reference a plane I built for my dad a couple years ago, the Mountain Models Dandy Sport. This is the finished plane, ready for a maiden flight. Total construction time was only a few days, and I don't feel I was rushing construction.


The Dandy is a simple design and an easy build, perfect for a calm day at the park. It's not a scale design, there are few "frills", and no bells or whistles. By outlining my build of this plane I'll end up touching on most of the tools you'll need to build your own plane. Note that many items are "personal preference" and builders can substitute and use similar products as they wish. Like many balsa builds, this one starts with a kit.


Keep in mind that this is not the cheapest kit on the market. I think I paid somewhere close to $55 for it. But note that price includes the wheels, landing gear wire, velcro for the battery, pushrods and ends, a plan page, and a manual. A MANUAL. In English and complete sentences that actually make sense. Pinch me, I'm dreaming! :rolleyes: When I discuss the "cheap" kits you'll really see what the extra up-front cost gets you, and it's worth every penny.

The kit above is sitting on what I used for a building board for that model, a simple ceiling tile from Home Depot cut to 2' x 2' square. The edges were taped with painters tape since the edges were rough. Some people build on this side of the board and others like building on the back - it's personal preference. Building on a tile like this would allow you to easily move the entire build if your main work area is the kitchen table.

Laying out all the parts for inspection is next. Make sure you've got all the parts and sheets for your kit, it's not unheard of for something to be missing and you'll want to contact the supplier right away to get the oversight taken care of.


The kit is inspected and ready, so next we'll go through the supplies and tools I'm going to use. Some of these are optional and I'll point those out when we get to 'em. As you build more models you find out what works for your build style. Notice that the supplies shown here are pretty generic. Glue, a knife, sandpaper, pins, wax paper, and some weights. Not shown are the tools for covering the model or the soldering iron for the electronics, but we'll get there soon enough.


Glue is a topic that has been done to death and everybody has an opinion on THE BEST glue. My glue choices change constantly. If I'm not in a big hurry I like to use Titebond II. It cleans up with water, dries fairly light weight, and gives you time to re-position parts before it sets. Plus, it's cheap and you can find it any any hardware store. Often I'll use a small paintbrush to help get it where I want it, and occasionally I'll use a small syringes to squeeze it into tight spots with a high degree of accuracy. It can be thinned with water if the application calls for it.


Another very common style of glue is "CA" glue, AKA Super Glue. It's available in various thicknesses that are useful in different situations. It also sets super fast and has been known to glue people to their plane. A debonding spray is available to help you out when you accidentally glue your fingers together. Seriously, it's common. If you use CA get debonder. My bench normally has thin, medium, and thick CA glue. Thin is great when you've got a nice tight fit for the parts as the CA will "wick" into the wood and lock the parts together almost instantly. Thicker CA is often slightly slower acting and can also fill small voids if the part fit isn't perfect. Small gaps can be bridged with scrap sheet. With the thin CA consider getting a "pipette" which helps you get just a tiny amount of glue on the joint. You normally don't need more than a drop or two.


Epoxy is also something you'll always find on my work bench. Mainly because I didn't clean it off before it dried... :rolleyes: Many basic kits probably aren't going to need epoxy, but most RC flyers already have it. My preference is for 30 minute epoxy over the 5 or 15 minute varieties. You'll also NOT need the hot glue gun for most balsa builds, so put it away! Well, you may find a use for it somewhere, but put it away anyway so you're not tempted to use it. With balsa, building light is your friend and hot glue & epoxy are somewhat heavy. Also, there are different types of epoxy on the market, so try and stick with a general "hobby" type for now. I also use finishing epoxy in certain applications, and will also thin epoxy with denatured alcohol when needed. It makes it much easier to brush on larger areas, like firewalls for gas powered planes.

With any balsa build there is going to be some sanding required. Balsa dust is very fine and gets EVERYWHERE. It'll clog up your furnace filter, get tracked around the house, and I've gotten sinus infections from breathing it too much. Sanding outside and using a breeze to carry away the dust is a great idea, but not always practical. I've recently started putting a furnace filter over the front of a box fan to help trap the dust and it's really helped. For sanding you don't need to go overboard to start. A sanding bar like this is nice, but not necessary.


As a new builder you can EASILY get by with a paint stick and some self-adhesive sandpaper. Most of the planes designed for easy construction don't require extensive sanding, so save some money for now 'cause you're going to be hooked on balsa and that money will help buy the next kit! :applause: Having a couple different sandpaper grits available is fine, but if funds are tight just get some 200-220 grit and you'll be fine for now. For my general use I have a sanding bar with 220 and another with 80 grit. I also keep 600 grit and even finer for occasional use. I get a lot of use out of the sanding bar, but also use a section from a paint stick, and even a Popsicle stick all used as sanding tools. The small sticks are great for getting into tight places, and they're dirt cheap.

Pins are a big part of balsa building, and surprising to many new builders is the plethora (look it up) of pin styles. Sewing pins, T pins, tacks, etc all do essentially the same thing, hold pieces down or hold them together. This is an area you'll want to spend a couple bucks on. Taking mom's sewing pins may seem like a good idea, but when they get returned (IF they get returned?) they may be bent or covered with glue. The pins with the glass heads are also known to break when you push hard on them which can lead to a pin getting stuck in your finger. The "T" shaped pins are a great option as they're easy to insert or remove. Note there are different thicknesses available, so go with a thin style to start.


Without a doubt, my favorite pin for working with balsa is from Hobby Express. These pins are thin, crazy-sharp, and the big head makes them easy to install/remove.


Here's an optional item, but one that is incredibly handy. The small spring clamps were purchased from Harbor Freight and cost maybe $6 or so for 20 of them. I have three sets and occasionally I end up using ALL of them at once. Like rich relatives, you can never have too many. The bar clamps shown are also very handy, although I don't use them nearly as often as the spring clamp. However, it's one of those items where when you need it, you REALLY NEED it and nothing else will do. For now, skip both clamp styles but plan on getting them for future builds.



Not all tools need to be fancy or store bought. These bags originally held servos that I purchased, and I re-purposed them by filling them with BBs to create weight-bags. I also filled some larger bags and find myself using these on a regular basis. The BBs distribute weight over a bigger area without poking holes in the wood. Like the clamps, they probably aren't needed on the first couple builds. You can get similar results by putting sand or other dense material in the bag. Be careful with the material you select, as a tear or cut in the bag will release the contents. BBs are easy to pick up, while sand makes a bigger mess.


This is a optional tool that helps avoid creating too much balsa dust. It's a razor planer designed to "shave" the balsa edges without sanding. These are often used on thick leading edges that start off square and need to be sanded to a curve. Instead of creating all that dust or trying to carve it with a knife, the builder can simply run the planer over the balsa a few times to remove balsa without dust. It's not needed yet, but when you have the right situation they're incredibly helpful. They're also pretty cheap and the blades last longer than expected.


Did anybody notice that I skipped over the knife or ruler? These are already on most RC pilot's work tables. Use what you already have when possible. I've got short 6" rulers, the 18" one shown above, and metal yard sticks to be used as needed. Get a supply of blades for the knife, as cutting balsa with a dull knife creates poor results. The wax paper mentioned above is fairly simple - cover your plans with it to protect the paper. Note that CA will stick to wax paper, although it can be sanded off. I'll use plastic wrap as well, which doesn't tend to stick quite as bad with CA. Both are fine with Titebond type glues. Keep in mind that every time you stick a pin through the wax paper you're creating a hole for the thin glues to get to your plans, so act accordingly. Let's be honest, you'll forget and accidentally glue your plane to the wax paper, your plan, and your building board at least a few times. It's part of the learning curve! :)
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Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Here I'd like to offer some additional resources, tutorials, podcasts, websites, etc. These will be added-to or modified as time goes on. Many resources are simply links to threads that somebody else has done. I'm not going to take credit for their work, so check it out where they put it.

First up is a great list of topic after topic, enough to keep you busy reading for days! Scroll through and you're sure to find a couple good things to learn.

Next up is a tutorial on COVERING YOUR PLANE. This topic has been done to death, but this is one of the best examples I've seen. I won't bother trying to re-create the wheel with my own blah blah blah, just check this thread.

Speaking of covering, there is a good thread that covers the light-weight "SoLite" film as well. I really like this stuff, but it gives many people fits.

Since this is the information age (at least I think it's still the information age?) many people get info online. Heck, you're reading this on some type of computer or phone, so I guess that's reasonably true. :) I listen to a lot of podcasts, which makes 90 minutes of commute time daily more bearable. Here are a couple of my favorites - no links, find them with your podcast program of choice.

#1, the Crashcast. Michael "Crash" Hancock (RIP to a great friend of the hobby) was doing this longer than just about anybody in the hobby, and his shows are an absolute treasure of good information... except for that "summer of multi-rotor" nonsense. I really suggest going back and listening to his shows from the beginning.

#2, the Flite Test Community Podcast. I may be slightly biased since I was a guest on one show, but they've also got a lot of good content. It swings into FPV, multi-rotor, etc too often for my taste, but they often still discuss planes. Yeah, a lot of them are foamboard, but that's a big part of the hobby.

#3, the Flite Test podcast. Nowhere near enough talk about planes, much less balsa, but it's still a good listen where you can learn.

#4, the Angle of Attack podcast, which picked up where the Crashcast left off. In my opinion, not as good as the Crashcast, but there is still good info to be found.
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Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
There are hundreds of balsa build-threads out there, on this forum, RC Groups, etc. of varying usefulness. Trying to create a tutorial that covers "real world" building is fairly difficult, so I'm going to suggest pursuing some of those build-threads to show the process from start to finish. I'll cover some of what I consider "good" kits for a beginner, to projects that no sane first-time builder should try. Note that each example includes a LINK to the build thread.

First up is the Mountain Models "Dandy" I built for my dad a few years ago. This would be an excellent choice for a first-time build. Although Mountain Models is currently operating, the owner is selling off the company and I don't know if this kit will be available in the future. Mountain Models Dandy Build LINK.


Next is another Mountain Models build, the EVA Bipe. This too, is a decent plane for a new builder. It's more complex than the Dandy, but still fairly easy to build. A number of people built various versions of the EVA on a Balsa Build Along recently. Truth be told, as of this writing I still haven't finished mine even though it's super close to being done. I got bored with it, and prefer much larger planes so it is currently collecting dust, but it WILL be finished eventually! :)


For the more adventurous flyer, Laine's Planes makes the 'Cuda, which has far more performance potential than the Mountain Models planes. It's a well designed kit that was surprisingly easy to build. Mine was lost due to loss of orientation while near the ground. Oops! :)


Those are all decent planes for a first build, so now let's look at what too many people actually start with! :p

My first balsa builds were from Mountain Models, so I figured I had this whole balsa thing figured out. Why were their kits so expensive compared to the kits Hobby King was selling? Knowing everything about balsa I decided to buy one of their kits, the Red Swan, and prove my intelligence.

......and I ended up learning WHY the HK kits are so cheap. First up, the Red Swan build thread! Right out of the box I knew why it was cheaper. The "manual" was a simple 2-page document that gave very little useful information, the laser cutting quality was questionable, and the accessories included were cheap quality. But I finished it, and learned a lot in the process! It really forced me to think ahead on the build, as I couldn't rely on the instructions at all. After doing a few of these HK kits I felt like I was in the Matrix, seeing problems pop up far in advance so I could avoid them.

Red Swan in TG-3A colors.jpg

So with one horrible Red Swan build under my belt, what's the next logical thing to do? Build it again! :black_eyed: This time, I wanted to fix all kinds of things I found wrong with the design, mainly the weight. It was a very sturdy design, and for a glider that means extra weight. I wanted to try and cut that weight by about 20%, so I started another kit and did all kinds of mods, eventually ending up close to that 20% weight savings. After this, I had Red Swan Fever, and picked up a THIRD Red Swan kit to really bash on. Although they aren't finished (yet?) I'm using 1 kit to make 2 planes. One is more of a "warm-liner" style plane with a V-tail and the other is turning this kit into an EDF powered version of the German "Salamander" from WWII. Luckily, I lost interest in both and moved on to better kits. :)

Red Swans.JPG

My next Hobby King balsa build was their SunBird, a blatant design rip-off of the Bird of Time, which I consider one of the best looking designs ever. This one was build pretty much by-the-book. Again, no manual or help to build it, I was on my own!


The last HK balsa plane I built was the Cessna 182. This plane really soured me (finally!) on building their crappy kits. The kit was overly-complex, poorly designed (assuming you want it to actually FLY), and generally a waste of time. It's currently sitting on the shelf needing only a windshield, programming of the electronics, and a few tweaks to the wheels so they actually roll. And it'll probably sit that way for another couple years, as I have zero interest in finishing it. However, maybe it'd be worth making it fly well enough to send into combat at Flite Fest...! Thankfully, this kit was discontinued.


Sometimes a challenge pops up that you dive in on. Back in late 2013 Model Airplane News was holding a "Build to Win" contest, where everybody would start with the same basic kit design (picture a low-wing 'Stick' design), and they'd bash it into whatever new design they wanted. I turned mine into a Ryan Navion, complete with retracts. It still accompanies me to the field occasionally, and like the HK kits, I learned a lot building this plane. I'd absolutely do it differently if I had to do it over, but that's part of the learning process!


After building a number of kits I wanted to do a plans-only build, and picked the plans for the L-19 from Rich Uravitch. It's a 3 channel park-sized flyer and looked like a good candidate. The build wasn't too difficult, but there were errors on the plan which I had to work around. It's a nice looking plane that doesn't care for wind. The wing and fuselage both require a fair amount of sheet bending, so for that alone it's a good design to learn from.

photo (2).JPG

I'll skip past a number of other projects I have worked on, as many of them are fixing/rescuing planes that were already built. While there is much to discuss or learn from those builds, it gets away from the main focus of this thread. Then again, so does this last build I'll mention. :p Over the past few years I've really been bit hard by the "giant scale bug", and my biggest build to date is another L-19, this time from Wendell Hostetler plans. This is no kit and there are no instructions, just two very large drawings to work from. As is common, I found a couple errors, but all of the previous builds have prepared me fairly well for them. Wingspan on this plane is 116" and it's powered by a 58cc gas engine. It's still far from complete, but this is not a quick project. Build threads like this can be helpful in learning how to overcome problems, read into what the designer was thinking, etc. Again, with projects like this there is often little useful help to be found online, so the builder has to be ready for anything!

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Old and Bold RC PILOT
I will watch this with interest!

I was gifted a Four Star 20EP due to a serious crash and the person who built the kit had thrown out all of the "Leftover bits" after the build was complete. I had to work out sizes and shapes of many of the pieces myself and sadly I have crashed it twice since then and so it is in the shop for the third time. Save all of the bits so you can make replacement balsa/ply parts if needed in the future!.


Elite member
One of the most informative posts I've seen for newbies. Enough to dissuade them from the impending failure of trying a complicated kit or something like a "cool" scale P-51 etc for a first attempt and to look at a basic, easy to build trainer FIRST! Few of us were successful with our first NON trainer birds before we had lots of trainer flight hours under our belts. I always hated when full scale pilots showed up with a scale build thinking they knew how to fly only to destroy it within seconds of takeoff! It's a whole different ball game with R/C. Ego needs to stay at home. Come to the field humble and ask for all the help you can get. You'll get more than you ever expected!

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Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
One of the most informative posts I've seen for newbies. Enough to scare them away from the impending failure of trying a complicated kit or something like a "cool" scale P-51 etc for a first attempt and to look at a basic, easy to build trainer FIRST! Few of us were successful with our first NON trainer birds before we had lots of trainer flight hours under our belts. I always hated when full scale pilots showed up with a scale build thinking they knew how to fly only to destroy it within seconds of takeoff! It's a whole different ball game with R/C. Ego needs to stay at home. Come to the field humble and ask for all the help you can get. You'll get more than you ever expected!

While its' not necessarily my intention of scaring anybody away, I understand what you mean, and you're right. Especially people who currently fly RC, they want to jump in and start building at a similar level to what they're used to flying, and it's a recipe for disaster.

My first build attempt was about 35-40 years ago with a Sig Cub. I had no resources to turn to for help (Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet), magazines were limited assistance, and I didn't know anybody who built or flew planes. I got the fuselage and wing mostly done, but they looked horrible and eventually the kit got thrown away. It was WAY too much plane for me at the time, I fully realize that now.

It's often true what you said about full scale pilots. My dad was a commercial pilot for decades flying the 727, 737, 757, and 767s over his career, both domestic and international flights. While he could easily handle the complexity of full scale, it was a major learning curve to be able to handle RC after retiring. It was really the E-Flite Apprentice S that allowed him to work out the reflexes needed, as he didn't grow up playing video games like many of us now flying. I don't think he had the problem with the ego that many have, and he keeps plugging away and now is enjoying building more than flying. Balsa building, by the way. :)

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
I will watch this with interest!

I was gifted a Four Star 20EP due to a serious crash and the person who built the kit had thrown out all of the "Leftover bits" after the build was complete. I had to work out sizes and shapes of many of the pieces myself and sadly I have crashed it twice since then and so it is in the shop for the third time. Save all of the bits so you can make replacement balsa/ply parts if needed in the future!.

The Four Star! I can't believe how many times that model has come up over the past few years, I really need to build one some day. :)


Posted a thousand or more times
I would like to see you discuss which glues to use where. Said another way, when should I use a thick CA versus a thin CA and when should I be using wood glue? What about epoxy? Why would I choose one glue over the others for a particular application? What are the differences that come up in building for electric power versus gas? Which coverings are best for which applications (scale fabric look, super light for 20" span, very strong but heavier for large size, etc.)? When should I glass and when should I just sheet? When should I do both?

I know the answers to some of these but those are some of the questions I've found myself researching. I'm interested in the why more often than the how.

Great thread!

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Thanks for the idea, I'll add some notes to one of the reserved posts as a reminder to do that. I'll probably do an overview of some of the popular types of glue and then list 2 or 3 that should be used for the first build. After that the builder can experiment with different types and find what works best for them. For quite a while I never used CA, but have recently started using it again for certain parts of the builds.

I'll also cover various tools to get started with (pins, knife, building board, etc).


Elite member
Using "scare" in my post above was a poor choice of words. Dissuade probably would have been more fitting and I'll change it.



Got Lobstah?
Site Moderator
Am I the only one that has a growing list of projects that I really want to do but find little time to actually make real progress on them? Uff!

Adding one to more to mine. The precision and elegance calls out to be built.

Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
Am I the only one that has a growing list of projects that I really want to do but find little time to actually make real progress on them? Uff!

Adding one to more to mine. The precision and elegance calls out to be built.

My list is growing somewhat out of control at the moment. One thing that really needs to migrate to the top of the list is the reorganization of my shop and finding a way to store the planes. Smaller ones hang easily from the ceiling by the prop, but I don't want to do that with the bigger planes. A storage rack that holds the fuselage and wings horizontally should be made soon, along with building a better work table.



Elite member
For storage I built some racks from PVC pipe that work well. I'm sure you've seen them done by other people. I got the idea from a post on RC Groups a long time ago. Dirt cheap and fast to build. If I can't find the RCG post I'll take some pictures when I get home tonight.


Joker 53150

Mmmmmmm, balsa.
I think I know exactly what you mean, I've seen various versions online. The trick will be maximizing storage since my wife won't let me take over the entire basement. Yet.