Basswood - Balsa Wood and Others

By: samw

Many hobbies involve building, carving, or wood burning which require speciality woods. These hobby and craft woods are available for just about any purpose. Hobbyists may choose from balsa, basswood, plywood, walnut, cherry, maple, among others for their project needs. Sheets or strips of these fine woods are available in thicknesses from 1/32 " to one inch, and in widths from 1/16 through six inches. You may purchase either sheets or strips.

Balsa's fine grain combined with its strength and light weight have made it valuable for a great number of uses. Its heat retention ability has made it useful for insulating refrigerator and ship holds. It is used in aircraft to reduce vibration. Surfboards and life preservers have also been manufactured from balsa wood.

Basswood, or linden, is another wood crafters and hobbyists find very useful. This North American wood is grown primarily in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Heavier than balsa, it shares many of it's characteristics - close-grained, strong, and lightweight. Basswood's hobby uses mirror those of balsa, but its heavier weight limits its use in building model airplanes. Because it carves easily, it is the premier choice for both beginning and advanced woodcarvers. Novice wood burners will also find basswood friendly, as it burns well. Like balsa, it is available in strips and sheets. Additionally, specialty shapes for dollhouse building include molding, siding, and roof shingles.

Special project needs may require the use of hobby plywood. This extremely high quality plywood ranges in thickness from paper thin 1/32 of an inch to 1/4 inch. Birch is the wood used, so it can take any stain desired. It is very durable and suitable for many uses.

Balsa is the most versatile of the hobby woods. Native to South America, these sixty foot trees are grown on large plantations. The wood is lightweight and strong. South Americans have been using balsa for boat and raft building since antiquity. Anyone who can recall Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki adventures will know of his successful attempt to reach the Polynesian Islands from South America on a balsa raft.

Crafters and hobbyists will find balsa very easy to cut and carve, making it ideal for a multitude of projects. It can also be painted or stained any color the hobbyist desires. Its greatest value for hobbyists is undoubtedly in the construction of model airplanes. Free flight , control line, and radio control aircraft are all made primarily from balsa wood. Other uses for this versatile wood include model boat building and dollhouse construction, as well as many other craft projects. Model railroaders can use balsa for scratch-building houses and other structures, bridges, and structural support for scenery.

Other woods are available for specialized hobby projects, including walnut, maple, cherry, and mahogany. Twenty four inch lengths include both strips and sheets. The maximum width for sheets is four inches.

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