Balsa wood is the material of choice for the construction of model aircraft, for good reason — it is light and soft, yet very strong. During World War II, balsa wood was even used to produce a full-scale airplane: the de Havilland Mosquito, a fast-moving bomber also known as "the Wooden Wonder." Balsa wood can easily be shaped into curves and arches, although following some specific practices is necessary to ensure that the wood will arch without splitting or breaking.
Things You'll Need
- Balsa wood
- Container of appropriate size
- Warm water
- Arch template
- Masking tape
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Fill a container with a mix of equal parts ammonia and warm water. The container should be large enough for the piece of balsa wood to easily fit in it.
Submerge the balsa wood in the container and leave to soak for at least one hour. The ammonia will break down the balsa wood at a cellular level, making it more flexible.
Place the soaked balsa wood on the template, adjust it to the desired arch and tape it down firmly using the masking tape. Always bend balsa so that the grain runs the length of the piece. This will make the bending easier and the finished piece stronger.
Leave the balsa wood to rest for at least one full day, until completely dry. Depending on weather and temperature, the drying process may take as long as two or three full days.
Remove the dried balsa from the template.