How to Strengthen Balsa Wood

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Balsa wood is a soft, spongy wood that's prized for being so light that it can be cut using a craft knife rather than a saw. In some cases, however, the softness of this wood make it problematic for structures that need a little more strength. Combine the best of both worlds by hardening your balsa wood pieces after they're cut or adding strength through double panes of reinforced wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft knife
  • Balsa wood
  • Wood-hardening solution
  • Large disposable tray or resealable plastic container
  • Tongs
  • Waxed paper
  • Quick-set epoxy
  • Disposable paintbrush

Method One

Cut the balsa wood into the shapes you want for your project; this way, you can get the pieces you want with ease while the wood is still easy to cut.

Pour wood hardener into the disposable container. Fill it deep enough to submerge the thickest piece of balsa wood you've cut.

Submerge each piece of wood in hardening solution using the tongs (do them in turn, or all at once, depending on the size of the container), coating them completely. Hold each piece of wood under the liquid and watch bubbles rise from the spongy wood. Remove each piece when it no longer bubbles and cannot soak up any more hardener.

Lay the wood pieces on waxed paper. Let them dry according to the instructions on the wood hardener, allowing each side of the wood to dry for the allotted time before turning it over to let the other side dry for the same time.

Method Two

Cut two pieces of balsa wood for each piece of your craft project. With each pair of pieces, cut the second one so that it mirrors the first, allowing you to press the two pieces together back-to-back.

Using the paintbrush, coat one of each pair of pieces with epoxy resin. Use a thin coat, but try to cover the entire piece. If the wood is too big or the resin too thick to cover the whole thing, apply epoxy in a line around the outside edge of the wood.

Glue the two pieces of wood together. Press each piece of wood against its matching piece, lining up their edges and pushing them firmly together. Hold the wood pieces together until the epoxy sets, or lay the wood on its side to let gravity hold the pieces in place.

References

  • "The Complete Manual of Woodworking"; Albert Jackson and David Day; 1996
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