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Joining Balsa Sheets
An easy way to keep this building
page is to print it out! Just set your printer properties to 'Landscape',
and then print a set of full-width color instructions to use at your building
This is not foam
technology, it's balsa sheeting and building
technology, so it will have it's own page. Sheeting with balsa, although pretty
easy, is an art in itself. And if done correctly, the results are nothing short
of amazing. So follow along with me here, and soon youíll be sheeting your
Jack Devine models like a real pro! Once youíve built one of these planes, and
seen how light and strong they are when finished, youíll wonder why you havenít
been building and flying them for years!
first thing I do is sort through the stacks of
sheeting, and one-by-one, I take the sheets and lay them edgewise on the
tabletop, and see which way they bend. They ALWAYS bend one way or another, some
more, some less, and the secret is not to fight that. The average large balsa
sheet you will be building is 6 to 8 sheets wide, depending upon the model
you're building and what surfaces you'll be covering with that sheet. So, find
the correct number of sheets that have about the same amount of bend to them,
and lay them all together on the tabletop facing the same way. The best
description I have for this is to take that many rainbows, and stack them
back-to-back, and that's the general idea of what you're doing here. You'll have
minor gaps, but just a little sanding will take care of that. This is a big time
saver, and you don't waste good balsa material. Once you have them so that there
are no real gaps to speak of, then start at the first row, top or bottom, hold
them together firmly, and every three inches or so tape them firmly together with
Lacquer Tape strips about three to five inches in length.
is the part where you shouldn't get any better
ideas. PLEASE use ONLY
3M 2060 Lacquer Masking Tape.
It's PERFECT for this, and it may look like regular masking tape, but it's NOT. Yes,
it's about $3.50 to $4.00 per roll. You buy it at your local Sherwin-Williams paint
store ( item # 155-3874), and it's worth every single
cent. We also recently got a tip that it's at this web address for sale, so
we'll include that here: http://doityourself.com/store/6954028.htm
If you use masking tape here, you will either be buying more wood, or
you'll end up with a model surface that looks like the surface of the moon.
Masking tape doesn't respond well to being wet and drying. Don't do that to yourself!
Make sure you hold the sheets together firmly as you tape them, you want them to
seal seamlessly when finished. This will go very fast, you'll be surprised how
fast. Once you've done this part of the taping, it will look like you're looking down a six-lane
road with green dotted lines! Now, follow this up by taking more strips and
filling the gaps between your first batch. Two reasons for this
step; first, it seals the entire seam so no glue
squeezes out the back. Second, when the glue is dry and you are removing the tape,
those tape-lines will peel off in one long strip, every time! (Oh, what a
happy guy this step made me once we started filling the gaps, it wasn't always
included as a step! Try peeling up one or two hundred separate pieces
sometime! T.E.D.I.O.U.S.....) Okay, you've
finished taping that sheet, so put the sheet aside, and make up your next sheet the same way. Make sure of the size sheets you're going to
need, that's determined by the model you're building. Jack Devine can help you with
these numbers, and the video can too. Youíll need about six-together for a
wing-chord like my GeeBee Z, you'll need to make up FOUR of these big sheets of
six-together for all the tops and bottoms of the entire wing.
NEXT. This step is SO easy! You'll need your
bottle of SIG-Bond aliphatic resin glue with the pointed tip, a pile of old
sport socks or a bunch of absorbent rags, a bucket of nice warm water, a
1-1/2-inch puttyknife, and a flat tabletop with a square edge to do this.
Lay the sheet on the tabletop, the side with the
tape on it should be placed facing DOWN, so you don't see the tape.
Slide the piece toward the edge of the table until each of the balsa sheets hang
downward, finally leaving only ONE sheet laying flat at the top. This opens up
the seam between the top sheet and the next sheet hanging down. Secure the top
sheet whatever way you can, I use a long, fairly heavy weight.
Using the pointed tip of the SIG-Bond,
squeeze a small amount into the gap you've opened along the entire length of the
sheet. You'll get better as you go. Just make sure you leave NO gaps in the glue
line. Try not to overdo it either, but you can always wipe away extra if you
need to, so no big deal.
got the seam filled with glue? Take the sheet, and
pull it up and over the edge of the table until the next seam comes up and opens
at the edge, just like the first was. The glue seam you just laid in is now
laying flat and has now closed on the glue, which should squeeze into the
sheeting on both sides, and some will squeeze out the top. Secure the sheet with
your weight. Take the puttyknife and hold it at about a forty-five degree angle
with the beveled edge of the puttyknife's edge down. Smoothly and firmly
run down the length of the glue seam, and it will pick up virtually all of the
glue above the seam. You can save the glue you've collected on the
puttyknife in a separate glue bottle or just wipe off the blade. I
wouldn't recommend putting the reclaimed glue back into your fresh glue bottle, but it's
certainly still good for general applications. Take a damp (NOT dripping)
rag and wipe the length of the glued seam, removing excess glue. Turn the rag
frequently or use fresh rags as needed, throw the gooey ones into the warm water
in the bucket where they can soak off the glue so you can keep using them. Just
remove the excess, don't go after the seams too much right now, wait until
you've finished the entire sheet. Then you'll want to go over it with the whole
sheet laid flat upon the table, making sure that you get any glue off that's
still showing. Follow this up with a soft dry cloth to pick up glue residue in
the excess moisture there. This will leave you with a nice smooth sheet
that should not require any sanding! And once again, we've followed our
cardinal rule of not sanding away at our good balsa
at some point here, with the dampness and the grain of the balsa the sheet may
look all warped to you. IGNORE THIS. Later on in here I'm going to show you an
EASY way to make sheets lay flat whenever you need them to!
you want to do right now is to take the sheet, tape
side DOWN, and put something long like a 2X4 under each outside edge to apply
some extra pressure to the seams by gently closing them even tighter together
than when they're laying flat. Let it dry.
a couple of hours it will be dry. You can lay the sheet on the
table again, tape side UP. Remove the lines of Lacquer Tape covering the seams
slowly and steadily. Lacquer Tape doesn't glue itself down to the spot
after it has been wet, and it doesn't stick to the aliphatic resin, so it will
come off without a hitch (I love this stuff!)!
almost for sure right now, your sheet will have some kind of warp to it, and
you're worried that when you start sheeting it won't lay on right. Relax. Once
you're ready to lay things out for marking and cutting to size, take the sheets
and decide which side will be the outside surface (the better side). We're
building sheets to cover wing surfaces thus far, so I'll proceed along those
lines. I usually
take the four wing sheets, pick out the two best sides of the two best sheets,
and make them my wing-tops.
you've chosen the best sides, mark the insides so
you know. Now, just before you get ready to lay pieces on to mark them, spray
the OUTSIDE of the sheet with a 50/50 mix of ammonia and water lightly. Within
seconds, you'll see whatever warp you were worried about just melt away. Once
you lay it back down, that sheet will lay so flat on the table you'd think you
glued it there! Go ahead and mark it to size, and cut out your pieces using your
here on the sheeting is covered on the Foam
Building Technology page of this site. More to come about attaching the
1/4" runners alongside the fuse, however.
I gathered together
the items I needed to go and buy to build my Jack Devine model. Some of them are standard tools we often use in
stick-building. Because many of the building techniques are
substantially different from other kits, I had to pick up some other
Most of these items can be found at
your local hobbystore. But others can be found at Wal-Mart & Home Depot, which I
found to be a nice change.
Wal-Mart Items : Elmer's water-based Interior
Wood Filler (awesome for boo-boo repairs!) Exterior
type smells nasty! Sanding blocks & sandpaper. Tite-Bond or
other Aliphatic Resins.
Home Depot items: A coping
saw, a puttyknife, a long aluminum ruler, and a formica countertop roller.
From the paint aisle came the 3" knapped roller (NOT FOAM), various sanding
sponge-blocks and sandpaper, Tite-Bond or Elmer's Wood Glue
(Aliphatic Resin) and some denatured alcohol.
The Tupperware tub for overnight
storing and rolling on of the Foam Bond came from the supermarket. I just
cut a small slot at the center of one end for the roller handle! VERY
The Hobby store provided 5 minute,15 minute, and finish-cure
epoxy, a little bit of CA, X-acto knives, one long and one short
sanding board, Sig-Bond (Aliphatic Resin), SIG Epoxo-lite, SIG sandable filling sealer, and the
Monoject 412 syringe for tight-quarters epoxy injecting work. Your local
surgical supply store can provide these syringes as well.
Sherwin Williams paint stores
have the 3M #2060 Lacquer Masking Tape.
They're a national chain, and the stock number they use is # 155-3874. If
they don't have it on a shelf, ask them to order you this stock number. We
also recently got a tip that it's at this web address for sale, so we'll include
that here: http://doityourself.com/store/6954028.htm
Check out these Jack
Just Pick, Click, and FLY to their page!
Jack Devine Models
14906 114th Ave. N.E.
Kirkland, WA 98034 - 1031
Business and Information line: 1- 425 -
822 - 8130
Toll-Free Order Line (Not for information): 1- 800- 897- 0717