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Building boards

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DaveyP30/11/2016 10:34:41
206 forum posts
47 photos

Hi all, I was wondering what traditional balsa builders are using these days to build their aircraft on. What is accepted practice regarding material and size of building board, I'm thinking for aircraft around 48" to 60" wingspan.

Tia, Davey

Andy Meade30/11/2016 10:38:23
2647 forum posts
679 photos

A sheet of plasterboard over my bench tends to work for me, after being shown its benefits by Phil Cooke yes Pins go in easily, and you can turn it over to start afresh when needed. Pretty cheap too!

Mark Kettle 130/11/2016 10:45:03
2449 forum posts
1465 photos

Yes I agree and use Plaster board.

Glyn4430/11/2016 11:10:56
705 forum posts
92 photos

Me too. I buy 3 at a time, 180 0x 900. They are about a fiver each. I cut off one short side so it's fit my worktop, and re seal with broad masking tape. Then I just stack them, use a side, turn it over until useless, break it up, bin it, start the next one on top of the stack. And they are very flat.

Andy Green30/11/2016 11:49:24
2279 forum posts
67 photos
2 articles

I bought a magnetic system from a trader at LMA Gaydon. I've made a few more clamps with magnets from ebay.

Simply love it.


Rob30/11/2016 13:17:55
232 forum posts

I'll second (or fourth !!) the plasterboard idea. Takes pins well and inexpensive enough to through away at the end of the build. Only advise is to cover the cut sides or ends with masking tape or similar to stop the board from leaving a white line on your bestest jumper!!

kc30/11/2016 14:34:01
6057 forum posts
169 photos

Plasterboard is the stuff. Takes pins and also screws if you need to fix spars down firmly.

For models 48 to 60 inch span then a board 48 inches long by 18 to 20 will take most things. Several smaller boards will also come in handy say two bits 30 inch by 14 to build wings in two halves at the same time and a couple of tiny bits for tailplanes and fins etc. The 30 inch lengths are easier to store than bigger bits and easier to keep dead flat.

You might easily find offcuts from builders that will suit, but make sure they are flat.

Plasterboard can be cut by scoring one side with a Stanley knife then place over a batten to fracture it when you press down, fold it right back on itself and cut the remaining paper. So take a 4 ft batten and knife with you when you go to B&Q and you can then get the sheet into small sizes to fit a hatchback. ( they won't cut it on their panel saws! )

Terry Walters30/11/2016 14:47:04
1831 forum posts
1068 photos

Plasterboard - cheap - easily renewed and takes pins well plus you can cut to fit as it's available in large sizes.


GONZO30/11/2016 16:43:43
1287 forum posts
14 photos

Plaster board, YES. But, be aware that it must be used on a flat surface. If the surface/bench has a curve, dip or twist the plaster board will adopt this distortion due to its lack of inherent rigidity.

DaveyP30/11/2016 17:16:59
206 forum posts
47 photos
Well that is very interesting and not at all what I'd expected.

Guess who has just binned lots of spare plaster board as I thought I would never use it....
David Molineux30/11/2016 17:50:15
123 forum posts
18 photos

I use Sundeala which is what noticeboards are made of. Admittedly I bought it before I had joined a club or this forum and so hadn't asked anyone, it just seemed to make sense. A lot more expensive than plasterboard though 😢


Jon Laughton30/11/2016 17:51:32
1176 forum posts
105 photos

Balsa block building boards are available from SLEK UK

Simon Feather30/11/2016 18:03:39
235 forum posts
170 photos

I currently use pieces of 3/4" oak veneered MDF boards left over from when we had our kitchen done, to which I've glued two thicknesses of cork bathrooom tiles. Very flat but reasonably portable. Heavy though! The kitchen company was just going to bin them so I recycled them and have ended up with a selection of sizes which get pressed into various uses depending on what I need at the time.

Tom Sharp 230/11/2016 18:10:22
3554 forum posts
18 photos

Our B&Q builders yard have a corner where they sell off broken plaster boards and other boards at very cheap prices and many other useful things like buckets without handles split bags of sand, plaster, cement, broken lengths of timber etc.

Robert Parker30/11/2016 18:24:22
913 forum posts
1174 photos

I use an acoustic board, cheaper than Sundela board, fixed to 3/4" best ply, expensive, yes , durable, yes. My present sheet has lasted 21 years which I built it in to my bench 7' 6" x 3'.


Old Geezer30/11/2016 23:20:43
632 forum posts

Another vote for the SLEC balsa building board, for convenience mine is used on an old ironing board (rescued from a skip) which can be carefully folded away with your part-built airframe in situ at the end do a session. An additional benefit is you are never the 'wrong side' of your work-piece, either side is equally accessible.

Mannyroad30/11/2016 23:38:15
185 forum posts
81 photos

I'm using a 48" x 24" piece of 3/4" MDF board covered in Sundeala. Had this for years and works great, especially on my old kitchen table which is not pefectly flat. The plasterboard idea is a good one though, so long as the edges are taped/sealed. It could even be corner screwed to a piece of 3/4 MDF to ensure flatness on uneven surfaces.

Chris North 301/12/2016 05:06:35
315 forum posts
512 photos

I use a sheet of 3/4" MDF to protect my work table and then lay cork sheeting, which I got from an art supply shop, over the top. No need to secure the cork to the board as it is anti-slip and by using a single sheet it is easier to cover the whole building board without any edges - unlike tiles.

The MDF is very flat and the cork sheeting allows pins to be easily attached. I have found that using two layers of cork provides a good cushion with plenty of pin gripping power. The cork allows pins to be easily placed, removed and reinserted so there is no need to throw it away or change it - unless of course you forget to use your cutting mat.....

Andy G.01/12/2016 07:41:13
413 forum posts
215 photos

Plasterboard......... Just don't get caught throwing it away! Plasterboard is now considered to be, wait for it........ HAZARDOUS WASTE! And most local authorities will not accept it at landfill sites and will certainly not be happy if they find it in your dustbin!!

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