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I suspect this question has been asked and answered many times. But, an attempted search of this forum I couldn't find the answer.


I'm working on Model Shipways Prince de Nuefchatel. Her boat, launch, is a mini kit offered by Model Shipways separately. I've looked a the solutions many have tried and though they did arrive at a boat eventually, all had problems. I have built a few stick and tissue model airplanes. One of the techniques for making wingtips (wings and stabilizers) is to slice 1/16 sheet balsa very thin. I can make slices 1/64 thick by 1/16. When moistened, these are as flexible as paper. I  make a simple cardboard pattern of the wing tip. Wax the pattern, moisten the balsa, add wood glue sparingly, wrap 3 or 4 of the laminations around the pattern,  tape or pin to a building board to dry. If I was in a great hurry, the assembly could be put in the microwave. A lot of care is required as the glue can burn.


So, unless you all advise me otherwise, I'm going to make the frames for the boat from balsa. I'll most likely use bass wood to stiffen the keel between the bulkheads.


In the late 80s,  I attended a few meetings of a ship model group. There was concern at that time regarding the use of Balsa and Super Glues in their models. Some of the members were concerned that the models they were building would not stand the test of time if balsa or super glue was used.  Some of the ships were expected to go into museums or be heirlooms. I don't expect that my work will ever see the front door of a museum. I would not mind if my daughter or grandson wanted one of my creations.


As to my other experience with balsa, I built a number of competition radio controlled sailplanes with 100 inch wingspans in the early 80s. The spars were 1/8 by 3/8 inch spruce and the forward sides of the fuselage were 1/16 thick aircraft plywood but all of the rest of the plane was balsa assembled with super glue (hot stuff). One crashed (pilot error), two were given away, and I still have one in the attic. The one I still have flew recently and has held up well. The balsa is still strong and the glue has held up well. My oldest (perhaps 10 years) stick and tissue model of a Stenson Reliant (24 in wingspan) has crashed a few times but was easily repaired and hangs in my den today.


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If you have some experience with balsa and can make it work, I would go with it. I do not use balsa as I have never had any success with it. But go with what works for you. If the experiment fails, then little has been lost and you can try something else. 



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Make sure you stiffen the notches in the bulkheads with super glue as this is also a problem area. I used styrene strips and these worked as I believe your laminated balsa strips will also.


Edited by Jim Rogers


Jim Rogers


Damn the Torpedoes , Full speed ahead.   Adm David Farragut.

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Go for the balsa if it works.  My own experience has proven that holly is fantastic for the tiny frames used in the ship's boats as well as the planking.5aa4f7a77042e_CutterPinnaceandLaunch2.jpg.8fabe214810ba1f56e595763eb343913.jpg  First they are easy to cut to shape with the floor area having a moulded dimension that is more than the higher portion of each frame and when soaked in water for a few minutes, they can be bent quite easily around a carved plug that is the shape of the boat.   Pure white holly is getting harder to come by but the off white wood should be easy enough to find and it does not take much wood to have enough for a fleet of ships' boats frames.



25 foot cutter plug.JPG

Cutter Framing and partial planking1.jpg

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