Its extremely light weight makes balsa ideal for aircraft models and the fact that it can be worked on without the need for heavy tools meant that it was predestined for use in architectural model making as well. Balsa can be cut with a cutter but it should be done carefully because when cutting across the grain the wood tends to tear. Gluing work can be done with Teas all-purpose glue (Technicoll), Uhu hard or Ponal. Balsa slats or rods can be provisionally joined together with pins.
Attributes: Balsa wood comes from the Ochroma pyramidal or Ochroma lagopus tree, which grows in the tropical areas of America. The wood for the market comes mainly from balsa forests or plantations in the low-lying western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes. The tree is ready to be felled after 5 or 6 years; by then it has reached the stately height of 20 metres with a diameter of between 35 and 60 centimetres.
The softwood balsa has the lightest weight of all the timbers. Its gross density runs between 0.05 and 0,41 kg/dm³. The best balsa wood has a whitish colour that sometimes shows a light reddishness and a straight grain structure. It is glossy and has a soft and velvety feel. The texture is medium rough but uniform. When balsa dries out it shrinks very little and holds its stability even if that is fairly low to begin with. Balsa is used industrially for heating and sound insulation. It is, of course, most well known as the classic material for airplane model making.
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