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How do I repair balsa?

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Joshua F Thomas

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Are you just using plain white paper for this, or something else?
 

neil_w

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Plain white copy paper works totally fine with glue. It does conform a bit to the wood grain so it will still benefit from some filler afterwards. Light cardstock will give extra strength and smoother finish but starts adding serious weight.

Avery label paper (or equivalent) works as well, requires a slightly different technique (I can go into great detail on this if you like :)).
 

Joshua F Thomas

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Yes, I'm interested in the label paper. Like adhesive-backed paper?
 

neil_w

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Yes, I'm interested in the label paper. Like adhesive-backed paper?
Yes. I buy the full-sheet labels, e.g.: https://www.amazon.com/Avery-Shippi...538&rnid=2941120011&s=office-products&sr=1-22

I've always gotten 25-sheet packages at Staples or whatnot. There are a stupid number of variations available; I get white, and make sure to avoid the removable kind. They have a kind specifically labeled "permanent adhesive" that is more expensive and I have not tried.

If you choose to experiment with this, I can offer some detailed instructions on how *I* do it. I have label papered a lot of fins :)
 

Joshua F Thomas

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That's a neat solution, if somewhat more expensive than all the glue and paper I have hanging around :D
 

BABAR

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That's a neat solution, if somewhat more expensive than all the glue and paper I have hanging around :D
Label paper works great, is much cleaner and easier than white glue.

It adds little if any strength.

Papering with glue is also great, messier, and more difficult.

It adds a ton of strength to the fin.

You have to work quickly (otherwise the water in the glue turns the paper to mush), squeegee as much glue off the paper as you can before you apply it), and keep a damp paper towel handy to keep wiping glue off your fingers.


If you go with papering, make sure you keep track of the grain direction when cutting your fins, and keep track of which edge is the fin root so you don’t paper over it. Papering (with or without glue) will NOT correct for wrong grain direction.

Don’t ask me how I know this.
 

neil_w

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You have to work quickly (otherwise the water in the glue turns the paper to mush), squeegee as much glue off the paper as you can before you apply it), and keep a damp paper towel handy to keep wiping glue off your fingers.
FWIW: when I’ve used the glue paper method, I’ve applied the glue to the wood, not the paper. Seemed easier to manage that way.

Do most folks apply the glue to the paper?
 

BABAR

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I do the paper.

I cut it to shape. I leave about 1/8” free at the root for the fillet.

Test fit it to the fin (fin should be sanded and shaped as desired. Wrap around only works for straight side polygonal fins.). FIGURE OUT WHICH SIDE OF PAPER IS INSIDE AND WHICH IS OUTSIDE. mark an x on the Inside

Put it on first page a throw away magazine, with the X (inside face) up.

Drop a dollop of WHTE glue in the middle

Use a plastic key card to squeege the glue away from the center so that ALL the paper inside face is coated with a THIN layer.

Peel it off the magazine page and apply to fin.

Rip off the first page of the magazine that is now smeared with the extra glue and toss it.

Start anew with the next page of the magazine.
 
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