I just took a second look at my first attempt at turning my own balsa parts [BB3 nose cone via 12 volt cordless drill], and made a horrifying discovery; its not straight. The tip is over 1/4" off-center. Don't know if I screwed up sanding down the shoulder or what, but somewhere along the way, it became very unbalanced.
As a result, my Black Brant 3 may have just become a Black Brant VB, though hardly to scale. Think anyone will notice?
After I finished the nose cone a couple of months ago, I swore to myself I'd never do it again [not with the cordless drill anyway]. Next time, I'll definitely be calling up one of the balsa machinists on this forum...
OK, don't take this the wrong way, I'm not trying to cut down on my work...I have plenty. I just want to help.
BALSA TURNING TIPS!
#1 use a small slice of body tube placed on the drill first to size your part (nose cone or transition). Let it just spin free 'til you're ready for it.
NOTE* be careful with quantum tubing...that stuff is a knuckle buster if it hits you!
#2 Everybody knows about glueing a wood dowel into the end to chuck into the drill but, super glue a short (1/4" long) scrap of dowel to the free end , let it run and find the center with a pencil with it running and use something (a pin or a nail) driven through a support piece to hold the "free end" of the turning. Take it off when you finish up to make the tip.
#3 Use an emeryboard and make sanding blocks by gluing sandpaper to pieces of wood.
#4 Use your ears and your eyes...a gentle touch to keep the piece "round". You will hear it if the part gets out of round!
#5 Never, NEVER wrap the sandpaper around the part to sand. Balsa wood has a very inconsistant density. Draping the paper over the turning part and baring down will almost guarantee the part will go "out of round"!
This is because balsa almost always has a hard side and a soft side to it. The soft side will sand faster.
#6 Practice...learn to read the wood and react to it...this is hard to explain...understanding wood takes practice.
#7 use an extra light source to "back light" the turning. You will be able to see when the part is round or ovaled.