Papering fins, adhesive label paper vs glued on paper

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neil_w

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Good luck with wood glue fillets. I never could get mine to level and shrink evenly. Even TB Quick & Thick shrinks on me.
Quick and Thick shrinks nearly as much as TBII. What is different is that (a) it stays put, and (b) generally doesn’t bubble. This makes it possible to lay it on thicker than TBII, and it’ll dry into a nice shape, and you can do the the whole fin can in at once.

However, if you’re after giant epoxy-like fillets, it’s not a magical solution.
 

icyclops

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I did up a practice fin, using 65lb cardstock and 30-minute expoxy. Despite my best efforts, too much epoxy got applied to the fin/cardstock and some of the epoxy squeezed out the edges and hardened. Naturally some got on my gloves and transferred to the outside, though I was able to remove most of it with 800-grit sandpaper. Next time I'll custom fit each cardstock piece and not leave any protruding past the balsa - its a real pain to sand flush.

I'm glad I did a practice fin; I'd be annoyed to mess up an original fin. But the resulting fin is STRONG to say the least.

Lessons learned:
Apply less epoxy; I need to come up with a different squeegie (smaller).
Trim closer to the edge of the cardstock to eliminate extra material.
Consider epoxying one side at a time (glue one side, wait an hour and do the other side).


Any other tips for me?
Yes, use spray mount 77 adhesive and card stock paper and you will get the strength you need....
 

jrap330

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I already discovered that I have to apply the yellow glue to the balsa, not the paper, lest it start to wrinkle/get soggy immediately. :( And once pressed on to the balsa, that paper isn't going anywhere - even using a roller to smooth it out is dicey. Probably due to the learning curve, as expected.

How long should I let the fin dry before removing from under the stack of books. I was thinking a day or two.
My white glue
Babar- Do you like the Aleenes Tacky Glue???
 

rklapp

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Quick and Thick shrinks nearly as much as TBII. What is different is that (a) it stays put, and (b) generally doesn’t bubble. This makes it possible to lay it on thicker than TBII, and it’ll dry into a nice shape, and you can do the the whole fin can in at once.

However, if you’re after giant epoxy-like fillets, it’s not a magical solution.
I’ve been using QAT more because it’s less messy than epoxy. I also find that it doesn’t bubble or run like TBII.
 

shawn_rocket

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I decided to weigh my practice fin to see what the weight increase was.
Bare fin (moderate density balsa?): .14oz
Bare fin+cardstock: .27oz
Epoxied fin: .43 oz
Big difference.

I decided to try a practice fin with printer paper and yellow glue (all I have on hand).
Bare fin: .14oz
Bare fin+paper .19oz
Finished fin: to be determined.



I was looking for a combination of less puttying/surface finishing, but also wanted to strengthen up the fin. As this is a new technique to me, I'm going to try using yellow glue + printer paper, despite my misgivings. At worst, I expend some balsa and time, at best it works better than I thought. :)
You could also try a finishing epoxy a just lightly brush the fins and edges. I haven't done it on balsa, just plywood; I would imagine even with a finish epoxy it will definitely add weight as the balsa soaks up the thin epoxy. But you will have some heavy duty fins!
 

modeltrains

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One advantage of using white glue is that you can iron out any warps. I apply white glue to the balsa, squeegee off as much as I can (it'll seem like there almost isn't any left), and then apply paper.
Then, I either:
1) Let it dry under a stack of books and weights. Then iron out any warps, bubbles, or wrinkles. The heat re-activates the PVA and you can get a fin totally flat this way.
2) Or go straight to iron while the glue is still wet. It will dry much faster, and you can get it flat, quickly.
There's a thing I'd have never guessed!
🤔
 

BABAR

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Babar- Do you like the Aleenes Tacky Glue???
I tried it because others on this forum recommended it. It is at LEAST as good as Elmer's white glue for general use. I don't know if it is BETTER. I am running low on it and I may try a side by side with Elmer's for papering. I am more a model rocket eccentric engineer rather than a renaissance man like @neil_w who is artist and engineer and sculptor (I build rockets that intentionally [sometimes Unintentionally!] Look or fly or recover weird, sort of @Daddyisabar with less flamboyance and craftsmanship.)
Last thing I want to do is start a glue thread. But yes, it works fine for me.
 

Daddyisabar

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Years ago my wife was watching a craft show and on came an old woman with that distinctive gruff smokers voice and she said "HI. I'm Aleene." As I remember that was all they would let her say during the show. I love the stuff. There are other Tacky Glues but I always have a bottle of Aleene's around. Sometimes when using it on an SR71 paper shroud I say in a gruff old lady voice "Hi, I m Aleene...cough cough." It appeases any blithe spirit that may be lurking to mess up the build.
 

Woody's Workshop

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If you paper fins and leave tabs on the paper to mount on the body tube (as I always do), I would suggest using as thin as you can get CA glue to go over the tabs and bit on the fins. I always make my fillets out of several layers of TiteBond and sand smooth and contour to fit the application.
My experience with this method is that even gluing under and over the tabs with TiteBond (That's all I use) is that the paper somehow separates. I posted these results here somewhere, but I'll be darned if I can find the post or the pics. And I didn't use anything out of the ordinary for paper. Just standard copy paper from Staples.
When I paper fins, I fold the paper over the leading edge (after sanding to an even on both sides knife edge) and leave enough paper to wrap both sides of the fin paper on the edges. This gives the trailing edge and outside edges double layers of paper. I will say that I have found that thinning the TiteBond 50% with water and stir it up good, seams to soak through the paper well. But it's been about a year since I did that and rockets have been in a box waiting for me to be able to afford spray paint. And none of those have had a separation problem as the others have in storage without thinning the TiteBond.
I then give the fins about 3 coats of TiteBond (the first now with 50% reduced TiteBond) and sand smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. One coat of primer and wet sand with 400 and they are ready for paint.
As for the point at the hardest hitting upon landing point of the fins, it's about 1/8" of TiteBond that will take the abuse.
That is easy to repair and touch up with paint.
I've never used self adhesive paper so I can not comment on that. It just doesn't seam like the proper application for self adhesive paper for papering fins. But that's just my personal opinion. That stuff never cures and if does it seams like the adhesion would vanish to me. But I'm no expert on that matter.
I hope that you find some use in my experience.
 

mcderek

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Papering fins? Here's another option that works great. Apply with a enough water to moisten the glue. Let dry then seal with thin CA or dope. Not required but its works well. Paint as normal.
81pURMYdyCL._AC_SL1500_.jpg
 

jrap330

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I tried it because others on this forum recommended it. It is at LEAST as good as Elmer's white glue for general use. I don't know if it is BETTER. I am running low on it and I may try a side by side with Elmer's for papering. I am more a model rocket eccentric engineer rather than a renaissance man like @neil_w who is artist and engineer and sculptor (I build rockets that intentionally [sometimes Unintentionally!] Look or fly or recover weird, sort of @Daddyisabar with less flamboyance and craftsmanship.)
Last thing I want to do is start a glue thread. But yes, it works fine for me.
So can I assume it is as tacky as white glue and therefore the name is a misnomer?? Too tacky, is no good, since you have little time to re-align your placement.
 

SCooke123

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To kinda sideways get off-topic: Aleene's was bought out by Aurora Model Company and they put out a series of craft type models using their Wildlife models and foil. You used the glue to put foil on the models and recreate them as statues. I don't think they sold well.
A while later Aleene bought her company back again and has been in business ever since.

I've never used the stuff myself so can't atest to how it compares the Elmers. ......... and back to our regularly scheduled thread! :D
 

BABAR

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So can I assume it is as tacky as white glue and therefore the name is a misnomer?? Too tacky, is no good, since you have little time to re-align your placement.
I’m kind of thinking the term “tacky glue” is redundant. Who would buy a “non-tacky” glue?
 

ep29030

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When I want to strengthen balsa fins, I use wood glue and either 24lb typing paper or 110# card stock. Do both sides of a fin at once, or it will warp. I cover paper with either wax paper or parchment paper to prevent sticking, then clamp between two pieces of plywood to put some pressure on until the glue sets. Trim the excess with a hobby knife, then saturate the paper and fin edges with thin CA and start sanding to shape the fins. Once shaped, reapply CA to the edges to harden them. Makes some stiff fins, esp. if card stock is used. One more trick: after adding wax/parchment paper, add a layer of thin, dense foam before sandwiching in plywood. The foam makes the paper lay down better on the fin edges-esp. if you rounded any edges before papering. I use 1/4" dense foam and it works well on model rocket fins. This setup also works for adding a layer or fiberglass or carbon fiber to plywood fins as well. You can even get away with carbon-skinned balsa fins for some light, stiff fins on some high power kits with this technique.
 

BABAR

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Okay, some amateur objective testing.

I cut 6 balsa strips from the same sheet of 36” x 6” x 1/16” balsa (actually all from one 12” end)

Strips each 1” x 12”
6CE621A8-EF38-4099-AC8D-F23B45A01CF2.jpeg
66030F58-FE3A-4099-9992-25BD35FAEDDA.jpeg

I alternated selection for raw, adhesive, and balsa

I sanded them to get the all even

EFBB7797-E74F-4F92-96CB-61B3DB2E6994.jpeg

I used label paper to paper both sides of two strips.

I used Aleene’s Tacky glue to paper both sides of two strips.

I put the glued strips in waxed paper in a book to dry. I had planned for overnite, but “life”/work happened, so it was 9 days before I got them out. To be consistent, I put the raw pieces and the adhesive label papered piece is the same book.

I didn’t weigh the strips before papering with adhesive or glue, but they are all the same size.

The raw strips averaged 2.0 grams each (we will call this 100%)
The Adhesive Paper strips averaged 3.7 grams each (185%, but remember we are starting with 1/16” balsa)
The Glued Paper strips averaged 5.0 grams each (250%)

Put another way, since each strip was covered on both sides, and was 1”x12”, additional weight from

Adhesive Paper 0.14 grams/square inch (both sides, sorry for mixing metric and English)
Glued Paper 0.25 grams/square inch.

Put one inch of end between magazines and used a 500 gram weight on top, moving it one inch at a time
04313C06-2B9C-433C-9DD8-6C11AEC19254.jpeg
97965059-45A7-4874-96C6-CBDC5B62B003.jpeg
9B4BA4A7-A200-4E5F-B60C-2EEFD107DF49.jpeg
B856D84B-8E5D-4F30-BF83-7C8EAA9326F1.jpeg
62E27094-F4A6-49A2-950B-8AA9F2624B36.jpeg
DC449F12-E170-4C36-AF04-55AFA88B9F86.jpeg
8269DD44-0F26-44CC-8D5F-49580E03F0A5.jpeg


For the raw, one broke at 4, other at 3. Both snapped quickly
For the Adhesive, both bent quickly at 3
For the Glue, both handled 3 fine, but bent slowly at 4.

I know, not a big sample size, and weird that the adhesive did less well than raw (I probably needed to use bigger pieces.)

Maybe I should try this with 1/8” balsa and larger pieces?

Anyway, can’t draw any statistically significant conclusions, but adhesive paper didn’t obviously provide any extra strength.

Oh yeah, testing was WITH the long axis of the grain. IMO, no type of typing or adhesive papering provides significant strength across the short axis.

Any suggestions on how I could test this better?

I will confirm @neil_w ‘s note, when looked at carefully, I could just barely see the grain contour distortions on the surface of the glued paper (pretty minimal, but there). I couldn’t see any grain distortion with label paper.

So label paper is definitely easier to do and slightly better cosmetically than glue.
 

cbwho

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I really like the finish and strength of papered fins.

On a recent build I had a problem with a very large multi piece fin. The balsa soaked up the glue unevenly and dried in places before I got it stuck on.

But I apply glue to the wood rather than the paper. I’ll try adding to the paper instead next time.Also I will try the iron technique next time I get bubbles and to reactivate the glue. (Brilliant!)

What paper weight do people recommend? I have 20lb and it wrinkles easier than 24lb I noticed.
 

BABAR

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I really like the finish and strength of papered fins.

On a recent build I had a problem with a very large multi piece fin. The balsa soaked up the glue unevenly and dried in places before I got it stuck on.

But I apply glue to the wood rather than the paper. I’ll try adding to the paper instead next time.Also I will try the iron technique next time I get bubbles and to reactivate the glue. (Brilliant!)

What paper weight do people recommend? I have 20lb and it wrinkles easier than 24lb I noticed.
Not an answer to your question directly.
when papering fins with GLUE, you have to work quickly. Dry fitting your pieces to make sure you get it right the first time help, particularly if you are going the wrap around route, which as @neil_w has pointed out, only works with straight edged fins. Once the moisture in the glue saturates the paper, the paper gets “slimy” and tears easily until it dries.

I use standard printer paper which I believe is 20lb.
 

icyclops

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I decided to weigh my practice fin to see what the weight increase was.
Bare fin (moderate density balsa?): .14oz
Bare fin+cardstock: .27oz
Epoxied fin: .43 oz
Big difference.

I decided to try a practice fin with printer paper and yellow glue (all I have on hand).
Bare fin: .14oz
Bare fin+paper .19oz
Finished fin: to be determined.



I was looking for a combination of less puttying/surface finishing, but also wanted to strengthen up the fin. As this is a new technique to me, I'm going to try using yellow glue + printer paper, despite my misgivings. At worst, I expend some balsa and time, at best it works better than I thought. :)
Guess you didn’t try my technique.....card stock and 3M spraymount 77. Using white glue to laminate balsa can warp a little....i have had this happen as the moisture bends the single side. If you can laminate both sides at the same time may be ok....needs air to dry though which is rough pressing both sides down at once.
 

BABAR

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Guess you didn’t try my technique.....card stock and 3M spraymount 77. Using white glue to laminate balsa can warp a little....i have had this happen as the moisture bends the single side. If you can laminate both sides at the same time may be ok....needs air to dry though which is rough pressing both sides down at once.
If just papering for looks (I hate filling balsa), adhesive label paper works great.

If I am going for strength as well as For looks/finishing, I use white glue. After gluing I put them in wax paper and I stick them in a big thick book with additional books on top. You need an old book that you don’t care about anymore and the book paper Has to be regular paper, like paperback novels or old library books, not glossy paper like magazines and newer textbooks. I’ve found that with this generally the glue dries overnight. No warping.
 

heada

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I have never done this..... I would never recommend some try this with a good microwave....

Yellow glue like TB II can be RF cured. In factories, they'll glue up a door panel, insert it into a giant microwave and zap it for a few seconds to cure the glue. Has anyone tried to RF cure yellow glue on papered fins? It should cure fast enough to not warp the fins.

Its 5am and I haven't slept well in days.... you can't blame me for crazy ideas.
 

Bill S

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I "papered" the fins on my Executioner, using heavier card stock (65 lbs?), rather than printer paper. My test tries using printer paper were not great, with wrinkles, and the paper conformed too well to the balsa, with high and low spots, etc. Required puttying up anyways, and while it needed less puttying/sanding, it was still a fair bit.

The heavier card stock seems to have worked better, though it was a bit tricky at the front rounded edge, not as crisp of an edge as I'd like to see.

Used white glue, with wax paper on top and bottom, for a day, so far so good. No warping.
 

cbwho

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I found that 24lb paper works best.

I sand the fin to shape the fin when there is no glue on it. So super fast.

I put the white glue on the paper* and zero on the balsa. I extend it over the edges and squeeze the edges together and fold them over then trim with scissors. Then I press the edges with a wet finger.

*After I read that to put the glue on the paper and not on the wood, the clouds parted and the glory of heaven shown forth. It's truly magical! Doing this way the amount of glue isn't so sensitive. And the 24lb paper doesn't wrinkle.

IMG_20210302_233123.jpg


I fold the paper over the leading edge. This paper is gray Hammermill. I like to use colored paper (Astrobrights) so painting is not involved. (Only the final clear coat.) The above picture is before the glue, I test the size and give a hint of the fold for the leading edge. After the glue is applied, work quickly.

IMG_20210302_233318.jpg


I then sandwich the fin and use my finger to push it on. And start to crease the edge.


IMG_20210302_233355.jpg


Then I use the fin to crease the edges tight. Then I trim with scissors.

IMG_20210302_233637.jpg


Here is the finished fin. Notice the trailing edge is sealed in and the paper joins well.

To attach to the tube, I sand the root edge to reveal wood but nothing else at this stage.

If you use spray clear, it may be shocking to see the color change as it looks wet, but let the rocket dry for a couple of days and the color returns.

Apply water decals after clear coat and then clear again. Stickers can be applied before clear coating.

Here is one that has color papered fins.

received_1021048514965549.jpeg

I colored the canopy with metallic markers before glueing it.
 
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mbeels

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Yellow glue like TB II can be RF cured. In factories, they'll glue up a door panel, insert it into a giant microwave and zap it for a few seconds to cure the glue. Has anyone tried to RF cure yellow glue on papered fins? It should cure fast enough to not warp the fins.
Not RF, but I use an iron (monokote sealing iron) on white glue. It smooths the paper, takes out wrinkles, and flattens out the fin. You can iron out any warps. The PVA glue is heat activated (as a plastic), so even the fin dries with a warp, you can iron it flat again.
 

DeWain

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I haven't had much success with label paper. Bubbles appear... and then they are so hard to get rid of.

I've had a lot of success with papering with white glue. The secret is to smear the glue to a thin layer, immediately apply to the fin, and then immediately flatten it with a stack of books over wax paper. I usually cut out more than enough paper covers in the event that one gets trashed in the application of glue. Heavier paper/ card stock works better.
 

mbeels

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The secret is to smear the glue to a thin layer, immediately apply to the fin, and then immediately flatten it with a stack of books over wax paper.
Yeah, very thin, like you're trying to scrape it all off again.
 

heada

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Not RF, but I use an iron (monokote sealing iron) on white glue. It smooths the paper, takes out wrinkles, and flattens out the fin. You can iron out any warps. The PVA glue is heat activated (as a plastic), so even the fin dries with a warp, you can iron it flat again.
Reading more about RF curing, it is really just RF heating to use heat cure.....so pretty much the same thing as your iron, just different heat source and scale.
 

cbwho

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Yeah, very thin, like you're trying to scrape it all off again.
I found the very thin requirement to be not needed if one uses 24lb paper and puts the glue on the paper and not on the wood. Much more fault tolerance.
 

Michael L

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Has anyone here tried using a vacuum bag and sealer to hold the paper on while the adhesive sets up?

 
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