papering fins

bjphoenix

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Building new rockets and repairing others, I seem to be doing experiments and having to re-learn old things. I did some fin papering last night and it didn't turn out well. The first mistake is I was using wood glue which makes the paper swell up and wrinkle. Second mistake was trying to do 9 fins at a time. Maybe if I put the paper on one fin and smoothed it out, then clamped the fin between 2 piece of flat wood it would have worked out better. I've papered fins in the past and I think this is what I did but I can't remember. So what type of glue is recommended for papering fins? Is there a better paper to use than normal printer paper.

Somewhat off the subject but earlier this year I had the idea to use tyvek paper to reinforce rockets. It is usually easy for me to get pieces of this from mailings that I receive. I knew it was tough and resisted tearing but I didn't know what the material actually was. I thought it was paper with some form of fiber integrated into it. I did an experiment and found that it did not glue well with wood glue so I researched what tyvek actually was. I found that it is a plastic material and not very heat resistant so that rules it out for most rocket use.
 

bjphoenix

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I did some searching and found a couple of other threads on the subject... but no good information on glues that don't contain water.


 

Scott_650

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Here’s how I do it, this works for me after papering a lot of fins, but it’s not the only way. I do a “sandwich” style - the paper is bread, the balsa fin the meat, with my paper pieces cut close to but very slightly larger than the fin. A thin layer of Elmer’s Glue (I actually prefer School Glue over Glue All but both work for ok me) is spread on the fin using an old plastic card, then the paper is laid down, then using a clean edge of the card I “squeegee” the glue/paper smooth - usually there’s some excess glue along the edges, just wipe it down with a paper towel. Flip and repeat. Then I use a couple of $1 Store cutting boards and a big pile of old books to keep it flat for at least 6-8 hrs. You can get a sticky spot or two when you take off the weights - a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper usually fixes that. I use a single edge razor blade to trim the paper edges then a light sanding for the final finish to the edges followed by dressing the edges with thin CA. You may get some loose edges - just smoosh in a drop of glue and let it dry before you do the CA. I don’t try for a mirror finish - the paper plus primer then paint can still have a bit of texture but it’s not wood grain so I’m good with it. You can round/taper fin edges you just have to be patient sanding so you get a good feathering of the paper at the edge (I rarely round or taper fins but that’s me). It definitely took me some practice to get a result that I liked - getting the glue layer the right thickness is the important step - too thick and the paper wrinkles, to thin and it pulls up.
 

Scott_650

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I did some searching and found a couple of other threads on the subject... but no good information on glues that don't contain water.


Here’s an article in Apogee’s Peak of Flight newsletter about using a homemade press and epoxy as an alternative to traditional filler or papering https://www.apogeerockets.com/education/downloads/Newsletter509.pdf
 

heada

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I've used most methods and the one I like best is using 20# printer paper and 3M Super90.

Spray the paper, spray 1 side of thr fin, place fin on paper, spray fin, spray paper and apply paper to second side of the fin. Repeat for all fins and stack them all between flat objects with weight on top. 12 hours later, fully cured papered fins with no wrinkles, no lifting corners, no extra weight (besides the paper)
 

Woody's Workshop

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Onion Skin, Watermark Paper, if you're old enough you'll remember it as Air Mail Paper.
That's the best paper I found for papering fins. Very tight fibers and doesn't separate.
I have always used Titebond III.
And leaving enough paper to the root edge to have mounting tabs on both sides of the fins add lots of strength.
I use a single piece of paper, folding it over the leading edge, and folding it over all other edges making it double thickness (except the root edge).
I'm not sure if Onion Skin is even available any more. I found a stash of most of a ream in my father's stuff when he passed.
Most likely from the 50's. I'm surprised that it doesn't crumble to the touch.
I guess it was good paper back then since it doesn't crumble some 60+ years later!
 

mjennings

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Dr Zooch used Tyxek for the body flap hinge on his space shuttle kit. So there are applications.

For fin papering lots of good stuff above. In any form of composite layup adhesive control is key. To much and it's a mess and you don't add strength. several fins can be done at once but you need to have everything prepared and ready to go before the glue comes out.
 

lakeroadster

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Here's a link to my My 1st Time Papering Fins

Somewhat off the subject but earlier this year I had the idea to use tyvek paper to reinforce rockets. It is usually easy for me to get pieces of this from mailings that I receive. I knew it was tough and resisted tearing but I didn't know what the material actually was. I thought it was paper with some form of fiber integrated into it. I did an experiment and found that it did not glue well with wood glue so I researched what tyvek actually was. I found that it is a plastic material and not very heat resistant so that rules it out for most rocket use.

Perspective: I'll bet Tyvek is every bit as "heat resistant" as balsa or paper is... :computer:
 
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Seems there's several techniques already listed here. I personally prefer label paper then seal the edges with thin CA. The important step is to use adhesive to pull the dust off the balsa. Occasionally, the label will pull off the balsa so I use a bit of thin CA to tack it down again.

I've also experimented with styrene and TBII. It worked really well on my cloned 4-fin Citation Patriot. My cockatiels recently attacked my Big Daddy and had to use CWF to repair the damage. They also tried to eat the styrene covered fins with only minor damage. Would anyone like free birds? (the parrots, not the song)

 

icyclops

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Simple, use Spraymount super 77 spray adhesive. Spray one side of bond stock or card stock paper and lay fins on….then trim. Repeat for the other side. Done. Takes paint beautifully and paper sticks real good….no more messing with fins and messy white or wood glue or epoxies that can pool, warp, or just make a big fat mess.
 

John Kemker

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Onion Skin, Watermark Paper, if you're old enough you'll remember it as Air Mail Paper.
That's the best paper I found for papering fins. Very tight fibers and doesn't separate.
I have always used Titebond III.
And leaving enough paper to the root edge to have mounting tabs on both sides of the fins add lots of strength.
I use a single piece of paper, folding it over the leading edge, and folding it over all other edges making it double thickness (except the root edge).
I'm not sure if Onion Skin is even available any more. I found a stash of most of a ream in my father's stuff when he passed.
Most likely from the 50's. I'm surprised that it doesn't crumble to the touch.
I guess it was good paper back then since it doesn't crumble some 60+ years later!
Just look up "onion skin paper" on Amazon. Several sources, there.
 

Back_at_it

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Building new rockets and repairing others, I seem to be doing experiments and having to re-learn old things. I did some fin papering last night and it didn't turn out well. The first mistake is I was using wood glue which makes the paper swell up and wrinkle. Second mistake was trying to do 9 fins at a time. Maybe if I put the paper on one fin and smoothed it out, then clamped the fin between 2 piece of flat wood it would have worked out better. I've papered fins in the past and I think this is what I did but I can't remember. So what type of glue is recommended for papering fins? Is there a better paper to use than normal printer paper.

Somewhat off the subject but earlier this year I had the idea to use tyvek paper to reinforce rockets. It is usually easy for me to get pieces of this from mailings that I receive. I knew it was tough and resisted tearing but I didn't know what the material actually was. I thought it was paper with some form of fiber integrated into it. I did an experiment and found that it did not glue well with wood glue so I researched what tyvek actually was. I found that it is a plastic material and not very heat resistant so that rules it out for most rocket use.


I find that papering fins is more about the paper used than the glue. While I'm not really a fan of papering, I have done it to add strength to few rockets where fin flutter might be a concern with larger motors. When papering I like to use a heavy paper. I find that the instructions that come with Estes Kits seem to be just about perfect. Notebook paper is too thin and tends to wrinkly and look bad.

As for glue used. I've had great luck with TBII and TB Thick and Quick. Just put on a small amount and rub it into the wood. Let it sit for a minute then apply the paper and rub out the bubbles. Flip and do the other side.

Once both sides are done. Sandwich the fin on something perfectly flat with a decent amount of weight on top.
 

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Alan15578

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I find that papering fins is more about the paper used than the glue. While I'm not really a fan of papering, I have done it to add strength to few rockets where fin flutter might be a concern with larger motors. When papering I like to use a heavy paper. I find that the instructions that come with Estes Kits seem to be just about perfect. Notebook paper is too thin and tends to wrinkly and look bad.

As for glue used. I've had great luck with TBII and TB Thick and Quick. Just put on a small amount and rub it into the wood. Let it sit for a minute then apply the paper and rub out the bubbles. Flip and do the other side.

Once both sides are done. Sandwich the fin on something perfectly flat with a decent amount of weight on top.
I get the best results using the thinnest paper, adhered with a thinned brushed on adhesive. Many colors and even printed patterns are available, wrinkling is not a problem and I even apply it around edges. It really looks great. I typically use this technique on glider wings, but it also works great on balsa fins on F powered rockets.
 

Dotini

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I get the best results using the thinnest paper, adhered with a thinned brushed on adhesive. Many colors and even printed patterns are available, wrinkling is not a problem and I even apply it around edges. It really looks great. I typically use this technique on glider wings, but it also works great on balsa fins on F powered rockets.

After a bit of practice, I have had decent results with a few methods, papers and adhesives, but building only a few balsa fin rocket models with skinned fins so far. But now I need skins again.
I've used 20 lb bond and 24 lb linen with 25% cotton (left 3D grid pattern skin).
I've used Elmer's white glue (brushed or squeegeed on) and 3M Super 77 (both messy until achieving a procedure).

My questions:
I have a roll of tracing paper. Is this too thin?
Which adhesives would do you recommend?
Should I avoid using any wood filler on the balsa?

Thanks,
 

Dane Ronnow

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I use Avery 5265 full-sheet label paper. I believe it's 50 lb. paper, so there's a lot of stiffening for thin balsa. I cut the paper to wrap the fin around the leading edge, with a 1/8" overhang that I trim after application.

Unlike wood glue and paper, there is no repositioning after the paper is on the balsa, so line it up carefully before pressing it into place. Burnish with the edge of a credit card or burnishing tool.

07.jpg 08.jpg
 

Scott_650

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After a bit of practice, I have had decent results with a few methods, papers and adhesives, but building only a few balsa fin rocket models with skinned fins so far. But now I need skins again.
I've used 20 lb bond and 24 lb linen with 25% cotton (left 3D grid pattern skin).
I've used Elmer's white glue (brushed or squeegeed on) and 3M Super 77 (both messy until achieving a procedure).

My questions:
I have a roll of tracing paper. Is this too thin?
Which adhesives would do you recommend?
Should I avoid using any wood filler on the balsa?

Thanks,
No reason to use filler first unless you’re filling in a deep groove, dent or hole. Most tracing paper I’ve used has a “waxy” finish that may not absorb adhesive properly - experiment on a piece of scrap balsa. The thinness could mean less weight - papering does add a measurable amount of weight (which I don’t care about since the higher a rocket goes the further I might have to walk 😉) but even thin paper will add some strength. I’ve tried spray adhesive, glue sticks, Titebond II and both Elmer’s Glue-All and School Glue. For me School Glue works best. It can be messy, it can wrinkle but the low oder and toxicity plus the ability to move the paper around a bit outweighs the downsides. My opinion is the higher water content allows the glue to soak in better. But that’s what works for me after doing many, many sets of fins. And even now I occasionally have issues and need to sand the paper off and start over. Try different stuff in different combos until you find your preference. One last thing, if you’re shooting for a glass smooth finish papering isn’t for you - look for more traditional sanding sealer like Aerogloss or use epoxy - papered fins have a definite texture - smooth but only as smooth as the paper you use. Again, not a factor for me if it looks good from a few feet away.
 

techntools

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I find that papering fins is more about the paper used than the glue. While I'm not really a fan of papering, I have done it to add strength to few rockets where fin flutter might be a concern with larger motors. When papering I like to use a heavy paper. I find that the instructions that come with Estes Kits seem to be just about perfect. Notebook paper is too thin and tends to wrinkly and look bad.

As for glue used. I've had great luck with TBII and TB Thick and Quick. Just put on a small amount and rub it into the wood. Let it sit for a minute then apply the paper and rub out the bubbles. Flip and do the other side.

Once both sides are done. Sandwich the fin on something perfectly flat with a decent amount of weight on top.
Think it would look cool to just leave the instructions showing with a clear coat!
 
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