Unconventional Sources for Wood

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GrossApproximator

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Hello all. My LHS closed not too long ago, and now that I've become interested in rocketry again, I need to find a source of wood for building my models. I loved working with Sig plywood and balsa, but I don't want to end up paying $10 in shipping and handling just to buy $10 of wood (I usually don't buy in bulk). I like mid-power rockets, so I would like to get high-quality 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch birch plywood. What kinds of stores might have this material? I live near Ann Arbor, MI if anyone can suggest a specific store. If not, oh well--I might just have to bite the bullet and build fewer rockets :fly:
 

jpummil

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"....and build fewer rockets"?!?!? NOT..an option!!! :wink:

Swing by your local Hobby Lobby...they have some decent plywood in stock.
 

jpummil

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Someone contemplating "building fewer rockets" is a crisis in TRF terms :D
 

GrossApproximator

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Thanks all. By the way, I have a question about plywood in general; since plywood has layers with alternating grain directions, and 3-ply plywood has 3 layers, should I cut my fins with the leading edge parallel to the grain of the outside layer? When I could get Sig "Premium Plywood" from my LHS (at least I think it was Sig) I always got the 1/8 inch 6-ply plywood, so I don't think it mattered too much which way my fins were cut (if the cut direction does matter, don't worry, since none of my old rockets ever flew--probably a good thing). In general, I'm wary of 3-ply wood since I'm so used to working with 6-ply wood, and I also fear that wood from major craft stores is not as high-quality as wood from a manufacturer like Sig.
 
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JPVegh

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Thanks all. By the way, I have a question about plywood in general; since plywood has layers with alternating grain directions, and 3-ply plywood has 3 layers, should I cut my fins with the leading edge parallel to the grain of the outside layer? When I could get Sig "Premium Plywood" from my LHS (at least I think it was Sig) I always got the 1/8 inch 6-ply plywood, so I don't think it mattered too much which way my fins were cut (if the cut direction does matter, don't worry, since none of my old rockets ever flew--probably a good thing). In general, I'm wary of 3-ply wood since I'm so used to working with 6-ply wood, and I also fear that wood from major craft stores is not as high-quality as wood from a manufacturer like Sig.
If I recall correctly the wood that Michaels sells is either Sig or Midwest, both are good options for fin material or centering rings.

My local homestore sells birch ply down to 1/4 inch thickness, I've never taken a close look at it but they do sell smaller pieces at reasonable prices. It might be worth taking a look at.

I know that you don't want to mail order but take a look at Hobbylinc. Their prices might offset the cost of shipping and they carry a full line of other rocket items, kits, motors, components, etc. that you may want to add to an order.
 

RGInCanada

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Consider googling for a local specialty lumber store.

I purchase all the plywood (and basswood and poplar) for my laser from A&M Wood Specialty
 

GrossApproximator

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If I recall correctly the wood that Michaels sells is either Sig or Midwest, both are good options for fin material or centering rings.

My local homestore sells birch ply down to 1/4 inch thickness, I've never taken a close look at it but they do sell smaller pieces at reasonable prices. It might be worth taking a look at.

I know that you don't want to mail order but take a look at Hobbylinc. Their prices might offset the cost of shipping and they carry a full line of other rocket items, kits, motors, components, etc. that you may want to add to an order.

I just looked at hobbylinc. I agree; good prices on a variety of items. I will have to consider bundling at this website in the future. Website is now under my favorites.
 
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kjohnson

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If I recall correctly the wood that Michaels sells is either Sig or Midwest, both are good options for fin material or centering rings.
Michael's stocks Midwest.

Unless you are really lucky.

kj
 

bradycros

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Consider bundling at this website in the future.

www.balsamachining.com

Look under the title 'Kits & Bldg. Supplies' on the home page. $6 flat shipping charge reguardless of orders size, so buy everything at once.
 

Pat_B

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You bring up an interestingly point about the grain direction on 3-ply wood. Theoretically you should probably have the two ply direction parallel to the leading edge. However, most light plywood is pretty darn stiff and unlikely to break anyway so it might not matter too much.
 

Slickwilly

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Micheal's, that's were I get mine. With a 40% off coupon it's a great price.
 

dlazarus6660

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Some hardware stores, some Home Depots and craft stores like AC Moore and Joanns carry balsa and bass wood.
 

fyrwrxz

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You get three guesses:

1) High velocity Ping Pong tournement
2) OCD termites
3) Drill press test

These are a buck a piece at the dollar stores. I wanted to check my fly cutter adjustments without burning a good piece of wood. Turns out to be perfect for LPR! You just have to peel off all the rubber sheeting and trim. Ea hole is about 1.75" for scale.

DSCI0057.JPG
 

dixontj93060

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Hobby Lobby with 40% off coupon is hard to beat, but they only have the standard birch stuff. If you need balsa ply or thick stuff you need to find a Hobbytown. I plan ahead and pick up material on business trips (I live in a rural area). This past week on the East coast stopped by a Hobbytown and got some balsa ply for my Thunderstruck Mach Madness entry. Just stuffed it in my computer bag--goes through airport security just fine. :)
 
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Ford Prefect

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I have found a bunch at my local Ace Hardware along with Eyebolts, washers etc... I also shop at Woodcraft Supply sometimes.

Cj
 

stealth6

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A few folks here noted some online sources (with great prices!).

However, even more important to me is flatness/stability. I've bought thin ply from Hobby Lobby, the occasional hardware store, and my "local" LHS. Every time I have to really pick through the piles to find a piece or two that's flat. 90% of the stock is always warped somewhat. Oftentimes there is nothing in the pile that's good.

So, what is y'all's experience with those online sources? Do you sometimes/often/always/never get warped and curved pieces delivered?

And if you DO usually/always get great flat stock, what's your local climate? I live in a VERY dry area, and I'm sure that most of the stock that's shipped to the local sources is flat when they get it, but it warps on their shelves due to humidity changes.

What I'm hoping to find is someone who also lives in a very dry climate, and who has a source for thin ply that they can pretty much always count on for shipping FLAT stock (that stays that way). Since I can't pick the best ones off the pile when shopping online, I need to know that what they ship me will be useful.

thnx, s6
 

gpoehlein

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I should point out that Micheal's WAS carrying Midwest, but I gather that many are switching over to Revell balsa. It seems to be lighter and softer than the Midwest stuff. Hobby Lobby is, I believe from Midwest. Another possibility is if you hava a Blick's Art Supply - they carry sheet balsa as well as a lot of other products that work well for rocketry (Magnum markers in black, red and blue for coloring glider wings and rotor blades, silverized mylar tape for trim, parachutes and other purposes, rolls of tracing paper for streamers, drafting supplies, resin casting supplies and a lot more).

Another possibility for working with 3ply - you might try covering both sides with cardstock (110# - you can get it at Walmart). That will make it even stronger and should take away any worries about grain. Also, for LPR, I find that cardboard/cardstock fins are a great substitute for balsa fins - they can even be pre-printed on the computer with color, patterns, graphics and lettering if you like.
 

bradycros

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A few folks here noted some online sources (with great prices!).

However, even more important to me is flatness/stability. I've bought thin ply from Hobby Lobby, the occasional hardware store, and my "local" LHS. Every time I have to really pick through the piles to find a piece or two that's flat. 90% of the stock is always warped somewhat. Oftentimes there is nothing in the pile that's good.

So, what is y'all's experience with those online sources? Do you sometimes/often/always/never get warped and curved pieces delivered?

And if you DO usually/always get great flat stock, what's your local climate? I live in a VERY dry area, and I'm sure that most of the stock that's shipped to the local sources is flat when they get it, but it warps on their shelves due to humidity changes.

What I'm hoping to find is someone who also lives in a very dry climate, and who has a source for thin ply that they can pretty much always count on for shipping FLAT stock (that stays that way). Since I can't pick the best ones off the pile when shopping online, I need to know that what they ship me will be useful.

thnx, s6

Flatten it out again yourself. Get the wood wet and press it between two flat surfaces (I use scrap window glass) until it's dried out.
 

dlazarus6660

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You get three guesses:

1) High velocity Ping Pong tournement
2) OCD termites
3) Drill press test

These are a buck a piece at the dollar stores. I wanted to check my fly cutter adjustments without burning a good piece of wood. Turns out to be perfect for LPR! You just have to peel off all the rubber sheeting and trim. Ea hole is about 1.75" for scale.
My guess?

Forrest Gump having a bad day!:rolleyes:
 

fyrwrxz

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Sometimes a ping-pong paddle is like a bad box of chocolates-you never know what kinda wood you'll find in the middle!

(and hey- it WAS titled 'unconventional' sources of wood!)
 

dave carver

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I've been using Luan plywood for High Power rockets from the time I started building them. It's also known as door skins. It's Phillippine Mahogany. It is very pourous and what I do is fill it with the light weight spackleing, sand and then use thinned epoxy and let it soak into the wood. I have found it in 4mm and 5mm thickness and a full 4' x 8' sheet is under $10. You can cut an awful lot of fins from a sheet. If it needs to be thicker I epoxy two fins together, especially if it's the 4mm thickness.

My conformation rocket in '93 had Luan 4mm fins. I broke a tip off after a free fall from 3000 ft. The only damage on a 19 year old rocket, easily fixed :)
 

nealkas

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Check around with flooring and cabinetry type contractors.
Especially the smaller independents.
Since you can mostly get away with cutoffs, you might be able to score some freebies or nearly so.
 

stealth6

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Steam Iron works wonders.
Flatten it out again yourself. Get the wood wet and press it between two flat surfaces (I use scrap window glass) until it's dried out.
Yes, this works. And I have done it - with ok results.

However, actually flat stock is still a much better way to go. See, a given piece of wood "wants" to be in a particular state of rest. For some (the good ones) that is flat and true, and for others it's warped/cupped. With plywood, this is less of a concern than with solid wood, but still. So, if you flatten or straighten a warped piece, it is somewhat likely that it will warp again. I do not want this to happen once the fins are part of a completed rocket, so I try to use stock that is stable when it's flat whenever possible.

It's true warped stock can be flattened. It's also true that plywood, and particularly plywood with higher numbers of plys, will "stay where you put it" better than solid wood. As well, sealing the fins with filler/primer/paint helps in keeping a flat piece stable. Because of all this, I will use slightly warped stock if that's what's available.

But given all this, that fin still has a greater chance of twisting on the completed rocket than if I had used truly flat stock to begin with. So, if given the choice, I will always try to get flat, stable stock if I can.

s6
 

bradycros

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Steam Iron works wonders.
Flatten it out again yourself. Get the wood wet and press it between two flat surfaces (I use scrap window glass) until it's dried out.
Yes, this works. And I have done it - with ok results.

However, actually flat stock is still a much better way to go. See, a given piece of wood "wants" to be in a particular state of rest. For some (the good ones) that is flat and true, and for others it's warped/cupped. With plywood, this is less of a concern than with solid wood, but still. So, if you flatten or straighten a warped piece, it is somewhat likely that it will warp again. I do not want this to happen once the fins are part of a completed rocket, so I try to use stock that is stable when it's flat whenever possible.

It's true warped stock can be flattened. It's also true that plywood, and particularly plywood with higher numbers of plys, will "stay where you put it" better than solid wood. As well, sealing the fins with filler/primer/paint helps in keeping a flat piece stable. Because of all this, I will use slightly warped stock if that's what's available.

But given all this, that fin still has a greater chance of twisting on the completed rocket than if I had used truly flat stock to begin with. So, if given the choice, I will always try to get flat, stable stock if I can.

s6

I belive your mistaken.
 
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