Instructions on how to make a balsa wood glider

Written by jose leiva
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Instructions on how to make a balsa wood glider
Gliders stay in the air by floating over the wind, rather than flying. (hang-glider image by Sergej Razvodovskij from

Making a glider of balsa wood is a simple arts-and-crafts project that kids can easily partake in and enjoy. Not only does making a balsa wood glider allow kids to create something, but it also gives them the opportunity to make a functional toy for themselves. If done correctly, a balsa wood glider will soar through the air for at least a few seconds and allow kids to brag about their engineering skills.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • One 10-inch by 10-inch balsa wood board
  • Precision knife
  • Wood glue

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  1. 1

    Draw a fuselage shape for the body of the plane onto a balsa wood board. Use a pencil to make the drawing. The fuselage shape should be 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. Make sure there is a tail piece at one end of the fuselage shape that is 1 inch wide and 3 inches long.

  2. 2

    Draw a wing shape of the same length and width as the fuselage piece on the same balsa wood board, then draw a tail wing shape that is 1 inch wide by 3 inches long.

  3. 3

    Cut out all three shapes from the balsa wood board using a precision knife.

  4. 4

    Carve a notch into the centre of the fuselage piece. The notch should be 3 inches long and as wide as the fuselage piece is thick. Use the precision knife to make the notch.

  5. 5

    Carve a notch into the centre of the 3-inch edge of the tail wing piece. The notch should be 2 1/2 inches long and as wide as the tail wing is thick.

  6. 6

    Insert the wing piece through the notch on the fuselage piece. This piece will not be attached to the balsa wood glider. Make sure the wings are not crooked and that the wing piece is centred on the fuselage.

  7. 7

    Insert the end of the fuselage piece with the tail piece into the notch on the tail wing piece. Apply wood glue to the notch before inserting the fuselage piece. Hold the pieces in place until the glue dries.

Tips and warnings

  • Extreme care should be taken when using tools such as knives. Wear appropriate eye protection and safety equipment. Younger children should be supervised when using knives or other tools.

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