How to make a balsa wood model house

Written by ty flowers
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How to make a balsa wood model house
Using just a few simple materials, you can make your own model house out of balsa for either architectural purposes or entertainment. (Model house image by L. Shat from

Balsa is a thin, pliable wood made from the balsa tree, a tree native to South America. Many hobbyists use it to make miniature models because it is cheap, light, neutral in colour and easy to cut and work with. If you are interested in making a model house out of balsa wood, you should prepare to purchase a fairly large amount of it. Each wall will have to be cut out of a separate sheet of balsa, and a good bit of it will likely go to waste.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 20 or more sheets of balsa wood, 36-inch
  • Hobby knife
  • Jigsaw
  • Pencil
  • Foam board
  • Sketchbook
  • Balsa wood hobby glue
  • Straightedge
  • Straight pins
  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Sketch your model house, room by room, using a pencil and sketchbook, until you've mapped it out completely. The dimensions of every floor, window, door and ceiling will have to be worked out into a cohesive model before you begin cutting and gluing.

  2. 2

    Draw the areas of each wall, ceiling and floor on the sheets of balsa using a pencil and straightedge. Draw every other cut, including windows, moulding, doors and fine details. Make sure everything you draw is to exact measurements by using your measuring tape.

  3. 3

    Cut out each wall, floor and ceiling using a jigsaw.

  4. 4

    Carve the other details on each individual piece using a hobby knife.

  5. 5

    Glue the walls of the first floor to the foam board. Glue each wall together to make rooms. Stick straight pins through the walls while the glue is drying to ensure that the glue binds tightly.

  6. 6

    Glue the ceiling on top of each room when the glue has finished drying. This will be the floor of the next level.

  7. 7

    Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you are satisfied with your results.

Tips and warnings

  • Soak the balsa in water for 12 hours if you want to bend it (to make an arched roof, for example). Bend it immediately after removing it from the water. It will set in place in several hours after you have bent it. You may also want to purchase balsa sheets in a variety of thicknesses, if you want the interior walls thinner than the exterior walls, for example. Many people purchase a combination of 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch balsa.

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