Balsa wood come from the rainforests in South America and Central America. It is a very light wood that is often used for models and props, and it is an excellent wood to learn to carve on as it is very soft and easy to cut. Learning how to carve balsa wood is a straightforward experience and there are many tips that can make the process even easier.
Use the Right Tools
When carving balsa wood, X-acto knives or craft knives are an ideal choice to work with. These knives are easy to handle, and the blades are easily replaced. A No. 2 X-acto knife with a No. 26 blade can be used to carve the wood, while a No. 1 X-acto knife with a No. 11 blade can be used for general cutting purposes. Similarly, a razor saw can be used to rough out the wood and to shape it.
Keep Replacement Blades on Hand
Balsa wood is very soft, and though it will not break your knives the way that a harder wood can, you will find that it can still bend the blade and cause it to dull. Keeping replacement blades on hand will allow you to switch out blades very quickly without losing time. Using dull knives is frustrating and because they can slip, they can even be dangerous.
Use Sanding Blocks
Balsa wood is very easy to sand, and sometimes it is easier to shape the balsa wood with a sanding block than to use a knife. Sanding blocks are simply small chunks of wood that are wrapped with sand paper, and you can make your own or buy them from the store. Use 80-grit sandpaper, which is fairly coarse, to shape the wood. Glue sandpaper to the tips of dowels and to small pieces of plywood and use it to work in tight places on your model.
Keep a Model On Hand
Especially if you are carving balsa wood for a model, it can be helpful to keep an example of what you are carving on hand. For instance, if you are carving a propeller, it can be helpful to have a propeller on hand to look at as you carve. This can you visualise the finished product and it can prevent you from carving mistakes into your project.