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Thread: Balsa

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Warwick, RI
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    Balsa

    Got some balsa because there wasn't any bass at Hobby Lobby. That should real easy to carve, right?

  2. #2
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    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hutchings View Post
    Got some balsa because there wasn't any bass at Hobby Lobby. That should real easy to carve, right?
    Hi Richard.

    What kind of carving? Chisels, knives, rotary tools? I've used balsa in the past to do what I might call quick "sketches" of planned carvings. It is very soft and easy to cut. However, the tools need to be razor sharp or you might get tearout. I also wonder if it can be carved cleanly with rotary tools. Balsa also does not have what I'd call a fine grain/texture. I must say I've never heard of balsa recommended for carving. I used to use it a lot to make model airplanes!

    I've done quite a bit of chip carving and I'd far prefer basswood - still easy to carve but cuts very cleanly and takes finish nicely.

    BTW, northern basswood is recommended by carvers for the fine grain, probably because the trees grow slower. If you can't find it locally, you can order it. I've ordered a fairly large quantity from Heinecke Wood. https://heineckewood.com/ I bought 2", 3", and 4" thick planks about 4' long and up to 12" wide. It was shipped by UPS for a very reasonable cost. The wood was flawless, as perfect as any I've seen, better than some I saw in a local carving store. Heinecke was a pleasant company to deal with as well. You might give them a call.

    I bought basswood primarily to use with woodturnings such as these:

    chip_carved_goblet_c.jpg BOC_C_Jack_01_IMG_6687.jpg

    And a truthful sign for my shop :

    chip_mess.jpg

    Hey, if you don't have your location listed but if you happen to live close to me come by and I'll give you some to get by on.

    JKJ

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Clarks Summit PA
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    1,053
    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Hi Richard.

    What kind of carving? Chisels, knives, rotary tools? I've used balsa in the past to do what I might call quick "sketches" of planned carvings. It is very soft and easy to cut. However, the tools need to be razor sharp or you might get tearout. I also wonder if it can be carved cleanly with rotary tools. Balsa also does not have what I'd call a fine grain/texture. I must say I've never heard of balsa recommended for carving. I used to use it a lot to make model airplanes!

    I've done quite a bit of chip carving and I'd far prefer basswood - still easy to carve but cuts very cleanly and takes finish nicely.

    BTW, northern basswood is recommended by carvers for the fine grain, probably because the trees grow slower. If you can't find it locally, you can order it. I've ordered a fairly large quantity from Heinecke Wood. https://heineckewood.com/ I bought 2", 3", and 4" thick planks about 4' long and up to 12" wide. It was shipped by UPS for a very reasonable cost. The wood was flawless, as perfect as any I've seen, better than some I saw in a local carving store. Heinecke was a pleasant company to deal with as well. You might give them a call.

    I bought basswood primarily to use with woodturnings such as these:

    chip_carved_goblet_c.jpg BOC_C_Jack_01_IMG_6687.jpg

    And a truthful sign for my shop :

    chip_mess.jpg

    Hey, if you don't have your location listed but if you happen to live close to me come by and I'll give you some to get by on.

    JKJ
    John, your turned goblet with chip carving is beautiful!

  4. #4
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    Dec 2006
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    Warwick, RI
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    401
    As I said it was all they had so I figured I'd try so e whittling on it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    41
    +1 on John's comments.

    My first carvings as a youth was making model airplanes and fishing lures. Both were very rough, as I knew very little about getting tools carving sharp.

    If you can not find basswood, you might get some clear white pine, poplar, or aspen to play around on. When you decide to get serious about carving, you'll probably end up with basswood.

    BTW.... re: basswood at Hobby Lobby... If they didn't have any when you were there, they can get it:

    https://www.hobbylobby.com/search/?text=basswood

    I do not buy my basswood from them, as all basswood is not created equal and I have never seen what I'd call "quality" wood at HL. Give Heinecke a try. Good stuff!
    .... Dave

    Old carvers never die.... they just whittle away.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rainey View Post
    John, your turned goblet with chip carving is beautiful!
    Why thanks! I learned chip carving primarily so I could carve on curved things. Most chip carving I'd seen was on flat surfaces, some on spoon handles.

    Good clean fun.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Warwick, RI
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Hey, if you don't have your location listed but if you happen to live close to me come by and I'll give you some to get by on.

    JKJ
    I just noticed this and thanks for the offer. You're a fair bit away from RI :-)

  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hutchings View Post
    I just noticed this and thanks for the offer. You're a fair bit away from RI :-)
    Road trip!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Warwick, RI
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    401
    Yeah, no! I can get basswood around here, I just need to take the time to go get it.

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