How To Cut Balsa Wood In The Simplest Way
If you ask me what kind of wood that an amateur carpenter should work with, the answer would be the Balsa wood. While balsa is hardwood, it is well known for its softness. It is really easy to cut with the help of a basic knife or jigsaw. It is also very easy to sand and paint on the surface of the wood. You can apply other kinds of finishing products on it as well. Last but not least, balsa wood boards are available in all kinds of sickness, making it suitable for all kinds of woodworking project.
Working with balsa work is easy as long as you know the simple steps on how to cut balsa wood. Scroll down for the easiest way to handle your piece of balsa wood.
Tools that you would need for the project:
- An X-ACTO knife with a sharp blade. The best blade for cutting big pieces is the Number 11 blade. On the other hand, if you need a knife for carving balsa wood, go for an X-ACTO knife with Number 26 blade.
- C Clamps
- A piece of balsa wood
- A pencil (or a fine line pen), a ruler and a measuring tape.
- A medium rough sand paper (a 60 to 80 grit).
Step By Step On How To Cut Balsa Wood:
Step 1: Put the sheet of balsa wood on a flat surface. Draw your preferred pattern, line or curve onto the surface of the piece of wood using a sharp pencil.
Step 2: Then you need to place a straight ruler on top of the sheet along with the C-clamps on either side of the ruler. Tighten the clamps firmly.
Step 3: Take out the X-ACTO knife, skim along the drawn line on the first attempt. You don’t have to cut too deep in your first run. This is just the guide cut.
Step 4: Hold the blade vertical and slightly bending forward and keep cutting the wood. Finishing sliding at the end of your drawn line. You can also stop cutting when the first cut go parallel with the grain. If the cut go parallel with the grain, move the knife and changes the cut. So that it would go perpendicular to the grain instead.
Step 5: In this step, you need to repeat step 3 and step 4. This time, cut the knife a little bit deeper and add more pressure. Continue to cut until you can cut though the sheet of wood.
Step 6: Finally, use a sand paper to sand the cut surface of the piece of wood. For smaller pieces with small curve, you can use a nail file to sand instead.
Extra Tips On Cutting Balsa Wood:
- Remember to always work with the wood grain. When you slide the knife along the line and meet the grain of the wood, title the blade of the knife and cut across the grain a little bit so that the cut goes perpendicular to the line of the grain.
- Some pieces of balsa wood might be quite thin. But you should never use scissors as they are never sharp enough. For the same reason, make sure the knife that you are going to use has sharp blade. Dull blade would not just make your woodworking process not effectively, it also leads to split and tear easily. One of the best type of blade I like to use to cut balsa wood is carbide tipped blade. Hardened or high speed steel blades wouldn’t be able to hold a sharp edge for a long time.
- You don’t have to precisely cut along the line you draw on the wood. You can cut about 1/16 over the line and use a sand paper to smoothen the outer edges.
- You might want to work with the complicated shapes before moving on cutting straights pieces.
- If you want to cut a large amount of balsa wood in a short time, you can use a saw instead of an X-ACTO knife. The best saw blade for this project is a hollow ground or a cabinet maker type. A rip blade is the less efficient one as its pointed teeth would result in chipping of the cuts. Also pay attention to the tooth count of the blade. If you handle a thick piece of balsa wood, go for a saw with lower tooth counts.
Here are all of the things that you need to know about how to cut balsa wood. Overall, you can use the X-ACTO knife to work with the project. Make sure you use a sharp blade and pay attention to the wood grain. With these tips and information in mind, I am sure that you would be able to come up with beautiful and nicely cut pieces of balsa wood in a short amount of time.