Welcome to the Balsa Workbench

If you’re reading this website I assume you’ve thought at least a little bit about building balsa planes.  It can be a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work, so why would you go to all of the trouble to learn how to build a balsa plane when the market is full of affordable foam airplanes that you could just buy and fly?

The simple answer is because balsa planes fly better.  The goal of an airplane designer is to make a structure that weighs as little as possible while being as rigid as possible.  Most of the commercially available ready-to-fly models are made of foam, which tends to be rather flexible, which causes performance to suffer.  Thicker materials will improve aerodynamic performance at the expense of greater weight.  Balsa solves this problem by allowing you to build a plane that is both light and strong.  If you have flown a foam RC plane, you will be pleasantly surprised by the superior performance of a well built balsa plane.

You can buy pre built balsa planes of course.  But if you want to give building a try you may find that it is quite rewarding to start with a pile of sticks and turn it into an airplane that not only flies but also offers the satisfaction that comes from handling a well tuned machine.  It’s a good feeling.

Back in the good old days model airplane builders would trade advice and building tips at the flying field or get good advice from hobby magazines.  Nowadays it can be difficult to find people who know how to build.  I hope this site can help neophytes get started on the right track and avoid a lot of the frustration that plagues new builders.

I started building balsa airplanes in 1986.  I would build a plane, try to fly it, repair minor crash damage, and sell it before totally destroying it.  Then I would build another plane and start over.  This was a great way to learn building techniques.  For a couple of years I built airplanes as my main source of income, until inexpensive ARFs put an end to that.

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I still build a lot of airplanes.  I fly them for a while and then hang them up for sale at the hobby store, and start building the next one.  Over the years I’ve picked up a lot of simple tricks that make it easy to build a straight, strong, light airplane and do it fairly quickly.

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I’m not into fancy scale details, so I don’t have much to say about making scale panel lines, tiny rivets and other such details.  What I like best is plain old RC airplanes.  What I want to do with this website is feature my own building projects in articles telling new builders how to put a plane together easily and accurately.  If there’s anything in particular you’d like to talk about, just send me an email.  I welcome comments and questions.

Click here to check out my store.  For those of you who don’t have time to cut out your own parts, I’m now offering laser cutting services.

Also, check out my friend David McIntire.  He’s an engine freak who can help you choose, run, repair, and generally get the most out of a glow engine.