Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Balsa dust

Tonight I realized again why I should have bought that 10" sanding disk by now....

I got the plans copied today, and started cutting them apart tonight.  I decided that the first task should be the wings.  The wings are in 3 pieces - a center section which makes up the gull, and two outboard plug-in tips.  The center section is made of 32, #1 root ribs including a couple of #1 ribs as the first set on the outboard panels.  I decided that I'll be making the two inboard root ribs, and the outboard joint ribs out of 1/16" ply for strength and durability, which means I only needed to cut 26 balsa ribs out of 1/16" stock.

I had good rib stock on hand, so I first cut 26, 1.25x9.5 inch blanks, then cut the #1 rib pattern out of the plans and attached to the top blank using 3M77.  I stacked the wood tightly, took it to the drill press, and bored two holes that I could bolt through.  Then I took the stack to the band saw and cut the pattern down to within about 1/16" of the rib outline.  I also had to make a jig to fit under the stack and accept the through bolts so it would ride flat on the band saw table.  From there, it was lots of sanding, checking with a square, and more sanding until they were perfect.

This was my very first stacked rib project, and I think they turned out pretty good.  I still need to cut the spar notches, but I'm going to tackle the other ribs tomorrow night then do all of the notches at the same time.  The next set of ribs will be more time consuming, but I only need to make two of each so the sanding part will be easier.

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