Instructables
So, you spent six months finding five-minute breaks to glue in struts and bend longerons. Finally, the kit instructions say something along the lines of, "use our magic tissue and overpriced dope to cover up that beautiful balsa sculpture on your bench." What? No way are you going to cover it up with boring tissue! A white plane? This ain't no Cessna!

This Instructable will detail the simple steps involved in covering a balsa structure with plastic wrap (or cellophane, or food wrap, or Saran wrap--whichever name you prefer). No, it's not as strong as Monokote or Ultracote, and probably not as strong as tissue. It certainly isn't as easy to patch as tissue. However, it's much lighter, cheaper, easier to find, and better at showing off the underlying structure.

My original attempt was to replicate the look of the SIG Rascal, which I find to be one of the nicest-looking covering jobs on a sport flyer. I wasn't sure how well I could combine tissue and plastic, so I went for a more basic approach. Pictured is my SIG Tiger, which has a similar design, but a longer nose (since there's no engine to balance it).

Some of you may remember the forum topic I posted quite awhile ago on this subject.
 
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Step 1: Materials

There isn't much here.

You need:
-Frame The balsa aircraft, sans covering. Or with any tissue trim, if you want.
-Plastic wrap Plastic, Saran, food, or cellophane wrap. Call it what you want, find something in pretty colors. I raided this from the kitchen drawer a year ago, and I don't think Mom knows that it's gone yet.
-Glue stick Nothing fancy here. I raided this from the office. Aren't raids fun?
-Heat gun That is a manly-looking piece of equipment. The one in the basement didn't look nearly manly enough for me to photograph it, so I raided this from a garage. Raid!
-Scissors and razor blade (not pictured) Some scissors work better than others. I don't know why.
OPlatts made it!16 days ago

As a beginner I've been having real difficulty with LiteSpan, I just need more time to learn how to use it properly. Running out of patience, I was really pleased to run across this explanation of how to use plastic wrap - it's worked pretty well, as you can see! It's a delicate covering but easy to apply, and you can easily peel it off to replace it if you need to.

Glider 1.jpg
Just happened onto this "Instructables" as I'm currently converting a Guillows Lancer to RC (remote control). I was looking for a light heat shrinkable covering and found this article. However, after doing some additional research, I actually found a VERY light and VERY workable covering offered by "Stevens Aeromodels" call AeroFilm - AeroLite. It comes in a variety of colors, you can purchase an 11"x27" package of covering for $5.00 or a roll for about $15. Here's the link
http://www.stevensaero.com/AeroLITE-p-1-c-39.html

The Aero Film - AeroLite has got to be the best covering I've used for light weight, small balsa and tissue aircraft/airframes. In addition you can cover an entire plane for about $5-$10 depending if you use one or more colors. You did a GREAT job with your plane and the article.
yapoyo2 years ago
With all those raids, it makes you seem like you're a comanche.
Yay im gonna make a boat and use window film my parents wont use
singil715 years ago
i've been working on a budget Lazy Bee and wow. Just what I was looking for. thanks for the great instruct and pics. peace
Ohm5 years ago
Just noticed your instructable, looks good. Definitely use a hair dryer though. Also there is a similar mylar covering that is as light as shrink wrap and has glue pre-applied like monokote but it is painfully expensive at $22 a roll, it is called Nelson LiteFilm. I well have to give this a try on one of my models in future.
KentsOkay6 years ago
Pretty damn slick, oh yah, hate to break this on you now but, thinned-down Elmer's makes the best dope you could ever want. Paint the frame with it, than glue it down with it, than mist lightly with water. Presto. I'll post pics of my Spitfire when I get around to it...
Also Elmer's and tissue make a strongish skin, and it's REALLY easy to repair
CameronSS (author)  KentsOkay6 years ago
Ugly, though...;-)
Really? I think it looks incredibly authentic, and it can be painted.
rc jedi6 years ago
here is 1 i did a while back. very lite, but kinda "rubbery". it works well but don't expect it to add strength, so rely on structure rather than tensile strength.
park 01 001.jpg
xtank56 years ago
Awesome!! And you don't even have to use this just for planes, You could use it on boats, or blimps, etc, etc.. Just one question. What would happen if you glued the film on one piece of wood, then glued another piece right on top of that one, and then shrunk it? Would it make it stronger? So anyway, I really have to try this. Faved.
CameronSS (author)  xtank56 years ago
You mean layers of film? I'm not sure...I was considering that today. Hold on. >quickly glues on another piece< It's stronger, but pretty ugly. Given how easy it is to replace this stuff, I'd recommend just using a single piece, and replacing it when it tears. Also, I'm guessing that someone makes "heavy-duty" plastic wrap, which would probably be stronger. There's a film you can get to go on window screens, too...it's pretty tough, but more expensive.
DSCN7323.JPG
Sweet. I was thinking that using multiple layers would allow for extra strength in certain applications such as below the waterline on a model boat. I'm gonna go try this out now.
nice Diy Monocoat would be great to patch up holes from thorns and small crashes (added to my group)
tweekin6 years ago
sweet i was going to make a plane from scratch but couldn't think of what to cover it with now i do thanx
rimar20006 years ago
Excellent idea, thanks
qultiq6 years ago
Maybe a heavy duty garbage bag would work.
microman1716 years ago
Nice! I might use this for other things that need tight wrapping like this.
awoodcarver6 years ago
I have seen this or something like it used for light weight indoor flyers but never thought to put it on the kits I have waiting in the garage for me to start on ...very cool if I had known it was that easy I would have covered some of the ones I made from scratch with it
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
That is a great idea!
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Nice! I might try to use it as shrink wrap