BALSA WOOD strip cutter
Balsa Strip wood cutter.
I enjoy building and flying model aircraft, these are built mainly from balsa wood. The balsa wood is purchased from a model shop or by mail order from a specialist supplier. One of the common sizes is 1/8" inch square, and it was becoming costly to purchase large quantities of this popular size. Typically around £0.20 pence per strip, where as a sheet of 1/8" x 4" inch costs £1.49 a sheet. In theory then I could cut 32 strips from one 4 inch plank making a huge saving. I had already purchased a balsa stripper from a model shop but this was proving to be unreliable, in that the cuts were inconsistent due the blade wandering and not staying square to the piece of wood being cut. This left me thinking that could I do better, and the following is my solution and how to put one together yourself.
A wooden board approx 300mm x 200mm preferably pine’
A strip of wooden batten 10-12 mm thick, the length of your board, I used 12 x 44mm PAR. (Planned All Round)
You will need two pieces of aluminium or steel 1.5-2mm thick, 1piece 60mm x 40mm and 30mm x 40mm
A Number 4 Scalpel and No.26 blade
Wood-screws and pilot drill.
Take one of your pieces of metal and along the 30mm or 60mm edge mark your 1/8” inch divisions, 8 divisions will allow you to cut up to 1inch widths. Keeping both pieces of metal together, clamp them in a vice and using a junior hacksaw cut your divisions about 8mm deep. Clean away any burrs. See picture.
Take your board and screw down the piece of PAR timber down along the long edge.
Then take the smaller of the metal plates, placing the small plate against the fence, one third along its length,from the left, keeping the eighth increments on the right hand side. Mark around the plate, then rebate into the board so that it is flush.
The plate can then be glued (or screwed) in place.
Superimpose the large plate over the small plate. I used the scalpel to align the slots. Keeping the “eighth divisions on the right hand side. You can mark an extra 1/8" increment on the top plate which can be used to line up with the Front Edge of the 44 x 10 PAR Fence. The top plate can now be screwed in place, it is recommended that you only put in two screws at first and then using a piece of 1/8 or ¼ BALSA , check the alignment and the quality of the cut. Then make any adjustments if required and put the last screws in.
Your stripper is now ready for use.
Before use I recommended that it is clamped down to your work surface. Select the thickness you wish to strip, insert the knife through the top slot and bottom slot into the board. Then push your balsa sheet up against the fence and along,cutting your chosen width. A sanding block makes a good tool for pushing the balsa along and a wooden push stick for finishing the cut, both of which will keep your fingers away from the blade. When not in use remove the scalpel.
The safe way to work with a sharp or cutting tool is to concentrate on the task at hand. Keep your fingers away from the knife blade when cutting and use a form of pushing device or stick instead of your fingers,
When drilling the metal plates wear eye protection.
What would i do with a ZING.
If i was lucky enough to win a Zing, it would certainly be used in my main Hobby, task's such as cutting out Ribs to make aeroplane wings. One area of the hobby that is suffering and dying out is scratch building, there is an ever increasing number of people who go out and buy a Kit of an almost ready to fly model, partly because they don't know how to to start building or that's the way they got into the hobby when they visited their local model supplier. I would also like to use the Zing to be able to produce a low tech simple to build kit,comprising of the tricky bits, Ribs and Formers, in low numbers at low cost's, so that the builder adds his or her own stick, sheet and covering materials, to encourage others to build their own and express their creativity. By keeping the kits to simple designs, or vintage designs updated to radio control use, a fleet of aircraft could be assembled by club members of all skill levels, so that their knowledge and expertise can be shared and that they can help each other out. A Zing laser cutter would never sit idol for long in my workshop, recently I've been making LED backlit name signs for the girls and their friends, this involves cutting out their names in thin plywood sheet, a laborious long process by hand, which a laser cutter could do not just so much faster than me but would also be so much neater. Who knows it could be the start of something new for myself, with the possibilities a Zing offers it could be the beginnings of a new career and the start of a new Home Business.