Introduction: Laser-Cut Glider

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As part of a 7 week project, my task was to design and create a traditional toy suitable for a toy shop to sell for a child. Through a series of designing and reviewing different possible toys I could produce, one design stood out as the most practical and interesting to make. A wood was a suitable material for a traditional toy and after deciding upon a glider it was obvious that a very light one was needed. I finally knew that my aim was to make a toy glider made out of balsa wood and for accuracy of cutting I would ideally use a laser cutter. After a 2D Design had been created I tried out a 1:1 glider on cardboard and glued the pieces together using wood glue. Although there were slight differences made to the cardboard model, due to the way the pieces would be attached, it served as an effective representation if the final model.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

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Materials: Balsa Wood 4mm PVA Wood Glue Greaseproof Baking paper Nose weight material of your choice

Step 2: Laser Cut the Components

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Using 4mm balsa wood, use the 2D design to laser cut the components which consist of: 1 fuselage 1 main wing spar 1 tail wing spar 12 main wing airfoils plus 1 spare 6 tail wing airfoils plus 1 spare

Step 3: Assemble the Wings

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Using the long airfoil sections place the rounded sections at the front of the long wing spar and the pointed end at the back. Excluding the central pair of dots, place these sections between each pair of dots along the main wing. For the tail wing glue the tail wing spar in the hole on the tail of the plane using the central dots to glue it evenly. Glue the short airfoil sections along this wing spar between each pair of dots like on the main wing.

Step 4: Sand the Fuselage

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Before the main wing is attached it is recommended that you sand the fuselage to reduce complications when finalising the project. Sanding at this stage should generally only include burn marks from laser cutting.

Step 5: Add Dihedral (optional)

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If like me you get pretty clumsy at times you might also find yourself accidentally snapping the wing in half. When this happens don't fret. The two halves of the main wing can be glued back together at an angle called 'Dihedral'. This is used to partially stabilise the plane when flying to help keep it level. Only a few degrees is necessary. If on the other hand you manage to keep the main wing in one piece you should probably leave it that way for strength.

Step 6: Attach Main Wing

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Using the central dots as guidance, glue the main wing into the slit on the top of the fuselage. Use a supporting frame to make sure the wings don't lose alignment while the glue is drying.

Step 7: Cover the Wings

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I used greaseproof baking paper to cover the wings because it is light and also windproof which is perfect for flight. Using the greaseproof baking paper cut a length that will sufficiently cover each portion of the main and tail wings. In this case for the main wing I cut 2 strips mm x mm and for the tail wing I cut 2 strips mm x mm. Making sure you cover the wings slowly, spread a small amount of glue over each airfoil and gently wrap round the greaseproof paper smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. Repeat this for all wing sections. If at any point the airfoil appear to have changed shape in response to glue added to one side put some glue on the other side and as it dries the shape should return to normal.

Step 8: Add Nose Weight

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Nose weight is likely necessary for a successful glider. Start by adding small amounts of blu tac to the nose of the plane. Balancing the wings on your fingers, add an amount the will set the centre of gravity to 1/4 of the way into the wings. Once you've done this you may either want to leave the tac or replace it with tidier laser cut pieces. If you choose to add laser cut pieces sand the corners the have a nice rounded surface.

Step 9: Throw

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It is quite possible that the fragile wings will break during a hard landing so it is advised you find a soft surface to land on or begin throwing from a low height. Apart from this though you should be ready to throw. Thank you for reading my first instructable and I hope you enjoy building.

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