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Cheap Alternative Nose Cones Answered

I am currently working on a new idea in which the nosecone of a model rocket is made from wood putty. Here are the steps:
1. Make a a frame made from a thin piece of balsa.
2. Fill in the four sections with a generous a mount of wood putty or wood filler.
3. Sand using a rough sandpaper, then something finer
4. Attach a dowel to the bottom and add a screw eye
Do you think it will work? 


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11 years ago

It may.. depending upon the size of your nose cone (how big is the one you want to build?)...However, wood putty is designed to fill in small spaces, not larger ones.  I would think that it might be kind of brittle once it dries (which is likely to take a long time, depending upon the size of you nose-cone).  If your cone is small enough, it may be just fine.

Epoxy might be a better solution, if you are looking for weight.  Avoid the quick-drying stuff, though, if you are filling in a larger space, as it has a tendency to expand more than the "normal" stuff (and it produces more heat, but that is probably not a concern).

Alternatively, you could just make it out of a block of balsa or bass wood.  Here is the method I use for conical shapes things (I have built prop cowls for model planes and decorative items for furniture this way), if it is small enough and you don't have a lathe.

1. cut a rough cone shape from your material.
2. attach the flat end to your hand-held drill (or if you are lucky enough, your drill press).  If the piece is small enough, it may just fit into the chuck, otherwise you may need to attach a screw or bolt to the back end to fit into the chuck.
3. fire up the drill (at a low speed), and simply hold some coarse sandpaper (100 grit is about the lowest I would use on balsa) against the item and use it to shape it.
4. Repeat as necessary with finer sandpaper until you are satisfied with the finish.

If you are building a larger nosecone, you might be able to follow your plan with the frame, and then cover it with something like "coverite" (basically it is a mylar that it is used for covering model planes...it is relatively easy to work with...there are other brands that work just as well).