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Thread: Wood for spars


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    Wood for spars

    I have a plane that I need to make new wings for, and cant seem to locate Spruce for the spars. What other wood would be good for spars? Its a rather large wing, around 80" for a parasol plane. I am considering adding a bottom wing and making it a bipe.
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    Aircraft spruce and specialty sells spruce that you may have to rip down to the size you need. Other then that you could try National Balsa, balsa USA and other wood suppliers.

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    I often use pine. If you check the lumber yards (if they let you examine each board) you can often find some pretty nice close grained pine with long enough space between knots to cut some pretty nice sticks. I use lots of it for my really large (5 to 8 foot spans) and have never had a problem with it, almost as good as spruce. Of course you need a table saw or equivalent to cut the strips.

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    Spruce is a conifer, so I guess pine would work. I have a few clear boards laying around that I could cut into strips for this. I prefer spruce due to its tight straight grains, and is lighter than maple, which would make really solid strong spars.
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    I use Poplar or Aspen. Available at the local lumber yard.
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    The best place I have found for my building wood is http://www.balsawoodinc.com/ They have the best prices, extremely good quality, fast shipping and great customer service. As their web site isn't the greatest for navigating, the service is well worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acerc View Post
    I use Poplar or Aspen. Available at the local lumber yard.
    I can get poplar in the sizes I need from Menards, but wasnt sure if it would be too heavy or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by countilaw View Post
    The best place I have found for my building wood is http://www.balsawoodinc.com/ They have the best prices, extremely good quality, fast shipping and great customer service. As their web site isn't the greatest for navigating, the service is well worth it.

    Frank
    Thank you, I book marked it and will give them a look once I know what I need for materials. We are looking to build a couple copies off a Pico kit this winter too.

    I skimmed the site and found something else I have been looking for, 1
    48" long lite ply for fuse sides. I want to rebuild my crashed 4*120 ARF and have been trying to find long enough ply and they have it.
    Last edited by acdii; 11-17-2013 at 09:08 PM.
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    Aircraft Spruce. Look for spruce "cap strips." They have most of the common sizes used for our size spars. You usually order by the foot.

    They ship quick and are very good to deal with.

    Bryan

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    Just a warning about Aircraft Spruce (as well as every sawyer I've ordered any species of wood from). Their specs just aren't very tight. I order a lot of hardwood - mostly domestic and all of it is all over the place in dimensions.

    I ordered cap strips from Aircraft Spruce and almost none of it was close enough to the stated size to use as is. I ordered 1/8" x 1/4" and it varied from 3/32" on the 1/8" dimension to 5/16" on the 1/4" dimension.

    I have a small table saw that is very accurate (Byrnes) with the micrometer fence and can re-saw all my wood to exacting tolerances, but if you can't re-saw then you might have problems. Would be best to not cut any notches for the wood until you have it on hand and then cut the notches to fit the wood you have instead of what size you wanted it to be.

    The spruce from Aircraft Spruce was excellent wood though. Everything I got would make good spars if used appropriately.
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    I am also for Aircraft Spruce & Specialties, been going to them over 30 years for my model and full scale needs.

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    I have used aspen boards from the hardware store cut down to size and also have had good luck with a very tight grained hemlock molding boards bought from lowes. The grain was very tight and straight without a single knot in the whole piece. I built a 72" wing for a seamaster out of the hemlock.

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    Home Depot carries 1x6 fence boards. Select boards with the best grain structure and least knots. Rip to whatever size you want on your table saw. Just go in and ask for spruce boards and they will point them out for you.

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    I guess I have been missing out on some straight grain Spruce from Home Depot...

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    We can all find some great boards in the home supply lumberyards. The trick is to find those with tighter growth rings with up around 16 or more rings per inch. On small pieces this is hard to measure. But if you look at the end grain and find wood with the rings 1/16 or less inches apart and it's useably long between knots then it can be excellent spar wood for cheap.

    Oh, I've got my own table saw as well as a big bandsaw. So re-sawing to size isn't a big deal for me. But if those of you without a table saw check around I'm willing to bet that someone you know has a saw and could do the re-sawing for you.
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    I have 2 table saws and a band saw, but got my eyes on one of these.
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    If you plan to do a lot of resawing, the bigger the saw, the better. I'm still using a 10 inch table saw that I purchased in 1957. With the proper blade and a zero clearance insert, I can cut 1/16 inch thick slices off large stock with no difficulty. Of coarse, the waste (sawdust) is often more volume than the finished strips are as the cut is wider than the finished stock. The secret to a good cut is a sharp blade, solid fence and zero clearance on the insert the blade comes up through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    If you plan to do a lot of resawing, the bigger the saw, the better. I'm still using a 10 inch table saw that I purchased in 1957. With the proper blade and a zero clearance insert, I can cut 1/16 inch thick slices off large stock with no difficulty. Of coarse, the waste (sawdust) is often more volume than the finished strips are as the cut is wider than the finished stock. The secret to a good cut is a sharp blade, solid fence and zero clearance on the insert the blade comes up through.
    My Main saw is setup like this, and I have ripped 1/32" thin strips of Cherry with it, but like you said, more dust than pieces. I use a laser cut thin rim carbide tooth blade that produces a very fine finish, but if you dont feed it right burns the wood. I also do ship modeling, so that little saw is something I have been wanting for quite some time for making the planking and other small strips that just cant be done on the big saw.
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    Quote Originally Posted by acdii View Post
    I have 2 table saws and a band saw, but got my eyes on one of these.
    I mostly agree with Rodney. Zero clearance plates are absolutely necessary as is a good blade. However, it's very hard to get extreme accuracy on a full size table saw unless you have an expensive fence or want to mess around with using shims to nail your sizes within a couple of thousandths (if that's important to you). I have an Incra fence for my 10" saw but can't use it yet because it's 6' wide and I don't have that much space in my shop to have a fence sticking out all the time.

    The Byrnes saw is more expensive than the Microlux/Proxxon saw but it's multitudes better. I call it an Engineer's table saw because you can get within 0.001" and 0.002" every single time with a few test cuts on scrap if you purchase the micrometer accessory.

    The saw has no built-in tilt capability though.

    If you decide to buy the Byrnes saw talk to me before buying any blades. I've purchased about 20 different blades for the saw and have used the best of them extensively so I can save you some money by heading you in the right direction from the beginning.

    My Byrnes will cut 3/4" oak with the right blade without burning it.

    Jim did a run of wider tables for it either early this year or sometime last year. I brought it and took the saw back to him to mount it. He squared up the arbor to the miter slots and I now have over 6" capacity. I think the new top was $200. So I've sunk a lot of money into that saw but mine has hundreds of hours of run-time and I would buy that saw again in a heartbeat.

    This is the link to the Byrnes Table Saw:

    http://www.byrnesmodelmachines.com/t...m=1127MM988882

    By the way, I bought a second Microlux saw (same as what you're looking at) and the blade is not aligned properly with the miter slots. There is no built-in way to adjust it either. It was my second of these saws because the first one burned up. The first saw didn't have the alignment problem though. I would not buy this saw again based on the second saw. There is a way to adjust the alignment but you have to disassemble the saw and take a Dremel to it. I can't remember where I found it but it was on a site run by a woman named Karen if I recall correctly. In fact, months after I found her site I received an email from her telling me about the article on her site. Point is you might be able to find it by searching for "microlux (or proxxon) saw blade alignment" and maybe throw her name in there as well.

    This is my review of the Microlux saw on my website. In particular read the addendum in the second section and think about it before buying that saw. Proxxon and Microlux are the same saw as far as I know.

    http://www.airfieldmodels.com/inform..._table_saw.htm
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeenMan View Post
    I mostly agree with Rodney. Zero clearance plates are absolutely necessary as is a good blade. However, it's very hard to get extreme accuracy on a full size table saw unless you have an expensive fence or want to mess around with using shims to nail your sizes within a couple of thousandths (if that's important to you). I have an Incra fence for my 10" saw but can't use it yet because it's 6' wide and I don't have that much space in my shop to have a fence sticking out all the time.

    The Byrnes saw is more expensive than the Microlux/Proxxon saw but it's multitudes better. I call it an Engineer's table saw because you can get within 0.001" and 0.002" every single time with a few test cuts on scrap if you purchase the micrometer accessory.

    The saw has no built-in tilt capability though.

    If you decide to buy the Byrnes saw talk to me before buying any blades. I've purchased about 20 different blades for the saw and have used the best of them extensively so I can save you some money by heading you in the right direction from the beginning.

    My Byrnes will cut 3/4" oak with the right blade without burning it.

    Jim did a run of wider tables for it either early this year or sometime last year. I brought it and took the saw back to him to mount it. He squared up the arbor to the miter slots and I now have over 6" capacity. I think the new top was $200. So I've sunk a lot of money into that saw but mine has hundreds of hours of run-time and I would buy that saw again in a heartbeat.

    This is the link to the Byrnes Table Saw:

    http://www.byrnesmodelmachines.com/t...m=1127MM988882

    By the way, I bought a second Microlux saw (same as what you're looking at) and the blade is not aligned properly with the miter slots. There is no built-in way to adjust it either. It was my second of these saws because the first one burned up. The first saw didn't have the alignment problem though. I would not buy this saw again based on the second saw. There is a way to adjust the alignment but you have to disassemble the saw and take a Dremel to it. I can't remember where I found it but it was on a site run by a woman named Karen if I recall correctly. In fact, months after I found her site I received an email from her telling me about the article on her site. Point is you might be able to find it by searching for "microlux (or proxxon) saw blade alignment" and maybe throw her name in there as well.

    This is my review of the Microlux saw on my website. In particular read the addendum in the second section and think about it before buying that saw. Proxxon and Microlux are the same saw as far as I know.

    http://www.airfieldmodels.com/inform..._table_saw.htm
    I have a couple Inca Jig fences, Very accurate, and was how I was able to rip such thin strips with my big cast iron behemoth. Problem is, like yours, its huge, 8' wide, on a large rolling cabinet, and has a router table built in on one wing. I cant get it down to my workshop where I can use it. I also had a roof leak that drenched the entire saw and ruined the surface of the cast iron top, which means hours of sanding and polishing it back to the super slick surface it once had. I have a Bosch portable saw that I use now, and while pretty accurate, I dont have a zero clearance insert for it. I also cant fit either of my Incra fences to it. This is why I am researching modeling table saws so I can get back into ship building. There was a shop in Mt Prospect where I could go to get all my ship building materials, but it has gone the way of all the rest of the shops, so now its either order online and hope you get decent wood, or craft my own.

    I will book mark your links and give them all a once over before I spend anything on tools. Thanks, appreciate it too.

    EDIT, I compared the Byrnes to the prox, no comparison. For $100 more the Byrnes is clearly a better saw, just by looking at it.
    Last edited by acdii; 11-28-2013 at 12:48 PM.
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    I have an Incra fence on my router table and get excellent precision with it. I would not hesitate to buy it again.

    This is the article I was talking about by Karen Corbin:

    http://karincorbin.blogspot.com/2009...djustment.html
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    By the way, I need very accurate wood to make the hardwood parts for my fixture system. Two things achieve that for me and both are by Byrnes - his table saw and his thickness sander. It takes some time but I make thousands of parts at a time. I spend about a week just putting wood through the thickness sander many, many times. By the time I'm finished nothing is more than .003" out of spec. That's pretty freaking good for wood but it's why all my parts fit into various drill jigs and then fit together like they are supposed to.

    Neither of Byrnes' tools has given me a bit of trouble. I did have to purchase a new switch for the saw but it cost maybe $10 from Lowes and took five minutes to install. My saw has seriously seen a lot of use. I would estimate over 100K cuts on it and it still runs like new.

    The question is whether you're willing to pay that much money to get that kind of accuracy and if you can get by without a tilt table.

    He makes a tilt table accessory but it's really odd how it works and looks kind of dangerous to me. I don't plan to buy one but then I still have my Microlux and a 10" saw (plus my scroll saw) that can all cut bevels. Even if I didn't have any of those other saws I would still by the Byrnes saw. I use the tilt almost never and any time I do I could have just hand-planed it instead.
    Last edited by CafeenMan; 11-28-2013 at 07:12 PM.
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    I just noticed you compared the two saws. The Byrnes saw is all 3/8 aluminum plate. It's a substantial tool.

    The best all around blade I've found for it is the Diablo (4-3/8 or 4-1/2"). It's also one of the least expensive. I found them on Amazon for less than $15 each and consider them disposable so I bought a half dozen of them. They last a long time though.

    I also have some rip blades with far fewer teeth. Many of the blades are a little too big for the saw and when you raise them they will cut into the bottom of the table. That's not something I care about though.

    Also, no matter what saw you get check Amazon and McMaster-Carr. Don't buy your blades through MicroMark unless you have extra money to burn. There's a huge selection at McMaster and the prices are generally a lot better.
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