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What tool for making clean holes in balsa?

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What tool for making clean holes in balsa?

Old 10-24-2021, 07:39 AM
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hag
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Default What tool for making clean holes in balsa?

I want to make holes in a bunch of 1/16 balsa ribs for carbon fiber rods. Over the years I've used drills, sharpened brass tubing and X-acto knives/files for this. None are totally satisfactory. Is there something I can stick in my drill press and drill clean perfect holes in a stack of ribs?
Old 10-24-2021, 08:26 AM
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scale only 4 me
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Brad tip aka brad point bits work pretty good for a clean edge,, Balsa is so soft it will probably rip the first piece a little so use a sacrificial piece on top and keep your stack tight,,, have something to back the last piece to to prevent blow out..

I use 5mm brad tips all the time in my cabinets I build

good luck

example with a pretty well used bit,, still getting some shredding,, but at least the holes are round and straight



Last edited by scale only 4 me; 10-24-2021 at 08:39 AM.
Old 10-24-2021, 08:59 AM
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For small holes up to 1" I use forstner bits. Hole saws work for larger holes.
Chuck
Old 10-24-2021, 09:23 AM
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I've seen Forstner bits at the tool store, but it never occurred to me to get some. I'll give them a try. Of course, if I were smart, I'd have cut the holes first, and then finished cutting out 40 ribs. Anyway, thanks for the replies!
Tom
Old 10-24-2021, 02:58 PM
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Hole saw run in reverse woks well too,, what size CF rods or holes are we talking about here?
Old 10-24-2021, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by scale only 4 me View Post
Hole saw run in reverse woks well too,, what size CF rods or holes are we talking about here?
1/4". The smallest hole saw I have is quite a bit bigger than that.
Old 10-24-2021, 05:19 PM
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I do have a 1/4 Forstner bit I'll test it out, I'd probably still go with the brad tip for balsa,, Forstners are great for ply and light ply though

Edit,,, This style small bit worked quite well,, back side didn't get as blow out as much either






Last edited by scale only 4 me; 10-24-2021 at 05:28 PM.
Old 10-25-2021, 02:39 AM
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Sharpened brass tubing works great for smaller holes in balsa.
Old 10-25-2021, 01:49 PM
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I agree on the suggestion of the sharpened brass tubing. But here's a source that is better. Break down the sections of an old 72mh transmitter antenna, and select the appropriate size for the desired hole. If you are lucky and have an a rat tail file that fits your final hole size, you can drill pilot holes, and then enlarge them with your round file in an electric drill, in REVERSE.
Old 10-25-2021, 01:54 PM
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I probably should have said that whether you use brass tubing, or antenna sections you need to do more then just sharpening the cutting end. Fashion it into a circular saw with sharpened teeth. You might even put "set" into the teeth, where every other tooth is bent slightly in and out.
Old 10-25-2021, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GREG DOE View Post
I agree on the suggestion of the sharpened brass tubing. But here's a source that is better. Break down the sections of an old 72mh transmitter antenna, and select the appropriate size for the desired hole. If you are lucky and have an a rat tail file that fits your final hole size, you can drill pilot holes, and then enlarge them with your round file in an electric drill, in REVERSE.
Now there's a great idea. Who doesn't have scads of old 72MHZ antennas laying around? I need to try this.

TH

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