Tools for working with Balsa wood

To make working with balsa as effective as possible, you will need to use the right tool for the right job. While there is certainly no end of tools that you can possibly use (or make!) for balsa, we'll out line the fundamental ones which will change the "chore" of working with balsa into a pleasure.
ToolAverage costDetails
Surgical knife with No.11 blade
$2.00~10.00Without doubt, you cannot do without this tool. There is simply no way you can work with balsa without a nice knife and sharp blades. Ensure that your blades are always sharp, a blunt blade makes working with balsa a lot harder but it's still sharp enough that you can cause yourself some serious damage from overexerting. To save money on blades, learn to use a sharpening stone, a few quick passes with the stone and your blade will be ready for the job at hand.
Razor saw
$10.00~$20.00For balsa thicker than 4mm the knife should be replaced by a razor saw for straight cuts, especially if you're attempting to cut against the grain. Select a razor saw which has replacable saw blades and make sure you always have a spare one. For the best cuts use the finest tooth blade you can obtain and don't rush the process. Use a mitre box to assist with keeping the saw upright and aligned.
Razor plane
$10.00Much like the situation where people attempt to cut thick wood with a No.11 knife rather than using a razor saw, a lot of people attempt to use sand paper rather than a razor plane to take off the bulk of balsa when shaping down. If you're filling your room up with balsa dust then you should be using a razor plane. A razor plane will let you shave down your fuselages, leading edges and trailing edges with such ease that you will never touch sandpaper for anything other than the finishing shaping. A sharp, well adjusted razor plane will feel like a hot knife in butter.
Balsa stripper
$10.00Though this is more of a scratch-builder tool, the balsa stripper is still incredibly useful, especially if you find yourself spending a lot of money on strip balsa stock. If you consider that a strip of 3mm x 3mm balsa costs $0.25, that means there are about 25 strips in a 75mm wide sheet of 3mm balsa, hence the total cost would be $6.25.... rather than spending $2 on a 3" wide sheet of 3mm balsa and using a balsa stripper. Best of all, you can create strip widths that suit your project at hand as you need them. Definately a very versatile tool.
Steel ruler
$5.00 Such a simple tool yet very important. Don't try use plastic or wooden rulers as the balsa knife will typically slice right into them.
Mini clamps
$3 for 20 Often available in hardware stores in bags of 20, these mini clamps are incredibly useful. They are ideal for holding together small balsa parts while you're waiting for glue to set or simply for standing balsa parts up so you can paint them. Get a couple of bags, it's amazing how many you use at once
Aluminium extrusions
$3~$5 for 1m lengths Most hardware stores carry 1m / 40" lengths of aluminium extrusions for fairly reasonable costs. Get L and square extrusions of about 1" size on each side. Cut the 1m length into various smaller lengths and keep them handy, they make excellent right-angle braces for when you're gluing in fuselage sides, ribs etc.

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