The Archives

Archive for April, 2016

Balsa Gold Coast

Posted in: News, Surfboard, Wooden Surfboards & Alias by Richard Harvey on April 26, 2016

This is the new sub site for Balsa Gold Coast.

Balsa Gold Coast has been established to supply quality balsa logs specifically for the

surfboard industry. The factory, at Unit 3 / 10 Pacific Ave, Miami on the GoldCoast

in Queensland, carries harder to get, longer lengths up to 3 meters suitable for longboards,

stringers and bigwave surfboards, as well as 2.5 meter lengths for other surfboard sizes.

Our quality, lightweight balsa is square on all 4 faces, kiln dried, twist, pith and knot free with

no pin holes from borers. For that next special Balsa project think Balsa Gold Coast.

Balsa Surfboard-4

Balsa Gun-Surfboard

Balsa Gun Blank

Balsa construction methods can vary dramatically, here are some basic techniques.

Scarfing – (the traditional way)
Individual logs are trimmed to rocker template then the underneath section is then

scarfed onto the deck to achieve rocker (not to scale – for illustration purposes only)

scarfing

Planking
Individual logs are bent to rocker template Internal supports give the required thickness
(not to scale – for illustration purposes only)

planking

Chambering
Individual logs with scarfed section on top of the  nose have sections cut away from inside.

Rounded corners reduce internal splitting. (not to scale – for illustration purposes only)

chambering

How to bend balsa
Quite frequently in building with balsawood we need to bend balsa into a curved surface.

For curves with fairly large radiuses this can be done without any problem. When it comes to

convincing balsa to bend around curves (such as surfboard rockers) balsa has to be assisted into

making these curves without crimping or snapping. The reason why we choose to bend balsa around

such curves is for a couple of reasons;

Strength – Balsa is strongest when the grain runs the length of the wood.
Finish – Sanding with the grain produces a smoother surface.
Economy – It’s cheaper to make a surfboard out of a strip of balsa than
to use up a much thicker piece of balsa and discarding the bulk of it.
The available methods of getting balsa to bend more can
be broken down into the following sections:
Laminating – One Sided Moisture / Heat – Long Soak
With all bending operations it’s suggested that you start out
with the most flexible piece of balsa that you can obtain,
typically this is referred to as A-Grain balsa.
Stage 1 – Getting the wood flexible
Laminating
The process of using laminating to make balsa curve is based
on the principle that a thinner sheet of balsa can be curved
at a tighter radius. Using the laminating process can be a
fairly tedious one but it does produce an appealing (to some)
visual appearance. Laminating produces the strongest but
also heaviest resulting form.

One Sided Moisture / Heat
If you take a sheet or strip of balsa and dampen one side
you’ll see that in a few seconds that the balsa starts to curve
away from the dampened side. Conversely, if you apply a
hot iron to the sheet of balsa, the balsa will curve towards
the heated side. The reason why this occurs in both cases
is due to a difference in moisture content in the balsa wood
cells. The more moisture in the cell the more it expands.
In the damp application the damp side of the balsa expands
causing the sheet to curve away. With the iron application
the moisture is being driven out of the balsa cells on that
side to contract and causing the balsa to curl in.

Long Soak
You can soak the balsa in hot/warm warm water for an hour
or more (depending on the thickness). The heat is useful to
accelerate the absorption of the water into the cell structure.
Stage 2 – Setting the Shape
Once you’ve made your balsa flexible you can commence to
shape it to your needs. For simple curves, you can simply
apply the wood to the formers or suitable shape holder and
tape / hold the balsa to the required shape and allow to dry.
Even if you’re using the framework itself to form the curve,
do not attempt to glue the balsa at this stage. Wet balsa
and glue do not work together. Wait until the balsa is
completely dry. Be forewarned that this sometimes can take
a day or longer depending on the outside temperature and
the thickness of the wood. When you remove the balsa from
its former or shape holder, you’ll notice that it tends to spring
back a little bit, that is okay, it’s normal.

You can now glue your balsa.

Condensed from an article by Paul L Daniels.

slider2

The terms hardwood and softwood don’t relate to the weight or density of the wood, but to the tree type.

Hardwood trees are angiosperms (mostly deciduous in the northern hemisphere but evergreens in the southern hemisphere).

 It is the softest commercial hardwood. The trees are harvested after 6 to 10 years of growth.

The name balsa comes from the Portuguese word for “raft”. Native to southern Brazil and Mexico,

but now found in many other countries including Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

It grows extremely rapidly, up to 90 ft (30 m) in 10-15 years. The speed of growth accounts for the

lightness of the wood; balsa wood has a lower density than cork and is 20-30% less dense than

Paulownia. Balsa is very soft and light, with a coarse, open grain.

The light weight of the wood derives from the fact that the tree has large cells that contain water.

After the water is driven off in an extended drying process (kiln dried for two weeks),

the large surface area of the resulting holes gives strength yet keeps the density of the wood low.

Surfboards made from balsa have a smoother feel through the water due to the texture of the wood.

The extra weight, compared to foam, is advantageous creating momentum such as riding larger, windier waves.