Wood Conditioning

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#1 Wood Conditioning

Post by Commander » Mon, 10 Sep 18, 04:27 am

As any visitor may have noticed, I seem to have an issue with fins snapping or breaking after a fall of three to four feet in the rocket bunker. This got me thinking about the balsa wood that we use for fins in model rocketry. Sometimes the density(and therefor the strength) of the wood seems a bit light. I began wondering if also the extended time it often takes me to complete builds might somehow affect the balsa wood, maybe drying it out and/or making it more brittle. I don't think that humidity has much to do with it, as we are typically humid here in Cleveland by Lake Erie, although during winter with the furnace going, I suppose it can get somewhat dry in the house. However I don't recall the sensors in the house ever showing anything below 40% humidity.

As my mind wondered and wandered over this dilemma, I had a thought. What about using a wood conditioner on the fins of the rockets before building them? The obvious next question was, what conditioner. In watching videos on woodworking on youtube, I often saw them use Boiled Lindseed Oil on projects. Now I know BLO has some inherent risk and that you need to give the rags you use with it special attention (if you recall baxk to your younger school days, during October fire safety month, the fireman would come to the school and talk about fire safety. One thing they would mention is not to leave "oily" rags laying around. The reason for that admonition is Boiled Lindseed Oil, There is a possibility that rags used for BLO application can spontaneously combust. Follow all directions on the can for rag disposal).
101_0651.JPG
Fins before Boiled Lindseed Oil
101_0651.JPG (293.68 KiB) Viewed 230 times
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Fins after Boiled Lindseed Oil
101_0653.JPG (316.26 KiB) Viewed 230 times
Do anyone else use a wood conditioner, Either Boiled Lindseed Oil or something else, before they build there rockets?
Commander
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#2 Re: Wood Conditioning

Post by Commander » Mon, 10 Sep 18, 04:28 am

I will post more about my experiences as I try this procedure.
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tmacklin
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#3 Re: Wood Conditioning

Post by tmacklin » Tue, 18 Sep 18, 18:45 pm

I have not used boiled linseed oil on balsa, but have used it on other woods such as found on gun stocks, tools and cabinetry. As it is highly viscous it tends to form a gummy surface and is often best "cut" with turpentine or mineral spirits. If you use it, ALWAYS wipe off the excess soon after application. Tung oil might be a good alternative as it is of lower viscosity and dries much faster.

I have tried Minwax Wood Hardener and it works well on balsa, as it is of low viscosity , soaks into the wood fibers and dries fast. Apply in thin coats and sand after thoroughly dry.

https://www.minwax.com/wood-products/ma ... d-hardener

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