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Balsa Wood Ochroma pyramidale

A MODEL LUMBER DERIVED FROM SAPWOOD
Balsa wood is one of the few species that is commercially exploited for its sapwood. Its key qualities are buoyancy and ease of use for modelmaking. Balsa trees grow very fast, reaching 60 feet in only five years, but the tree and the lumber are very susceptible to damage.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS
Type Tropical hardwood
Other names 0. lagopus, 0. bicolor and corkwood
Sources West Indies, Central America, Ecuador Color Beige with a pinkish hue
Texture Medium to coarse and even
Grain No obvious grain
Hardness Extremely soft
Weight Very light (10 lb./cu. ft.) (160 kg/cu, m)
Strength Weak and brittle, but strong for its weight
Seasoning and stability Difficult to season as it is so full of moisture initially, and though it has to be dried quickly it must not be overheated. Stable once dry.
Wastage Used with care, wastage should be low. There are few defects, and commercially available balsa wood is usually of good quality. Beware of crushing.
Range of board widths Good
Range of board thicknesses Good
Durability Poor

VARIATIONS
The heartwood is a pale brown, but is rarely used.

SUSTAINABILITY
There is no evidence that balsa wood is endangered.

AVAILABILITY AND COST
Balsa wood is sold in small quantities and is widely available in model stores. It is expensive compared to other lumber.




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Updated: 06/2017   copyright 2011 Rowecraft