Balsa Help

Ok i have an extremely poorly shaped balsa board that is going to be made into a surf shop counter top. Question is…Since the board is not gonna be used or outside, can i glass it with poly resin? If so what preparation would need to be taken. The top will be glassed only. What glassing schedule would you use? It has to be strong enough to hold cash registers, kids pounding on it etc. Any Ideas, Help, Warnings are welcome. Thanks so much.

Austin S.

Sure, you can glass it with poly.

I’d glass both sides, though. You basically want it watertight, otherwise seasonal differences in temperature & humidity will cause it to expand & contract and if its only half-glassed, that will happen in weird ways. You’ll end up cracking off the glass you did put on.

Someone asking for my help? Just kidding…

I would brush a first filler-coat using laminating resin with some styrene in it to make it more flowing and penetrate the wood better. Then glass with double 10 oz, hot-coat, sand, then apply one or two coats of polyurethane varnish (the two-components variety is the one used to protect wooden floors and it’s really tough, much tougher than PE.)

Although it’s not balsa, here’s my own walnut/mahogany bar. Just polyurethane varnish, of course, no need to glass that.

looks great balsa. Thanks for all the help. So the only cloth i have thats close to 10 oz would be 8oz volan. Should i use that? Or could i get away with regular 6oz? Thanks.

Austin S.


double 8 oz should do the job just fine. After all, none of your customers are going to come in with hammers, right? It also depends a lot upon the balsa density: the lighter it is, the softer it is , too. If it’s a bit on the heavy side, that’s fine. Anyway, that polyurethane varnish is a really hard shell against scratches and blows. The glass should take care of compression dings such as might be caused by elbows when your customers bury their heads in their hands: “Oh no! Don’t tell me my board isn’t ready yet!” (Just kidding…)

Have you considered not to even use fiberglass? If the unsupported span of wood as your counter top is not massive you could probably put a coat of epoxy and maybe a second coat top and bottom and have a well protected counter. If you dont have epoxy use your polyester and put a gloss coat on also. I would think the strength is already in the balsa blank and now you just need to protect it. Why waste the cloth if you don’t need to? BTW your boards look very nice.

I’ve gotta admit I’m feeling a little sad for the wood reading this thread :frowning:

I know you said the blank is poorly shaped…surely it can be remade into a shorty…a girl’s board…s grom’s first semi-gun…even a tow board. Rip it into 1/8" thick strips and bag a Bert/CMP special or three. Heck, use it for 2" wide stringers and a thousand nose & tail blocks.

Then make the counter out of a harder, heavier lookalike like bass or birch or even ash or poplar (if you can find some that’s not gray or green, respectively)…balsa is just so nice for surfboards :slight_smile:

Hey benny,

The wood is not mine to do what i want with. It is for a shop, not for my own shop. I would use the wood to make some sweet stuff if i had the choice, but i don’t.

Austin S.

Ok, well, at least my opinion of you is intact and solid :wink: I thought it was for your own shop…

8 oz & poly resin will be plenty…