balsa questions...

finally ready to try my hand at some wood carving :slight_smile:

i live in north florida and was wondering what you guys think would be the best way for me to get a nice balsa blank?

if i have to i could probably glue my own. only problem would be choosing my wood…ive never worked with wood so i have no idea of what is good and what’s not

if i plan on making a little fish shape under 6 foot, what kinda money am i looking to dish out to get the wood? how much is the blank going cost me?

also, what aditional tools am i going to need? will my surform still work on taking down rails? i plan on buying a few more block planes and stuff.

what do you final sand balsa with? sand screen still?

thanks for any replys,


George Robinson in Melbourne has wood and can glue up the blank for you , but George can be a crap shoot to deal with, but still the closest to you

I bought four boards worth of balsa from George a couple of years ago. He was honest and sent the wood in a timely manner. It was however in near log form with two sides ripped (still had bark on top / bottom) and I therefore had to mill it out. Most of it was good wood, but some was heavy and pithy. He does sell shaped balsa boards and blanks. Web address is

In response to a couple of your questions: Most experienced balsa shapers find a sureform is useless on balsa. It shreds the wood and the fibers pile up in the pores of the blade. Electric planer with razor sharp blades is the way to go followed by various grits of sandpaper attached to various sizes of plywood, closed cell foam, or balsa blocks (grits 36, 60, 80,120). Some guys go up through as high as 320 gt. or so which I did on my first ones, but found the resin has better “stick” if you stop at a rougher grit. Mine get high polish and the wood still looks great sanded to only 100 or 120.

You stated you have never worked with wood. If learning about woodworking is your endeavor, go ahead and strike off toward learning by gluing up your own blank, but if ending up with a balsa board is your primary objective I’d purchase a ready to go blank. If you glue up your own blank you likely won’t expect to get a “professional” looking job, but others have been satisfied with efforts achieved without using planers, jointers, and bandsaws. I’ve never done business with them, but understand also sells balsa blanks.

You didn’t mention whether or not you’ve shaped foam boards. If not, I’d go school up big time on Carper’s “Shaping 101” video or if you really want some higher ed, memorize Phillips’ “Master Shapers” video. Watch them until you see them in your sleep before plugging in your planer and you’ll likely be several boards ahead than if you go into it without some knowledge. Enjoy the ride.


thanks you for the info!

very appreciated…:slight_smile:

i talke dot my grandfather last night. he is an amazing wood worker who lives in idaho. (exact opposite of where i am )…he gave me a couple tips on stuff.he said i could probably get away with using my planer to take down alot of the rails. he also told me a draw knife would should work well. he plans on giving me an antique one that his old man gave to him. I’m honored…

yes i have shaped foam boards befor. i am a 16 year old who was basically self taught, along side of the videos you mentioned. i am coming up on board # 25 this week. so i know the process pretty well and have some experience shaping.

thanks again for the help,


good on ya DK !!

let us know how you go !

As a 16yo, dennis is making better boards than I am at 43 , that’s for sure !

Seems to have working with foam, glassing, sanding and of late, evidently, polishing wired. Here’s one of his latest, ‘lifted’ from the " Surfer" design site : -


He has also been interviewed in a newspaper. Gotta love the guy’s go for it attitude…what was I doing at 16 ??? not making boards, that’s for sure ! [ a pity , really]


ps - I think this one from the master [Tom Weggener’s wood fish] may have been what inspired the lad from florida to take the next step…

…the wooden footwear man cometh !!


This is too funny. The board you are mentioning in this thread is the very board that will be arriving at my door step Tuesday. On top of that, Richard McCormick who gave you all that info is…My father in law. Everything comes around in one big circle. Small world isnt it DJK. Check out his boards, stellar, at Incredible balsa boards. Really looking forward to recieving that Balsa you shaped. Mahalos again.

DJK I also wanted to try my hand at Balsa a few years ago and took the bad advice to try George in melborne. I had a horrible time. He said that it would take 4-6 weeks for a blank 4-6 months later I got a blank from him that had so moch rott in it I could barly use it. I had to make inlay after inly to fill the voids. I then contacted Mario Garcia-Elias in equador and he sent me 6 pre chambered blanks for around $1200-$1400 including airfares and customs fees. It was a little scary because you send him the money and then he sends you the blanks but it beats the $450 blank I got from george. You have to remember to dicker a little and you can get a better price if you buy more than 1 at a time (shipping is allways the issue when ordering from overseas) I have since been stationed in Guam and am still riding my Balsa here. Here is a link just e-mail Mario and tell him Fish sent you he is good.

DJK good to see some younger kids on here too, there are a few of us, but it’s mostly old farts like chippy.

just playing with you older guys, us youngins’ owe you everything.

I had the same scenario. The fish blank I bought over a year ago off GR wasn’t quite par, and I recently bought a longboard blank a couple months back through Bill…who bought them through mario. This blank is MUCH better looking.

It is last on the todo list before I move out west. 4 other boards in front of it.

FWIW - I contacted Mario. He let me know that a shipment was in the works and he could cut me some slack on the shipping fees. Though it was scary sending money via wire transfer, it all worked out in the end.

I met personally with one of his representatives (no longer with the company) and accepted delivery of the blank. The rep, his uncle, a friend of mine and I all met at the Ventura Pier and had lunch.

The blank wasn’t perfect but the price was right. It provided material for my first complete balsa board. I don’t have any experience with “prime” balsa so I can’t really say what’s what with that. I was pleased with the final product and would deal with Mario again.

I’ve never dealt with George so can’t speak for him.

Mario is a physician in Ecuador and does the balsa thing as a sideline. I have had numerous email exchanges with him and hold him in high regard.…tail_page.cgi?ID=658

“but it’s mostly old farts like chippy.”

thanks for the gas compliment , Rider !

…nice to be noticed , even across the oceans ?! [Man , I must have been "blowing up big time’’ , eh?]

to quote ‘board crazy’ …

“where there is wind , there is usually a funny smell that follows …”

an old fart is just a young fart , “matured” somewhat . [Or , in my case , maybe that’s “fermented” somewhat …



Let me know how you went. Mario or ???