Timber Treatment

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This tutorial will give you the details on how to treat balsa wood to be used in half-timber types of buildings. In addition, other wooden objects such as doors, stairs, shutters, tables, chairs, beds, and many other objects can be made using this technique. Please feel free to print, copy, or reproduce this tutorial in any form. No fees of any kind are required, but a simple credit listing would be appreciated. Enjoy!

Materials - Picture of materials Finished Examples Description of Materials

Balsa wood strips can be found at hobby stores including HobbyTownUSA(somewhat expensive). Hobby Haven, a local hobby shop which specializes in model trains is my preferred vendor. Depending on the project various widths and thicknesses will be needed. I recommend picking at least two strips of all of the various sizes (this may drive the cashier nuts...) so you can find your favorite sizes then go back and stock up on those which you will use often. The 1/8x1/16 inch is what I use primarily for the half-timber walls.

Liquitex Dark Walnut stain can be found at various craft stores such as Michael's. It is somewhat expensive, but I happened to pick some up one day and the results were fabulous. In theory any sort of wood stain could work - stay away from the toxic and oil based stuff though.

Apple Barrel Colors Territorial Beige to provide highlights

Timber Treatment Steps

  1. The balsa strips usually come in three foot sections. Treat the entire strip at once rather than cutting it up at this point. Doing so makes the process go much faster and is a bit less messy. Using the hobby knife, carefully trim off some of the square edges of the balsa strip. [image]
  2. Using the hobby knife, cut gouges out of the front and the sides if the strip is more than 1/16th inch thick. Cuts of different lengths and depths in random intervals along the strip look best. [image]
  3. Using the sponge brush, liberally apply the stain to about six inches of the balsa strip. Staining long sections at a time allows too much stain to be absorbed by the balsa yielding very dark results.
  4. Holding the balsa strip at the end in one hand, take the paper towel and grasp the whole balsa strip. Push the paper towel away from the hand grasping the balsa. Do not pull towards the hand or the strip will likely break.
  5. Continue the process of applying and wiping the stain until the whole strip has been stained. [image]
  6. Cut the strip to appropriate lengths for the job to be done. Sometimes measurements will not be exact so it is best to cut the balsa as it is needed, measuring each piece by placing it in the area it is needed and marking the cut lines. This helps the pieces fit better together than measuring each piece out with a ruler.
  7. Glue the cut pieces to the structure or together (depending on the project) as they are cut.
  8. Touch up any visible ends with the stain and wipe any excess off with the paper towel.
  9. Lightly drybrush with Territorial Beige in the 'well traveled' areas and/or on corners.

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Resources Questions? Comments? Email me at: ryan@skow.org