- Balsa Wood (3mm thick x 10cm wide x 45cm length (approx))
- Card (from a Cereal Packet will be fine)
- PVA glue
- Sharp Craft Knife
- Ballpoint Pen (Black is best)
- Cutting Mat
- Steel Ruler
- Old Paint Brush
- Container to Mix Glue in
You can either read all of the steps below, or watch this handy video!
Step 1 Cut out a Gable End. Measure a 9cm length from the balsa wood. Mark a straight line perpendicular to the long edge. Use the steel ruler to guide the craft knife along the line. Many gentle cuts are better than a few hard ones (and are less lightly to result in loss of fingers!).
Step 2 Make a peak on the Gable End. Start by marking a point 5cm (the wall will be 5cm tall) up the 9cm side. Do the same on the opposite site. Now mark a point 5cm along the 10cm wide top. This will be the peak of the roof. Draw straight lines between the 10cm marks and the peak. Again use the rule and knife to remove these triangles.
Step 3 Make another Gable End. Repeat steps 1 and 2. You now have both Gable Ends done and the hardest bit is done!
Step 4 Make the Long Walls. Mark and cut a 12cm length from the Balsa wood. Now cut this 12cm x 10cm piece lengthways to make two walls 5cm x 12cm. You should now have all of the walls of the building.
Step 5 Make the Structural Supports. If you attempt to glue the edges of walls directly they will be quite fragile. One option would be to make card supports (either inside or outside) by bending a piece of appropriately sized card through 90° If you are using them card on the outside of the building you may want to paint it up to look like metal. Punching out a few card rivets would help with the look.
The option I used for the building pictured above can be achieved pretty simply. I cut a 5cm piece from the balsa (making a 5cm x 10cm piece). By cutting along the grain (which is very easy to do) I cut a 5mm (i.e. 0.5cm) strip. I make three other pieces so there is one for each corner. These will be internal supports. The building above has external ones too,
but they aren’t necessary for support.
Step 6 Score the Wooden Beams. This can be done after the building is assembled, but it’s easier to do now. Using the ballpoint pen mark the wobbly edges to wooden planks by drawing straight lines freehand along the grain of the balsa wood. Roughly parallel lines about 1cm apart look good. Do this on each of the four pieces of wood.
Step 7 Assemble the Basic Structure. Start by gluing the supports to the inside of the long walls. They should be positioned 3mm from the short edge, parallel to that edge. There should be two supports on each long wall, located at the far ends of the wall. Once the glue has set a little brush glue down the right angle made by the support and the wall. The Gable End will connect here. Be careful not to use too much glue as any visible glue will effect the final paint job. Glue all four corners.
Step 8 Making the Roof. Measure the length of the fall of the roof, or work it out using Hypothenuses theorem √52+42 = ~6.5cm. You’ll need a piece of card about 13cm x 12cm in size. Bend it down the middle and glue it to the top of the structure. Take another piece of card and cut a load of approx 1cm x 1cm tiles. Starting at the bottom of the roof glue these in rows, with a slight overlap between tiles. For the top cut a 12cm x 3cm strip. Divide it lengthwise and cut 0.5-1cm cuts along it. Glue this to the crest of the roof.
Step 9 Details. Doors and windows are pretty easy. Cut 3mm strips from a piece of balsa and cut them to length for a door frame. Cut a small piece for the door handle and glue all of the pieces in place. For a window, cut a piece of card the required size and them make a frame for the window from balsa.
Step 10 Painting. I undercoated the house with black spray, then painted it brown and highlighted with a lighter colour. I drybrushed the roof with a dark grey and that’s it!
So, that turned out longer than expected, but trust me, it’s cheap easy to build your own balsa houses. Go on, give it a go.