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courtesy of Mike Wilson


Materials:  1/2" square balsa blank.  Choose the hardest available which can appear slightly grey in color but is easier to handle as it doesn't crumble.  It comes in 3' lengths giving you (6) 6" floats from one length.


Tools:  Scalpel and several new blades, a pen knife, a medium half round and flat file, a selection of sand paper in varying grits, wood filler and enamel paints to suit your preferences.



Step One:

Mark off lines for the top (1 1/4") and bottom (2") of the float.  In the middle is where the fluting (2 3/4") will be performed noted with three lengthwise marks for cutting.

Step Two:

Now we'll cut out the "V" flute.  Cut down the center line 1/8" deep, don't worry if the blade wanders.

Step Three:

Holding the blade at a 45 degree angle, cut down the length forming 1/2 of the "V" notch.  Flip the blank and repeat on the other side to finish the "V" groove.

Step Four:

With the blade of a pen knife dig out the wood cleaning up the notch.  Repeat for all four sides.


Important Note:  The flutes may be as thick or thin as you like.  The sides may be cut down with the blade when forming the "V" notches or shaped down with sandpaper.  If cross sectioned, the float body would resemble a crucible (cross shape). Misplaced cuts and mistakes can be "healed" with wood filler in the the finishing stages of construction.  




Step Five:

Roughly widdle down the ends to remove excess balsa in preparation for the next step.

Step Six:

A couple strokes with a half round file will produce shoulders nearest the fluting.

Step Seven:

Smooth out the shoulders and flutes with sandpaper.




Step Eight:

Flutes can be enlarged with sandpaper.  Start with heavy and progress to finer grits until the desired shape and smoothness is achieved.

Step Nine:

When you have achieve the finish you desire, skim over with a light coat of wood filler and follow up with a pass of high grit sandpaper for a super smooth and sealed surface.

Step Ten:

Paint with desired color and finish up with float caps, tubing or a bottom slip ring.



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