Going to try cutting balsa sheet stock on my XL, any tips or tricks?

I’ve got some 1mm upcut endmills, intended for PCB I think, and a 1/8 collet for the DeWalt router.

The stock I want to cut ranges from 1/8’ thick to 5/32" thick.

I am planning to use the blue-tape+CA work holding strategy, and to leave tabs in the through cuts.

Does any of that sound really wrong? Any advice one what I ought to do to maximize chances of success?

Any ideas on the best way to fillet/chamfer this material would also be appreciated.


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Balsa is so soft I’m inclinded to think it might not mill so well. But I’d be excited if it does–I’ll look forward to hearing whatever you find out. Best of luck with it!

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I think a drag knife may end up being your best option for cutting Balsa.

There are a few plans out there for making your own or you could buy the one from Donek Tools (which is admittedly a bit pricy).

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As an occasional user of CA adhesive I wouldn’t like to use it with Balsa wood particularly 1/8" or so thick. I think you might have difficulty in getting the piece off the baseboard without breaking.

I echo @Kopah - I’d use a drag knife. I have a Donek D3 that I’ve used with paper and thin cardboard with decent results, but you’d need a D2/D4 for the thickness you’re cutting.

The price of the Donek tools is steep, and depending on the complexity of your cuts, you might need to additionally invest in SheetCAM to get decent results. The Excel gcode corner-action tool that Donek distributes has some limitations with complex tool paths.

I will be watching this thread with interest to see if you’re able to get good results with normal milling!

Yeah! No fooling. I might get a new endmill for this project…,

I use a Rockler 1/8 " straight Bit, 1/2 " long double flutes, 1/4" Shank. #34780
#6 on my Makita, soft wood in Carbide Create. The cut is very smooth and just a few fibers at
the bottom of the cut. I only use the blue tape and ca–no tabs. Champering and round overs,
I do on a router table. Using a very sharp razor, takes many fine cuts not to tear the wood, I do not
see a drag knife working very well.

Good to see some else working with balsa.

How thick is the stock you cut with the 1/8" bit?

I’ve got a Freud 1/16 straight double flute, but I figured it’d tear up balsa.

1/8", 3/32", and once in a while 1/4" &1/16"

Thanks. I’ll give it a try.