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Balsa Wood

Balsa wood is the lightest and softest of all the commercial; timbers.  Balsa is technically a hard-wood.  It botanical name is Ochroma pyramidale.  Balsa is native to the tropical forests of central America from Mexico to Brazil, it is ow grown commercially in other tropical areas including Papua New Guinea.

Balsa has an air dried density ranging from 50kg per cubic metre to 400 kg per cubic metre, how-ever most commercial balsa is in the range of 110 to 170 kg per cubic metre.  It is not resistant to rot or decay.  

Balsa glues satisfactorily, but it is unsuitable for steam bending.

It is used for model making, insulation, floats, rafts, composite core stock, surfboards.  It has been used extensively in conjunction with fibreglass reinforced p-lastics for boat construction, although when the plastic plymer is polyester or vinyl ester, the permeability of those plastics leads to weight gain as the balsa absorbs moisture.

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