Research Sources

This discussion area is for basic structure building concepts. Not intended for advanced concepts.
*Good Example: Balsa can bend with the addition of boiling water.
*Good Example: Triangle is the strongest shape for most applications of bracing.
*Bad Example: Balsa can hold X pounds under these conditions.
*Bad Example: Use this shape for this application.
Basically I want you to think a design through with the basics instead of someone else thinking through your design for you.
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Research Sources

Post by ClarkInMI » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:09 am

This list has not been updated since 2001 when it was first compiled. I make no claims as to the availability of the various internet URLs. However, all this material was freely available from public libraries and the internet when compiled, and represents only a fraction of the type of information that is out there for use by enterprising teams. None of it contains balsa specific structure designs, but all are useful in one way or another for learning about what goes in to a successful structure design.

Structure Resources
Clark in MI, May 2001

Desch, H. E. (1968), Timber, Its structure & properties, St Martin's Press, New York.
Chapter 7, The moisture in wood, Chapter 8, The density of wood, and Chapter 9, The strength properties of wood.

Interesting facts about balsa wood, SIG brochure.
Good general purpose guide to balsa wood. Get it mail order from SIG.

Allen, B., Structure TM Guide,
Helpful structure design and assembly tips. Make sure to download related article called Balsawood Structure Design, even if it is half finished and lacking illustrations.

HairyLunch's Creative Problem Solving Page, ... cture1.htm.
More general purpose info about balsa structures.

Salvadori, M (1980), Why buildings stand up, W. W. Norton & Company, New York.
Mario Salvadori has written many books, some geared specifically for children. This one is a little more technical, but has great discussions in chapter 5, Beams and Columns, about column design and how to maximize strength through design.

Salvadori, M (1980), The art of construction, Chicago Review Press, Chicago.
One of Mario's kid oriented books. Useful for kid level discussion of beam design.,
Pictures and plans for 2 & 3 story timber water towers.

Billington, D. P. (1980's ?), The tower and the bridge, Basic Books Inc., New York.
Good pictures of real structures. The John Hancock Center external truss system is an excellent example of a diagonally cross braced structure.

Panshin, A. J., De Zeeuw, C., and Brown, H. P. (1950's ?), Textbook of wood technology, Volume 1 - Structure, identification, uses, and properties of the commercial woods of the United States, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.
Like Desch's book, Timber, Its structure & properties, an excellent discussion of wood properties. Particularly Chapter 6, The physical nature of wood, pages 238-239, Figure in wood (the source of SIG's illustration!), and pages 276-277, compression failure

There are also a lot of web based discussion pages. Among these are:

"About Balsa Wood",

"Balsa Wood Road Map",


"Destination Imagination",

"East Coast Model Center",

"Homework Center",


"OM Humor" (when you need a break),

"Building Supply, wood species library",

"SIG Manufacturing",

"The Edison OM Story Site (where I found the reference to Arlyn's guide), ... ories.html

"The ForOM",

"Virgina OM",

"Virtual Engineer",

"Official OM Site",

"Michigan OM."

"West Point Engineering Design Site",

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One More Source

Post by ClarkInMI » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:22 am

I just checked, and Jake's old web page of Balsa Structure Information is still active! You can access it here:

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Updated Resource List

Post by ClarkInMI » Tue Dec 06, 2005 1:18 pm


Jesse Weisz
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Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:48 pm

Interesting information

Post by Jesse Weisz » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:20 pm

Had just checked the link you shared and turned out really helpful. Balsa wood really has many advantages.

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