Begin by taping the joined end of
the sticks to the bowing pattern.
Both sticks are formed around
the pattern, then the outer stick
released, and the inner stick taped
to the pattern.
When the sticks are well saturated, they’re removed from the water and
are ready to be formed around the pattern. Masking tape is used to hold
the wood in place while it dries.
Glues and Adhesives
To glue the pattern to the artist’s foam board or corrugated
cardboard pattern, I use Elmer’s glue stick, but you can also
use a spray adhesive such as 3M Super 77. To make the balsa
bows, medium CA glue, Elmer’s Carpenter’s glue, Titebond
woodworking glue, or Deluxe Materials Super ’Phatic glue
all work well.
Making the Bowing Patterns
To make the bowing pattern, trace or photocopy the area
of the plans for where the bows will be made—whether it is
a wingtip or stabilizer outline. Extend each end of the tracing
approximately an inch longer then the plans show for the
Trim the tracing and glue it to either 3/16-inch artist’s foam
board or corrugated cardboard. Cut out the outline using
either a hobby knife or power saw. You’ll only need to make
one bowing pattern for each set of wingtips or stabilizer tips.
Selecting the Wood
Selecting the wood for the bow is the most important part
of the process. If the wood is too soft it will kink when pulled
around a tighter radius. If the wood is either too hard or too
soft and spongy, it will snap as it’s pulled around the form, so
select a nice medium-weight, straight-grain wood to make
It takes practice to get a feel for the type of wood that works
best, but it won’t take long to figure it out. After a couple of
sets you should have a good feel for what works well.
Preparing the Wood
After the wood has been selected, use a flexible measuring
tape to measure the face of the bowing pattern. Then cut
the appropriate size wood to that length, plus 2 inches. Glue
roughly 1/4 inch of one end of the sticks together on the wide
edge. If you glue the whole thing together it won’t make the
bend around the pattern.
After all of the bow “blanks” have been made,
it’s time to soften them.
Soaking the Wood
Soak the blanks in water for 20 to 30 minutes to soften
them. If you leave them in the water until they no longer float,
the wood will be fully saturated and will bend easily around
the patterns. If you pull the wood out too soon, it will be
slightly stiff and won’t easily make the tighter turns.
Making the Bows
To make the bow, take three strips of masking tape
approximately 2 inches in length. Tape the glued end of the
blank to one end of the pattern. While maintaining pressure
on the wood as you pull it around, form both sticks around the
pattern, keeping the edges of the sticks aligned.
With both sticks pulled around the form, release the outer
stick and tape the end of the inner stick to the form at the far
end. Then apply a bead of glue to the outside of the inner stick
36 Model Aviation JULY 2017 www.ModelAviation.com