General material guide for Footies

While I’m stocking up on balsa and ply for the winter, I wasn’t quite sure of what & how much of each to get. How much means to build a Footy hull. The whole point is to get an idea of the which thicknesses work for which applications (like twisted panels, or flat, structural panels) and how much to buy so you don’t necessarily run short.

I would recommend having one or two sheets of 1/8" and 1/4" balsa on-hand for miscellaneous things like bulkheads, servo & radio mounting, etc.

To start:

1/8" balsa for bulkheads, deck
– 6x36 inch sheet

1/16" balsa for fairly flat side panels, top or bottoms
– 6x36 inch sheets, and is good for 1 Footy, with some to spare.

1/32" balsa for twity panels, or ultralight builds
– 6x36 sheet, should be good for 1 footy, with spare

what about plywood? stick with 1/32" (stronger) or 1/64" (twistier) ? Is a 12x48" sheet good for a few Footies?


Tomohawk: thats good advice

However, I would like to add to this advice, i’s is beneficial to “haggle”

Bill likes to use the thinner, stuff, I think.

How many razors (a typical hull size) could you get from a 12x48" sheet of 1/32" ply?

I have found the 1/64 ply very easy to work with. It is heavy (about the same as 1/16 balsa), but much stronger, and bends very easily.

Walt H.

my question is, where do you get this 1/32" ply?? the hardware store?? or like a specialty wood store?? my LHS has nothing of the sort, and they dont understand why I would want it.

Or alternativly 2 mm + 3 mm depron + a little epoxide.


What does 2 mm + 3 mm depron mean?

I gotta look into Depron! Besides when U buy steaks, that is (which is too small anyway, IMO.)

But so far it looks like Depron is mainly in 20mm+ thick sheets for insulating houses. More research needed…

thx mate

My LHS (Hobbytown USA) can get it (1/32 or 1/64) for me, but I’ll have to order a bunch, or the first sheet would cost $115! with 5 sheets free :smiley: Seems like a lot of $$$ to get started on a Footy, which is supposed to be “inexpensive” unless you get some friends in on the order.

BalsaUSA is about the same cost…

Hence, why I’m inquiring what sizes & quantities you’ll want on hand for building Footy(ies.)


I was able to procure thin ply at

Walt H is a big supplier of bulk balsa & plywood, plus glue and other building materials- even large-scale ( 1/3 scale) airplane kits.

Micheals craft stores has balsa and ply… to find a store near you…

Let’s get back on topic…

What kind of stock (balsa, ply, depron, etc.) are you using for building Footies, and how much do you get per unit (sheet, square, etc.)

Sources for the stuff can be another topic


Michaels, a store mainly for the ladys, usually has a good assortment of ply and balsa, 1/64th & up.


I have found that my local green grocer has Satsuma’s delivered in light ply crates that are stapled to triangular corner posts so they can stack without crushing the fruit.

It’s a bit fiddly to get the ply off and I’m not sure what type of wood this is
The wood is about 3 to 4 mm thick and sands very well.

Keels and rudders are just fine made from this and when given a coat of instant varnish ~ waterproof.

In fairness this might be a bit thick and coarse for hulls and decking but for most other things its ok. Best of all its FREE ~ I have nicknamed it Satsuma wood

does this mean that even if we go michaels to pick up “lumber” for our “boats” we can claim that we are in touch with our feminine side???:stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know about that, but I do know that your “Lady” won’t mind going shopping with you. :graduate:


I’m going to order some 6mm carbon tubes for rigs.

How many and what lengths would be good to buy? I think the kite supply places have 6mm in 32 inch (80cm) lengths. If you assume a mast is about 22 inches (56cm) then 4-6 lengths should keep you in rigs for a while.

I’d also buy some 100 LB.(50kg) test line.



“Midwest” seem to now carry a line of carbon rods, sheets, tubes, etc… all about 24" long - 6mm hollow rods!!

I have gotten a footy hull from one 4" x 36" sheet balsa (just nest it right!)

3 decks from the 2nd sheet…

Numerous keels & rudders from a 4 x 12 sheet of ‘birch ply’

K&S for brass tubes, 1/8", 5/32" x 12" x 0.014" wall…

6mm is ok…my tallest rig is 32" from the deck and its 5.3mm od 3.4mm id and its plenty stiff its the carbon fiber pultruded tube from Midwest products

I have 3mm on my boom/club and it is plenty stiff Probably stiff enough to do a free standing rig @24 inches when I get My microyacht I’m going 3-4 mm

be careful with the the 100lb test. I have 65# for my running rigging on all my boats and its is pretty stiff. in the light air on my footy my main and jib did not want to open up real easy. so I’m going to go get a spool of 10-15# for the running rigging on the footy and then try again in a couple weeks.

I use te heavy line because the pulleys like it. Thin line sometimes jumps off the sheave. The heavier line also negotiates the hole in the sailwinch arm and the fairlead nicely, and is good for tying knots.