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A2Z Balsa Stripper Review by Mike Kirda

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2012 by nicholasandrewray

A2Z Balsa stripper

The stripper itself comes with two micrometer head assemblies, a bar of aluminum, a length of self-healing mat, a blade holder, one sealed straight scalpel blade and a copy of instructions. The buyer is to provide the base. I used a bit of ¾” light MDF as I had some leftover from building my model bench.

The base was sliced about 7” wide by 24” long. I vacuumed the top surface and attached the self-healing mat using the tape provided. Attaching the micrometer heads was a matter of lining the head up to the bottom, then using the two screws to mark the pilot holes. I drilled them out using a cordless drill and attached them to the base with the provided screws. So far, everything is great.

I proceeded to extend the micrometer heads out fully. One extends easily, the other does not. I grabbed a bit of silicone grease and spread it onto the threads. After a full retraction and extension again, there was very little change in the feel. I proceeded to remove the assembly and remove the threaded rod entirely. Looking inside, I could see that the threads were not as clean as they should be. Luckily I had the correct tap, ¼” x 20. A quick full tap in and out and some of the plastic came right out. I cleaned up some of the edges with an X-Acto blade and then reassembled the unit adding a bit of silicone grease again. This time the micrometer moves easily. Using a tissue to clean the grease, I grabbed the threads lightly and extended the rod fully.

Attaching the blade is simple, provided you have the needed 5/64” hex driver. It would be better if A2Z provided one. I used a Candidius blade sourced from A2Z. Truing up the side on a sheet of balsa, you can sight down the edge of the aluminum straightedge. Back off both heads three full turns, move the straightedge, then draw the blade along the edge. The feel is smooth and almost effortless. The resulting edge is smoother and straighter than anything you can achieve with a normal Master Airscrew stripper.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive and works very easily after a bit of cleanup.
  • Blade holder works very well.
  • Tapers are easy to make.

Cons:

  • No hex driver provided.
  • Mat has tape on it and this produces bumps in the surface. The mat without tape on it would be better. If you are not careful in placement of your wood, the blade holder can ride at an angle and provide perfectly trapezoidal cross-sections. 

Hint: Make more holes so you can position the micrometers exactly where needed. It is easier to cut 9” tapers when the micrometers are 9” apart. 

Mike Kirda 

2 Responses to “A2Z Balsa Stripper Review by Mike Kirda”

  1. Tim Goldstein has a nice calculator for tapers. I set my micrometers 20″ apart and I use a spreadsheet with his formula to figure out all of my tapers. The key is to make sure the sheet is centered between the micrometers. http://indoorduration.com/BalsaStripperCalc.asp

    Also, I would echo your sentiments on the tape for the mat. I’m going to peel mine up and reattach it with contact cement or spray adhesive to avoid the bumps.

  2. Two small updates to this article:
    1) Use 1″ thick wood.
    2) Make sure the threaded rod is just barely above the mat during assembly.

    This will make the cuts more accurate. You do not want to be able to put wood under the threaded rod.

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