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A New US Indoor Balsa Wood Supplier

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2013 by propblocks

Update:

Phedon has decided to stop cutting Indoor wood as of mid-2014.

Original Post:

A new wood cutter has appeared in the US – Phedon Tsiknopoulos out of California.

There are one or two guys cutting their own wood in the US but not selling. Jeff Hood seems to have closed Hood’s Wood for now. A2Z seemed to be the sole US commercial supplier, but my last couple of orders underwhelmed- I started ordering from Nick Aikman (Greenman Balsa) and never looked back.

I always worry what would happen if Nick Aikman stopped cutting wood.

So when a post appeared on the Yahoo Indoor Construction group announcing Phedon was supplying ground Indoor balsa wood, I wanted to check his wood out.

I started to build a new wing for my F1D for USIC and realized that somehow I had left off the wood I wanted for wing spars from my last order with Nick. So I decided to try Phedon. I also ordered some tapers as Nick doesn’t cut them.

I placed an order and waited. USIC came and went – I was no longer in a hurry. We converse occasionally via e-mail. I get another email asking me to reconfirm my order. Approximately six weeks after initiating contact he tells me the final price and that the order is ready.

Phedon requests a check for payment. I send it. He sends me the balsa on a Thursday and I receive it on the next Monday.

The packaging states clearly ‘Open Here’. Two bits of tape hold the end cap in the paper tube. I shake it a bit and hear the balsa moving around. I opened it up and find the balsa separated – Four sheets of wing spar wood wrapped together and the tapers wrapped separately in what appears to be wax paper.

When I open the wood itself, it is about what I expected. The edges are not dressed – The wood was cut at an angle and the angle appears on the edge of the wood. The wood is not labeled with weight or thickness. The surface of the wood appears to be extremely smooth. The wood is within 0.001″ of what I ordered, of very consistent thickness, and in the density range specified.

So how does it compare to Greenman Balsa?

Pros: He cuts tapers to order and they are within 0.002″ of what I ordered. The thin ends vary slightly, but this I can live with.
We have another US supplier.
Wood supplied is within the density range I specified.

Cons: Shipping is not up to the standard set by Nick Aikman. Nick uses thicker tubes, ends are quite securely taped and the wood is sandwiched between thicker balsa, taped carefully together and usually wrapped in bubble-wrap or packed with balsa triangles.
Nick takes PayPal versus check.
Phedon’s prices are higher, although offset somewhat by ‘free’ shipping/insurance.
Shipping took longer than I would have liked.
Two of the tapers have an odd grain to them.

Phedon's wood tapers

Phedon’s wood – Two of the tapers have an odd grain pattern. Time will tell if these are suitable for prop spars.

Phedon's wood - Two of the clean tapers have this odd drawing maybe on the back.

Phedon’s wood – Two of the clean tapers have this odd drawing maybe on the back.

Phedon's wood - Top side of two of Phedon's tapers

Phedon’s wood – Top side of two of Phedon’s tapers

Phedon's wood

Phedon’s wood

Phedon's wood

Phedon’s wood

Example of non-dressed edge on Phedon's wood

Example of non-dressed edge on Phedon’s wood

Phedon's wood - note angle on lower front right edge and odd discoloration in middle.

Phedon’s wood – note angle on lower front right edge and odd discoloration in middle.

Phedon's wood

Phedon’s wood

Phedon's wood - Another example of non-dressed edge.

Phedon’s wood – Another example of non-dressed edge.

Packaged in wax paper, loose in thin-walled shipping tube.

Packaged in wax paper, loose in thin-walled shipping tube.

No need to guess where to start.

No need to guess where to start.

Laid out on the table - Micrometer ready for testing.

Laid out on the table – Micrometer ready for testing.

Now for some pics of balsa from Greenman Balsa as a comparison.

Sheets from Greenman Balsa as a comparison

Sheets from Greenman Balsa as a comparison

Sheets from Greenman Balsa as a comparison

Sheets from Greenman Balsa as a comparison

Shipping tube from Greenman Balsa as a comparison

Shipping tube from Greenman Balsa as a comparison

After removing from the tube, Greenman balsa sheets packaging.

After removing from the tube, Greenman balsa sheets packaging.

This detail impressed me - Tape folded over in a tab to easily remove the shipping balsa tapers. Every tape strip is like this. Nick Aikman's attention to detail is quite impressive.

This detail impressed me – Tape folded over in a tab to easily remove the shipping balsa tapers. Every tape strip is like this. Nick Aikman’s attention to detail is quite impressive.

My wife and I have a sort of ritual in new restaurants: We ask ourselves “Would we go here again?”

I am pretty happy with what I received. Phedon may not replace Greenman as my go-to guy for balsa, but I now have a source of tapers I am happier with.

To answer the question, yes, I would order from Phedon again.

Phedon Tsiknopoulos [phedon21t@yahoo.com] is his contact info.

Regards.
Mike Kirda

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One Response to “A New US Indoor Balsa Wood Supplier”

  1. Tragically, Phedon perished in a fire at his home in July 2014.

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