Balsa is by far the least dense and most soft of all readily available woods. It is in a class all by itself in this regard. Although technically a hardwood, this is the softest of all woods and is in fact so soft and light that it is useless for "normal" wood usage (furniture, construction, etc.) but is outstandingly useful for model-making, especially working models of boats and planes. A uniform light tan color with straight even grain. Can be worked with a razor blade or "exacto" knife, either of which will cut right through it and leave a very clean surface. Sanding should be done only with very fine grit and a light touch.
my samples: NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K) colors will vary under other lighting conditions
both sides of a sample plank of balsa / Ochroma lagopus --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.
end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above
plank and end grain
end grain closeup of the piece directly above
plank and small piece and end grain of the larger piece
end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- BOTH shots are off a bit on the color. The closeup should be more white and less pink and the update should be more white and less greenish
both sides of a sample plank of balsa plywood / Ochroma pyramidale --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.
end grain of the piece directly above
plank listed as balsa / Ochrama spp. and with wet and dry sections
planks listed as balsa / Ochroma lagopus
planks listed as balsa / Ochroma pyramidale
flat cut planks
planks; flat cut, rift cut, quartersawn
plank --- wood is lighter than the pic makes it out to be
a set of joined planks --- color seems too dark to me
planks --- I'm not at all sure about the color on these