Model Rocket Fin Finishing Tips?

I'm looking for tips on finishing balsa fins. The last time I built a model rocket was back in high school in the 70's. Back then I used model dope
sealer and coated and sanded the fins until smooth. I just read on the web other tips involving gluing paper or other materials to the fins instead. What is the best to do now-a-days and how do you do it?
Steve ...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I forgot to mention I'm building the Estes Orbital Transport that was re-released a year to so ago. I don't want to mess it up since I don't see it in stores any more. Thanks in advance....

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ikaros wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've used Behlen's lacquer sanding sealer with good results. It sprays on easily, dries fast, and is easy to sand. I've found it in stores that cater to woodworkers like Woodcraft. Once the grain is filled (or I think it is filled) I apply Plastikote spot filling primer. Any remaining grain will be really obvious and you can keep sanding and priming until it's gone.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Some people swear by gluing paper to balsa, but for a small, delicate model like the OT this is going to be (1) difficult, (2) heavy, and (3) probably won't look that good.
Dope sanding sealer is still widely used. You can also experiment with tissuing. Dope the balsa, then sand smooth, to remove fuzzies and dirt. Then apply sheets of model airplane tissue, adhering with thinned dope. Apply one or two more light coats of thinned dope to fill the weave of the tissue, drying thoroughly and smoothing with very fine sandpaper between coats.
On a model as complex as the OT though, tissuing will require lots of time and patience. My personal recommendation would be to just use sanding sealer.
Oh almost forgot... another product worth trying is Elmer's Fill N Finish, it's a spackle-like product for filling holes in wood. Many people swear by thinned FNF (it's water based). I think for smaller models, dope sanding sealer is better though.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've used FNF both as-is (rub it in until it dries) and thinned to a glue-like consistency and painted on. I've had good results following that with Bondo Sandable Primer, recoat in 5 minutes, sandable in 30.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Emler fill n finish, then some kind of lacquer based sanding sealer, then BINS primer, then paint. If this doesnt get all the grains and spirals you're doing something wrong. remember to sand between coat. Oh and by the way elmer fill n finish is not water resistant at all, do NOT wet sand them. In fact only wet sand after several coats of sanding sealer... with BINS primer you should be able to use something like 400 grit 3M Fre-cut sandpaper (should be available at home depot) without having to wet sand anyways. After dry sanding use a slightly damp tissue paper or cloth to whipe the sanding dust off, dont need to use "tack cloth" because it oftentimes leaves a sticky mess behind....
-- TAI FU http://creationism.dyndns.org /
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snip
For something like that, after the fillets are finished, I apply a thin coat of Elmer's wood glue. Yep, the same stuff I used for the fillets. You only have to sand it once and it makes the fins stronger. Usually 2 light coats of paint will cover like glass.
Randy www.vernarockets.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thank you all very much for your suggestions!
Steve

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You're welcome, and welcome back to the hobby!
p.s. check out the online rocketry forum www.rocketryforum.com, it's a great source of info on rocketry, and home to lots of Born Again Rocketeers, too.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks Vince for the interesting rocketry forum link, I feel born again already! I'll logon and participate when I can.
Steve

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I use Minwax High Performance Wood Hardener before the FNF...
(there ya go Gene!)
It seals the balsa very nicely, and prevents the water based FNF from warping the fins. It's especially useful on models that have large slabs of balsa that are prone to warping... Estes Sidewinder for example.
Tod "Don't spill it on a vinyl floor tho!" Hilty
--
Tod A. Hilty
Hilty Information Systems
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.