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Balsa Crank Scratchbuilding?

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I have a balsa block that I want to make a crank out of and I have a few questions id like to ask before starting. How should I mount the hooks so they don't rip off? How should I make the lip and out of what? I know I have to brush epoxy resin onto it to make it waterproof and not get all banged up. Ill do a build thread as I go along. Thanks!

-Cullen

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There are lots of ways to build crankbaits, including balsa crankbaits. The classic way to build balsa is "thru-wiring" the line tie, belly and tail hook hangers; that is, splitting the crankbait , laying a wire form in the bait for all the above, and gluing the bait together with epoxy. A couple of tips: after you cut out the basic profile of the bait, use a compass to run a center line all around from nose to tail. The line will show you exactly where the ballast goes and serves as a template for splitting the bait to insert the thru-wire. It also gives you a reference line to help you keep the bait symmetrical while you shape and round it. Symmetry and getting all the hardware centered is the critical thing about making a crankbait. Cut the lip slot immediately after the basic profile is cut, while the bait is still "square", so you know it will be straight. Use a 30 minute cure epoxy to undercoat the raw wood, then paint the bait and topcoat it with the same epoxy. Devcon Two Ton epoxy is popular for this but there are other brands too. I use 5 min epoxy to glue the halves together after inserting the thru-wire. It's easier and faster than 30 minute epoxy - but you can't use quick cure epoxy for finishing the bait because it will not level out and it will turn brown when exposed to UV light. Most home built crankbaits use polycarbonate lips (aka Lexan). You can buy sheets of polycarbonate and cut your own or you can order pre-cut lips from sources like Janns Netcraft or lurepartsonline.com. A great source for detailed info on various crankbait building techniques is tackleunderground,com, a site dedicated to lure building. Take a look at some of the tutorials for step-by-step recommendations and use the search feature on the Hardbaits forum to research specific questions you may have. Enjoy!

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Wow! Thanks for all that great info :) 2 more questions. I have found that most epoxy is rather yellow, and I imagine that would spoil the look of the bait. What brand of 30 minute epoxy is clear? Also, what wire should I use for the inner hook mounts? Thanks!

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Look on the epoxy packaging. It should say if the cured finish is clear or amber. One brand is Devcon 2-ton. Most epoxy packaging say. If it doesn't I don't buy it.

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All epoxies tend to yellow over time, some just do it very slowly. Epoxy used for topcoating crankbaits falls into 3 generic types. The first type is slow cure epoxy glue, like Devcon Two Ton. Epoxies in this category are usually advertised as forming a bond in 30 minutes. This is NOT quick cure 5 minute epoxy, which uses a different hardener, sets up too fast to brush on, cures so fast it will not level out, and turns an ugly brown quickly under UV light. The second type of epoxy is formulated for use on rod guide thread, such as Flexcoat. This type contains some solvent to penetrate thread and some brands offer UV additives to protect against yellowing (at higher cost). The 3rd type of epoxy is called "table top" or decoupage epoxy. An example is Envirotex Lite, aka ETEX. It contains solvent and is designed as a pour-on finish for bar tops and for decoupage projects.

The easiest type to use is 30 minute epoxy like Devcon Two Ton. All epoxies have to be rotated while curing until they are hard enough not to sag. Devcon reaches that state faster than the others, within an hour. Rod guide epoxies take longer, perhaps as long as 2 hours. Table top epoxies take even longer, perhaps 3-4 hours. All of the epoxies cure hard within 24 hours. Devcon is the thickest epoxy, makes a thicker film and is always a one-coat topcoat. Rod guide epoxies are similar. Table top epoxies are so thin that multiple coats are usually required to get a uniform shiny coating.

The key to a good epoxy finish is measuring the resin/hardener accurately and mixing it very well. If it says mix for 2 minutes - DO IT! Badly mixed or measured epoxy will not cure hard or will yellow more quickly. If you're using a 30 minute glue epoxy, you have about 2 1/2 minutes before it gets too thick to brush on the lure - so mix only what you can apply in that time frame. The brush times for rod guide and table top epoxies are double and triple that.

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