I made some ties


Armed with a fresh sheet of balsa and my trusty balsa stripper, I have just finished making up one heck of a pile of ties. The process couldn’t be simpler. I’m starting with balsa sheet. Instead of cutting individual ties to length, I find it easier to cut the sheet to length, matching the length of my ties. I can then rip these into individual ties using the balsa stripper. Since the tool manages the width of each tie, the only really careful work is dividing the sheet by length. In all, I find it relaxing work. I figure I cut about a thousand ties this evening and this brings me another step closer to getting some track in place.


    1. Hi Hunter

      I’ve been using balsa for ties, following pretty much the same process, for quick some time and for about as long as I’ve been handlaying track. It doesn’t hold spikes at all and you need to be careful around it when soldering but otherwise it’s been fine. I typically use these to fill in the gaps between copperclad ties.

      The last time i used them in HO scale was for my Bush Terminals micro, which I’ve since given away. Photos of track built using these ties alongside copper ones appear in this post:

      Great to hear from you. I’ve been following along with progress on your layout and it’s coming together very nicely.


  1. Chris;
    Thanks for this post. The next step in my 0 scale experience is to make some tangent track and a switch. I found the balsa stripper thanks to Professor Klyzlr on one of his posts on RMWeb and bought it. I like your idea of pre-making the tie strips and then cutting the ties from that strip.

    1. Hi Andrew

      Cutting the sheet balsa to length first and then ripping it into ties really works for me. I feel like it results in a more consistent tie compared to cutting them from strips. I also find it quite a quick process. Let me know how you get along.


    1. Thanks Andrew. The balsa stripper I use was manfuactured by Midwest. I have given a few away over the years and actually worn one out completely. It’s a very handy tool to have around.


    1. The short answer is something like “it’s pretty much all I could get here on the Island”. Frankly, I’ve used a lot of balsa in that capacity for that reason alone. It doesn’t hold spikes at all and you really need to be careful around it when waving a soldering iron around. That said, I find it easy to work with, in particular when ripping it into ties as I did yesterday.



      1. Fair enough. I would have thought the grain would be pretty heavy for N-scale. The stuff also disappears quickly if you hold a piece of sanding paper nearby; but as with the soldering iron, I guess you must simple be careful so the ties don’t come out like a roller coaster after sanding.

      2. I think the grain problem is an issue with most species options. I tend to believe that in N grain is just too small to be visible.

        Where I have to be careful during sanding is to make sure I don’t accidentally take the ends if the ties off. It’s easy to sand along the ties and round them out. I’d have this problem with any wood tie but with something as soft as balsa I just have to be that much more careful.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s