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Master Airscrew Balsa Stripper

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A balsa strip cutter with a blade held against a straight edge which is drawn along a sheet of wood.

Master Airscrew's Balsa Strip Cutter uses standard hobby knife blades to cut wood sheets into strips up to 1/2 inch in width.

Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

The Bottom Line

The Master Airscrew Balsa Stripper is an inexpensive hand tool which uses standard X-Acto blades to cut measured widths of balsa or other stripwoods. A thumb wheel on the right side of the bar changes the width by 1/32 of an inch for each revolution, allowing you to accurately set the blade depth away from the bar, which is drawn down the wood to make the cut. If you are going to be cutting large amounts of standard width strip wood from lighter woods, this simple tool is very handy. It needs a heavier blade to work accurately on hardwoods.


  • Inexpensive way to cut lots of stripwood (under $10)
  • Uses standard hobby knife blades, which are easily changed
  • Great if you live away from stores with particular wood widths.


  • Knife blade must be very tightly held in cutter or it tilts
  • Will cut hardwoods, but the knife blade may wander.


  • Inexpensive (under $10) way to produce accurate thin widths of wood or veneer.
  • Easily adjusted, one turn of a thumbscrew is equivalent to 1/32 of an inch.
  • Made of durable glass fiber nylon with a five year guarantee.

Guide Review - Master Airscrew Balsa Stripper

This hand held balsa strip cutter is often available in the model airplane or boat building section of hobby shops. It is a simple bar, with a turn screw that accurately sets the distance of a knife blade away from the bar which is then drawn against a length of wood to cut strips. Model airplane builders use a lot of balsa in plane construction, so a fast, simple tool that will cut accurate strip wood is a must.

The instructions recommend the strip cutter for wood up to 1/4 inch thick and strips up to 1/2 inch wide. The blade can wander slightly on harder wood, so you may need to use a different knife blade than the #11 blade suggested for balsa. Larger blades don't fit completely between the blade adjustment screws, so you may need adjust the angle of your blade carefully.

The strip cutter works well on balsa and basswood, and with care can be used on thinner sheets of hard woods like walnut or mahogany. It can be very useful for cutting a lot of similar sized strips of veneer if you are making dolls house floors. It is also useful for cutting stir sticks into usable strip lumber for scale garden fences and lattice.

It will take some practise before you get used to cutting clean lines, especially in harder woods. Start with balsa and progress up to hard woods once you understand how to control the strip cutter for accuracy.

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