What Is Balsa Wood For Dollhouse Furniture And Miniatures And What Are The Advantages?

In the series of tutorials and how to do things, today we will be asking and answering the question: “What is balsa wood” and why this is used for dollhouse furniture and miniatures?

Also, I will be going over the pros and cons of this crafting material in the dollhouse and miniature world.

I don’t think there is not much else to say as an intro, so let’s dive right into it;-)

Updated 04/12/23

What Is Balsa Wood and is it good for dollhouses and miniatures?


Balsa wood is the lightest kind of wood that is commonly available in craft stores, at six to nine pounds per cubic foot, and perfectly suitable to craft miniatures, in my opinion! (also check out the pros and cons below in this article)

I had to do some research myself because I honestly didn’t know exactly what it was. It seems that the word ‘Balsa’ is derived from the Spanish word for a raft. This refers to an early application: it is a light type of wood that floats well.

This wood is made from a deciduous tree, this is why it is considered to be hardwood and is mostly grown and produced in Ecuador.

The core of the wood has a light brown color but usually, the sapwood is used which has a silver-grey-white color with a red-yellow cast. The wood feels satiny.

To avoid blue mold, the tree trunk needs to be sawn and dried after felling.

The reason why balsa wood is so light, according to this website, is because of the bigger cells and very thin walls. And also lignin is at a minimum in this wood.

Are you bored at this point (I can imagine)? Maybe try another blog post of mine, how about plenty of miniature pictures on Instagram and my top favorite designers lol. ๐Ÿ™‚

Who Uses Balsa Wood In the dollhouse and miniatures world?

Balsa wood is popular in model building, of course, that is because of the importance of it being lightweight.

You might not expect this (I didn’t), but it is also used for real-size airplanes. The Havilland Mosquito, for example, was known as the “wooden wonder” and was introduced in the second world war.

Take a look at the video below, where this kid made a model airplane from balsa wood, love it!

This latter had a skin of balsa wood sheets, combined with Canadian birch sheets.

Furthermore, it can also be used as insulation, artificial limbs, splints, table tennis bats, window frames, carving, and in these modern times even in the blades of windmills.

And guess what, our dollhouses and miniatures, of course!

Don’t Confuse Balsawood With Basswood.

Basswood is also lightweight and soft, like balsa wood. Here comes the but: it is a hardwood and it is not as light as the latter.

That being said, it wouldn’t crack and split like balsa wood and it doesn’t accept screws either, it just gets glued together.

The reason I am not writing more about basswood is simply that I have never worked with it before. Well, that is actually not true, as my treehouse is made from leftover wood from my real size house lol.

But other than that, I have always used balsa wood, because I tend to find it more easily in smaller quantities in crafting stores (we don’t need much wood for our miniatures, do we?) and of course, a smaller price.

I am not going to say if you should use one or the other, I can imagine that basswood has its advantages as well, like not splintering, aaargghh ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Three Types Of Balsa Wood.

There are three different grain types of Balsa wood.

  • Type A-grain sheets are showing long grain lines, and that is because it has the longest fibers. It is very flexible and bendable around corners, but also warps easily. This means that when you soak it in water, you can even form a tube with this type of wood. Without splitting! (nice, heu?)
  • Type B-grain wood is the most common and is considered the most suitable for model making.

    It is more like a combination of type A and type C.

    It kind of feels more stiff than type A and the grain lines are shorter. Do not use this if you feel like the other types would do a better job!

  • Type C-grain is very stiff and splits easily, but is the most warp resistant type.

Thรฉ Problem With Balsa Wood When Crafting A Dollhouse Or Miniatures.

This paragraph will be short, very short. Balsawood splinters and breaks easily! Period. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway: The Pros And Cons Of Balsa Wood when using it for dollhouses and miniatures.

The good and the bad :

The Good.

  • Very soft wood, but at the same time strong
  • is the lightest wood on the market
  • you can just ‘push’ a whole in the wood, no need for heavy tools
  • it can float
  • contains very few liquids
  • Balsa wood is quite cheap
  • because it comes from a fast-growing tree, it is widely available. If you have a crafting store in your neighborhood, chances are that they have it.
  • it is easy to sand. Sometimes too easy, in my opinion. Or maybe I use too much force at once lol
  • It is available in a wide range of densities, sizes, and thicknesses.

The Bad.

  • Balsa wood doesn’t seem to be very sustainable
  • it is not bendable or flexible. To bend it, you would need to soak or steam the wood over a boiling pot of water, for example. When it gets wet, the fiber becomes more flexible and only then could you bend the wood.
    When it is dried out, it remains the shape that you made from it.
  • Screws don’t work all too well on balsa wood, this is the reason why it is mostly glued together.
  • As said above, it splits, cracks, breaks, and splinters quite easily. And no, I’m not the only one saying this ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • the weight of the wood can vary according to weather conditions because it can take up a lot of humidity ร nd dry out quickly. Even after your piece of work is finished, so you need to keep that in mind.

treehouse 34

=> Balsawood used for the floor of my treehouse.

A Few More Things To Consider About Working With Balsa Wood For Your Miniatures.

  • Working with balsa wood doesn’t require the use of heavy powertools like a jigsaw or router tool. Just using a crafting knife, so a very sharp and fine knife can do the trick. (always try and keep some extra blades for your knife, they go dull quite quickly).

    You could even use small metal files or a Dremel to mill.
  • In theory, any kind of paint can be used for balsa wood, but I mostly use acrylic paint for my miniature furniture and others.
    It would be a good idea though to give your model a primer coat, just to close the pores, and less paint gets sucked in.
  • Another good thing would be to sand in between layers of paint, to get the best result.
  • Regarding what glue to use, opinions can vary in the miniature or model world.
    Lots prefer wood glue, but unless you use a small bottle, I sometimes get too much glue at once from a big bottle.

    Using super glue is fine, but you have to make sure that you can hold the pieces without gluing your fingers together as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Personally, I still prefer tacky glue, depending on the fact that pieces need to stick together quickly or not, unless of course if you can use small clamps. (keep in mind that tacky glue needs some time to dry, but it does ‘stick’ together).
  • You will need sanding blocks or sanding paper.


Finally, would you like to see this fantastic log cabin in miniature size, made from popsicle sticks and balsa wood sticks? I found it to be amazing!


Storage considerations for balsa wood


Proper storage of balsa wood is crucial to maintain its quality and prevent issues such as warping or damage. Here are some storage considerations for balsa wood:

  1. Flat Storage:
    • Store balsa wood sheets, planks, or pieces flat whenever possible. Storing them vertically or leaning against a surface may lead to warping over time, especially if the pieces are exposed to uneven pressure or moisture.
  2. Climate Control:
    • Balsa wood is sensitive to changes in humidity. Extreme fluctuations in humidity can cause the wood to expand or contract, leading to warping. Aim to store balsa wood in a climate-controlled environment with stable humidity levels. Avoid storing it in damp basements or areas prone to temperature extremes.
  3. Avoid Direct Sunlight:
    • Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can lead to discoloration and degradation of balsa wood. Store it away from windows or other sources of intense sunlight to preserve its natural color and integrity.

Project ideas related dollhouses and miniatures made by balsawood.


Balsa wood is a versatile material that lends itself well to a variety of craft projects, including dollhouses and miniatures. Here are six project ideas that you can explore using balsa wood:

  1. Miniature Furniture Set:
    • Create a set of miniature furniture for your dollhouse using balsa wood. Craft items such as tables, chairs, beds, and bookshelves. Balsa wood’s lightweight and easy-to-cut nature makes it ideal for intricate details. You can paint or stain the furniture to match the desired aesthetic.
  2. Architectural Details for Dollhouses:
    • Enhance the architectural details of your dollhouse by crafting elements like doors, windows, and decorative trim using balsa wood.
      The lightweight nature of balsa wood allows for easy attachment to various surfaces. Experiment with different designs to add character and charm to your miniature dwelling.
  3. Miniature Garden Accessories:
    • Design and build tiny garden accessories for your fairy garden. This could include miniature fences, benches, flower pots, and even a gazebo. Balsa wood’s flexibility makes it suitable for creating curved or intricate shapes, adding a touch of whimsy to your miniature garden.
  4. Dollhouse Flooring and Paneling:
    • Use balsa wood to create realistic flooring and paneling for the interiors of your dollhouse. Cut the balsa wood into thin strips or squares to mimic hardwood floors or wall paneling. Experiment with different staining or painting techniques to achieve the desired finish.
  5. Balsa Wood Wall decorations:
    • Express your creativity by crafting miniature wall art pieces using balsa wood. Create tiny frames, paintings, or mirrors that can be hung on the walls of your dollhouse. Balsa wood’s lightweight nature makes it easy to mount on dollhouse walls without causing strain on the structure.
  6. Miniature Model Airplane or Boat:
    • Take inspiration from the historical use of balsa wood in model airplanes and build a miniature model airplane or boat for your dollhouse. This project allows you to explore different shapes and structures, and you can even paint or decorate the model to represent a specific era or theme.

My Final Conclusion.

I hope that you are now completely informed on the question: what is balsa wood?

If not or if you just would like to add information or have any other questions, please leave a comment below or join me now on my Facebook group.

I wish you happy crafting!

Best regards,

Lizzy

2 thoughts on “What Is Balsa Wood For Dollhouse Furniture And Miniatures And What Are The Advantages?”

  1. In tropical countries like Papua New Guinea we do plant them, but can you help us with some interesting parties or countries so we can sell them.

    Reply
    • Hello Daniel,

      I’m a bit confused here on your question, do you mean you want to sell balsa wood in other countries or the trees?
      I don’t see how I could help you with that to find a market to sell your products sorry ๐Ÿ˜‰
      thanks for your comment,
      Kind regards,
      Lizzy

      Reply

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