How to Build Balsa Wood Model Airplanes

Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt

Balsa wood model airplanes are lightweight, simple to construct and inexpensive to gather materials for. One type of balsa wood model airplane that is not seen as often is the biplane. This plane sports two wings, one on the top and bottom and this design can help to add a touch of diversity to your model plane collection. You can create one of these to reenact the famous flight of the Red Baron and you don't need to worry about breaking the model as another one can be made quickly and cheaply.

Trace and cut out the pieces of the balsa wood model biplane. Do this by drawing a long thin rectangle for the body of the balsa wood biplane that is 9 inches long and 1 inch wide. Add the back tail to the main body of the plane with a triangle at the top right end of the body. This should be 1/2 inch tall. Draw two rectangles that are 9 inches wide and 2 inches long for the characteristic twin wings of the biplane. Draw the pattern for the back tail with a triangular shape that is 1 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long.

Trace out the biplane wing supports with two sideways "H" shapes that are 1 inch long and 1 inch wide. Cut the shapes out of the balsa wood using a jigsaw. If you are having trouble with an area, cut around it and remove the excess wood later with an X-acto knife. Cut two slots out of the main body of the biplane to insert the bottom and back wing. The first slot should be at the bottom middle of the biplane's body. This should be 1/32nd of an inch wide and 2 inches long. The back slot should be 1/32nd of an inch wide and 1 inch long. Cut these slots out slowly with an X-acto knife by gently repeating your cuts until you remove the wood.

Slip the bottom wing of the biplane into the slot on the body and the back tail into the back slot. You can further secure these objects with a small bead of wood glue placed on each side of the slot where the slot and the wing touch. Glue the wing supports onto the left and right side of the bottom wing of the biplane. Let this dry for an hour. Glue the top wing of the biplane to the top of the body of the plane as well as the wing supports.

Let all of the glue dry for an hour. Balsa wood is porous enough to hold marker so the entire paint for the biplane can be done in marker if you desire some quick designs or you can use acrylic model paint of you want to take your time.

Things You'll Need

  • 12 by 12 inch balsa wood sheet 1/32nd of an inch thick
  • Jigsaw
  • X-acto knife
  • Wood glue
  • Markers or acrylic paint


  • Painting the biplane can be done much more easily if you paint the plane before assembly.


  • Always wear safety goggles when cutting wood or operating a jigsaw.