Botanical Name: Ochroma pyram і dale Balsa has the lightest weight of any commercially used hardwood. This property has made it a key ingredient of life rafts and a wide variety of safety and buoyancy devices since World War II. In fact, the word balsa means raft in Spanish. Although it is difficult to dry, once it does it is a relatively stable and strong wood for its weight. Other Names: Guano (Puerto Rico, Honduras); lanero (Cuba); polak (Belize, Nicaragua); topa (Peru);tami (Bolivia).

Sources: West Indies, Central America, tropical South America (Ecuador).

Characteristics: Straight grain; fine, velvety texture; white to oatmeal-brown with a pinkish tint.

Uses: Model-making, toys, water sports equipment and theatrical props.

Workability: Extremely good provided blades are kept very sharp; will not bend without buckling; little blunting of cutters.

Finishing: Accepts finishes well; absorbs a great quan­tity of finishing material.

Weight: 6-16 Ib./cu. ft.

Price: Moderate.

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