Portable Building Boards and Modeling Pins — A Well Deserved Update

Believe or not this crazy Web Page was the most viewed web page on our KCFreeFlight.org website last year in 2021—AND in the process it beat our HOME page by 93 visits !!!!

This web page made its debut in February of 2017 and because of the overwhelming popularity by you we’ve gone and gave this page an overhaul. We hope you like the changes. Keep viewing and tell your friends. 😀

Well folks . . . . you did it !!! For the year prior to this one, 2021—believe it or not—you, the visitors of this website, have voted by your visits to his page—have placed it at the NUMBER ONE SPOT on the list of viewed pages for KCFreeFlight.org. The total worldwide views for this page was a staggering 1,459 for the year. !!! 😀

With this in mind, my webmaster, JB Nisley, felt the need to upgrade this page if so many of you were viewing it . . .

Here’s an endorsement from David Higgins of Everett, WA USA :

“If you want to build GREAT STICK AND TISSUE MODEL AIRPLANES using traditional and proven methods—then hands down this is the BEST SOLUTION for Portable Building Boards.”

Dave has been a builder of balsa models for over 40 years. He just so happens to have some very successful web pages of his own on this website.

Check out Dave’s Glider Drawings to truly get a sense that he knows aeromodelling

At left are the sizes that you can make from just one 4 ft. x 2 ft. ceiling tile. Ceiling tiles often come packaged with three tiles to a packaged and cost any where from $21 to $27 so each building board will come out costing roughly about $3 per portable building board.

Above is a copy of the actual sketch I used to cut my original boards back in 2017. Certainly nothing fancy, but it worked for me as I proceeded to make the board cuts at my table saw. Little did I know then that this webpage would become one of the most popular pages on KCFreeFlight.org !!! 😉

Note that the pin shown above shows that most pins won’t bottom out through the two ceiling tile layers.


Let me introduce MYSELF.
My name’s Cecelia Ceiling Tile and over there is my red faced friend, Marvin Modeling Pin. It seems to me like he’s always embarrassed about something. . . . I’m wondering if it could have been something I said ??? 🙂

Anyway — We’re here to assist you to make some
important and functional model building boards
so you can get busy building. Yea—the Fun Stuff!

So Lets take a look at why in fact these CRAZY PORTABLE BUILDING BOARDS
seem to be out performing the other so called “Building Board Solutions” out there.
FIRST OFF — Are they PORTABLE like the ones we Have Here ?

From one (1)— 2 foot x 4 foot Ceiling Tile you can make one each of these
Three (3) convenient sizes:

36″ x 8″

24″ x 8″

16″ x 6″

Download The pdf document below and use it to make your Ceiling Tile Cuts.

Portable Building Boards Ceiling Tile Cutting Pattern.pdf
Click on the link or image above. 😉


Here’s a Sketch of how You Make the Cuts
in the Ceiling Tile to Achieve This!

Also worth noting is that the material that ceiling tiles are made of
hold the pins firmly but at the same time
are not hard to push in unlike Drywall or Sheetrock.

Three (3) Reasons why these Easy to Make Building Boards are So Popular World Wide.

First is that that they are conveniently made from Ceiling Tiles that are readily available anywhere in the world. Sometimes you can find them inexpensively and individually priced at a Habitat ReStore near you. (At least in the United States anyway.)

At Restore you will often find sheets or pieces of Drywall also known as Sheetrock for dirt cheap prices. On the surface (no pun intended) this seems like a logical choice to build a model airplane on because it’s flat. But I would caution you here.

For most rubber powered airplane models less than 36″ wingspan (and even larger models explained below), it makes sense to stick with Ceiling Tiles for your choice of building board material. If you are building a one piece wing over 48” wide then yes, drywall is your answer. Keep in mind, however, that most of the time the plans call for building one half of the wing at a time so a 36” long building board in most cases works just fine. 🙂

The reasons for this is discussed in more detail in our Second Reason for using Ceiling Tiles—coming up next.

Second is that you can make three double thick flat building boards from one ceiling tile that fit various modeling tasks. The three sizes are 36”x 8”, 24”x 8” and 16”x 6”. While you are at it—make additional Boards for your buddies.

Back to the discussion of Drywall.

Drywall is a flat panel made of gypsum plaster sandwiched in between two sheets of thick paper. It seems to me that you end up pushing into something way harder than is necessary to hold down balsa.

I’ve been listening to John McAvoy’s Model Airplane Podcasts titled Free Flight Fanatic” which are chock-full of useful information.

In a recent podcast where he spoke about modeling tools, John made the comment in the podcast that he sometimes has to use a needle nose pliers to push the pins into his building board made of drywall at the base of the pin so as to not bend them. Imagine that!

I agree wholeheartedly with 99.99% of what he recommends EXCEPT for his use of Drywall as a building board! 🙂

And the Third reason is that I have found that ceiling tiles make the best material to push pins in. But you must make the effort to glue them face to face to make a LAMINATED PANEL or else there is no guarantee that theywill stay flat and true.

The two single boards are glued white face to white face (which is the acoustic rough side with the holes you don’t want) with white or clear glue, Elmer’s or I’ve been getting a similar 4 oz. bottle of Clear Glue (white of clear makes no diffrence) product similar to Elmer’s at the Dollar Tree stores called Jot Clear SJot Clear School Glue, 4-fl.oz. Bthat works just fine. Better yet, for maximum strength you can go with Titebond Carpenter’s Glue. In any case, heavily weigh the glued panels down on something really flat like a Formica (laminate) table top (or better yet a granite countertop) while its drying. Allow 48 hrs to set.

This process forces the boards to remain flat indefinitely because the warping forces are counter balanced, much like the counter-rotating left and right propellers while powering the flight of a Twin Pusher.)

This last link takes you to our History of HAFFA Part 1.

Editors Note (JB): Not sure about that claim that it indefinitely stays flat but the ones I’ve been using since I put this page together in 2017 have held up nice and true—no worries about their flatness as far as I’m concerned. (I do keep them on a fairly flat shelf while not being used and not leaning up against something.) I’m extremely happy about that. “They continue to make all my balsa wood model airplane projects come out straight and true.”