Exploding Timber

By Rupert Goodall
Article in Australian Woodworker, March/April 2003 edition.

My mind was expanded recently when I was introduced to the world of The Model Boat Battle Group. This nationwide enthusiastic group labour over highly detailed and sophisticated radio-controlled model boats only to spend their weekends blowing each other out of the water; all legal and above board. The powered canons fire shots across ponds and inflict carnage onto the balsa wood model as seen on the site www.ausbg.org. Now I understand where some of our balsa wood stocks go!

My second association with exploding timber came recently from the special effects department at Movie World, currently filming Peter Pan – 180 million dollar budget! In one scene musket shots spray Captain Hook’s galleon deck, and in true Hollywood fashion, the director wanted this to look larger than life! A range of light weight timber samples were duly assessed and balsawood proved to cause the most ‘spectacular effect’.

Your next mission, Rupert, should you choose to accept!….? is to produce significant areas of balsawood decking over-night for Captain Hook’s galleon.

12 foot lengths of balsa were duly glued up and fine sawn for the following morning, and cut into decking boards; a little age staining, some creative lighting and the effects were spectacular. Peter Pan is due for public release late in 2003. Anyone else out there with any explosive anecdotes?!