Egg Cartons Over Easy

The Thrifty Rocketeer continues...

Another popular topic of contention is how to hold your rocket or the body tube while things (fins) are drying.

There are some who swear that you need a fin jig. There are several different styles.**  Some LPR rocketeers invest in an Estes Fin Jig for about $22 or so.  While this suggests that you can position almost any low power rocket on it and position 3 or 4 fins at the correct angle, my experience is that you don't need to buy this to accomplish an acceptable angle. However, if you're in a classroom setting, or a sequence of builds, where scouts or school kids each have to attach their fins, you may find this helpful, if not essential to keeping things straight and moving along...

My preference is extremely simple: Reuse your Styrofoam egg carton.  You could use the grey or paper carton that is made from recycled paper, but I like the lightweight Styrofoam ones cause I can stick them, and crush them, and re-position them at will.  Plus the glue doesn't seem to stick to them as badly, if dripped. (We go through a LOT of these containers in my household.)

You'll see that the full dozen blue container and the smaller white half dozen one are turned up-side down. That gives you any number of ways to rest your body tube along or across it. 

Now, some rocketeers just set their rocket in the long crease between the wells. But others slice the egg wells and insert the fin into it...
...gripping it so that the tube rests upon the fin when gluing. I don't do that.

I find that by resting the body tube along the long access, I can position my fin along a fin line marked on the tube and glue the root edge directly onto the tube. By careful positioning, and watching for 5-10 minutes to assure it doesn't sag or topple over, I can get a vertical fin every time. Subsequent fins at other angles become more of a challenge, but not impossible.  It does take some patience. I find after 15 minutes, I am assured that the fin will cure in place.  Sometimes I re-position and turn the body tube to start on the opposite fin in as little as 20 minutes.  Of course, I'm talking about using my favorite yellow Elmers' Wood Glue here. Your time may vary, depending on cure time, humidity, air movement, and other factors.

I have been known to apply a hair drier to wood glue to speed drying time up, when I'm pressed for time. Or, leave the overhead fan on low to increase air circulation too.  But you risk tipping over the fin or rocket before it's cured.  It's happened to me before.  That's why I monitor carefully for 10 minutes or so.

**Footnote:  Many higher power rocketeers invest in a professional guillotine style fin jig. While they are pricey, many people swear by them.  I just have never invested in one... yet.

That's it for this Thrifty tip. Until next installment, keep your glue capped and save your scrap balsa bits.   (...cause you never know when you'll need them!)


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