Laser cut metal wind spinners have been popular for years, and can be seen hanging in gardens, on front porches, and on patios. However, these often have sharp edges and may be unsuitable to hang indoors (particularly with little children in the home). Here we will make a wind spinner out of cardstock that not only won't have sharp metal edges, but offers the possibility of unlimited personalization.
I made this at TechShop www.techshop.ws
Step 1: Materials and Equipment
Vector drawing software (I used CorelDRAW)
Laser cutter (my TechShop has a Trotec Speedy 300)
8-1/2" x 11" Cardstock
String or yarn
This instructable assumes some basic familiarity with CorelDRAW and a laser cutter.
Step 2: Design the Ring Segments
Draw a series of concentric circles from 4" to 8" in diameter in 1/2" diameter steps (9 total circles). Make sure that you set the line width to hairline so that the laser cutter knows that you want to cut these lines and not just engrave them.
Draw a 0.4" x 7.8" rectangle centered on the circle's center. This will overlap all but the outer circle. Delete all of the arc segments inside the rectangle, then delete the rectangle itself.
Step 4: Draw a Snowflake
Draw the first arm of the snowflake. Athough a simple design consisting of rounded rectangles is shown here, be creative! You can incorporate a variety of shapes like circles and hexagons to give your snowflake more character. Here you can see the simple rectangles overlapping each other, and then welded together to make a single shape.
Go to the transformations menu and select the rotate option. Set the configuration for rotation around the bottom, 60 degree angle, and 5 copies. This will give you all six arms of the snowflake. If you don't like the final shape, go back a step and modify the design of the single arm, then repeat this step. Once you are happy with the final appearance, select the weld option again to merge all of the arms into a monolithic snowflake.
Step 6: Finishing the Design Phase
Now we need to connect the snowflake to the inner most arc segments, otherwise it will fall out when laser cut. Add four little curves connecting the top and bottom of the snowflake to the ends of the inner arcs. Delete the resulting small segments at the top and bottom of the snowflake. Then, add a half circle to the top of the outer ring, delete the small arc segment of the main circle, then add a small circle centered in that area. This will be the tie point to hang the wind spinner. You are now done with the design portion!
Step 7: Lasers!
Now cut the pattern out on the laser cutter. You will need to experiment with your laser cutter settings for the best results. I found that both a relatively low power (18%) and low speed (3%) worked well for me. Your laser cutter should provide recommended settings for various materials.
Step 8: Folding the Ring Segments
Lay the wind spinner flat on a hard surface such as a table. Starting on one side, fold the rings up from the outside towards the inside while decreasing the fold angle as you go along. Once you complete the first side, flip the wind spinner over allowing the already folded rings to hang off the edge of the table. Now fold the remaining rings in the same fashion.
Step 9: Finishing Up
Tie a suitable length of string or yarn to the hole at the top of the wind spinner, and you are done. Hang the wind spinner near a source of moving air, such as a ceiling fan, open window, air conditioning vent, etc. and enjoy. For your next wind spinner, experiment with different shaped outer rings (perhaps with scalloped edges instead of plain circles), different cut out patterns in the middle (such as snowmen, rockets, or a leprechaun), or even pre-print patterns and pictures on the card stock before cutting it out on the laser cutter. Your only limitation is your imagination!