Introduction: How to Make a Cheap and Easy Propeller in 1 Minute (model Boats/planes Etc)

Couldn't afford to buy 30 x propellers for my science class so I came up with a quick and cheap alternative that actually turned out to work amazingly well and looks pretty cool.

Tested on about a hundred model boats and planes and worked brilliantly. 


BuildAFence (author)2013-11-04

What is a lighting taper? lighting paper? lining taper? I don't know what that is?

dcuish (author)BuildAFence2013-11-04

A lighting taper is just a little strip of scrap wood used for lighting candles (and burners in science classrooms) . It's basically just a longer splinter. You could probably just use lollipop sticks for same. If you wanted smaller props you could slit open a lollipop stick with scissors or blade. Or strip off a splinter from a bigger piece of scrap wood with a blade.

Biscuitus (author)dcuish2014-10-21

I know this is almost a year later but did you think about doing it over a kettle? Steam is not nearly as flammable and should achieve the same effect. But I'm still going to try this with flame on, I have a micro tricopter I'm building and I'm looking to save weight

plecat (author)dcuish2013-11-06

Looks like a "coffee stirrer" in the US to me...


dcuish (author)plecat2013-11-07

Oh snap! Yeah I bet they're made in the same factory. Really good suggestion! You could totally use one of those!

plecat (author)dcuish2013-11-08

I wasn't familiar at all with the term lighting taper, being a Yank and all... ;) I'm glad you confirmed my suspicions! I imagine you could soak and/or steam bend tongue depressor for larger models... GREAT idea!! Paul

yaswanth raj (author)2015-07-31

hey this will work as like a real propeller

i think this will not have enough power to fit for boat

rimar2000 (author)2013-11-04

Good work, but pardon: these propellers are cheap and easy but no efficient. In order to decrease turbulence the crossing (pitch) must be decreasing from center to edges. Your procedure would be almost perfect if you make the hole through the width of the body, not perpendicular, but you should reinforce it before.

You could successfully use this method to make an efficient, cheap and fast propeller. Obviously, you must redefine the blade's profile, and make both blades simultaneously.

ChuckM1 (author)rimar20002014-08-25

Rimar2000...The link you provided is broken...Do you have another link?

rimar2000 (author)ChuckM12014-08-26

Sorry, Chuck, I can't find another link.

Years ago I made a 2 blades propeller using very thin layers of wood, the wood used to plate furniture (near 1 mm thickness). I cut many layers identical using a jig, each layer having both blades. Then I mounted them in the axis (a nail) and glued them rotating slightly each with respect previous. Once dry the glue, I sanded the surface until it was even. The resulting profile was almost ideal, efficient and without turbulence. The method requires a little of work, patience and prolixity, but it worth. You can use balsa wood too.

rimar2000 (author)rimar20002014-08-26

I found another link:

Warning, the balancing method is wrong in that page: if the propeller left ALWAYS horizontal, it is not balanced.

rimar2000 (author)rimar20002014-08-26

See the title "Método
para hacer hélices en madera balsa:"
in previous link.

dcuish (author)rimar20002013-11-04

Nice idea. I might try going through the width of the body next time I make these.

rimar2000 (author)dcuish2013-11-05

Some years ago (maybe 30) I made a propeller using leftovers of 1 mm thin wood used for overlays / inlays. I cut many identical shapes with a central hole. Then open them like a fan and shaped both blades with sandpaper. The result was satisfactory: very low noise –equal low turbulence–, lightweight, free, fast and easy.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2014-02-02

A fine instructable.


The photo on the email was kind of a bait-and-switch, don't you think?

And teamcoltra.
I once had a conversation with a Brit, and he offhandedly mentioned,
"Well, my high school is older than your country."

teamcoltra (author)2013-11-06

Sorry, I watched the video and got distracted by how much I wish I went to school in England.

zawy (author)2013-11-06

ummm, the picture for this instructable I received in email is a lot better than what the video describe, so its false advertising. There ought to be a rule against that :)

hellcat443 (author)2013-11-06

amazing nice idea that is usefull for model planes

domino88 (author)2013-11-05

It's always nice to make things yourself and you have made something that works for you. That's great!
I just find the cover picture of this instructable a bit misleading because your results are very different from the propellers on the cover picture. It would have been better to have a picture of the actual propeller you made.

dulalhalder (author)2013-11-05

sorry video is not playing...

macrumpton (author)2013-11-05

If you soak the wood in water first it will burn less before it bends. Also if you put a mirror behind your camera you can see what the camera is filming.

dcuish (author)macrumpton2013-11-05

Yeah exactly. I did this with the first few but became sort of lazy and skipped this part when I had to make 30 of them.

Yeah sorry I actually made this video as part of a school ipad trial a year ago. (I wouldn't normally use such a terrible device) Will use a proper camera in future :)

smithdvs (author)2013-11-05

Mumble mumble! Part close up not centered? Got the general idea but Bad presentation!

dcuish (author)smithdvs2013-11-05

Well I don wan mmm mummummere hummereass agreed.

Xolin (author)2013-11-05

Excellent!!! Fus ro dah!!!!!

Mic100 (author)2013-11-03

simple but some know-how

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