Picture of Machining a Mini Tesla Turbine from Cardboard
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This instructable describes a cardboard version of an all-metal project that was featured in an issue of Popular Mechanics from 1965 (http://www.tfcbooks.com/teslafaq/q&a_031.htm). The turbine consists of a rotor suspended concentrically in a cylindrical shell. The rotor is fabricated from 16 shaft-mounted discs, each with a contoured edge to reduce turbulence. The rotor spins on low friction bearings. 

An injection manifold directs a stream of air through a lengthwise slot in the turbine shell. The stream flows between the disc spaces in a spiral path and eventually exits through exhaust ports located around the center of each disc. This coil of moving air "drags" the discs in a circle causing the rotor to turn. 

You can build this project using cardboard sheets obtained from end covers of discarded 3-ring binders, hand towel and bathroom tissue rolls, a high speed electric drill used as a lathe, basic hardware, white glue and simple hand tools.

Caution: Anything attached to the rotor axle must be securely held in place. With a sufficient air pressure, the turbine rotor can spool up to several thousand RPM in just a few seconds! 

Step 1: Turbine Shell

Picture of Turbine Shell
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The shell or housing of the turbine is made from one of those jumbo, bathroom tissue rolls used in public restrooms of chain restrauants and big box retail outlets. Make sure the edges are not dinged! As an alternative, you can use a cardboard mailing tube with the same dimensions (3-1/2" L x 3-1/2" ID x 1/16" thick).
How is this better than blowing on a propeller to turn a shaft?
brazilero2008 (author)  dougstrickland2 years ago
The results would be identical. In both instances the shaft turns. However, the TT contains no impeller blades to bend or break. Also, discs are easier to fabricate from cardboard -- just use a compass & scissors :D.
That's the motto of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment!
brazilero2008 (author)  goldenkeeper13 years ago
Thanks for your support!
hayme3 years ago
Hey dude may i ask something? what is the initial length of this? i made a replica of your tubine in (much cheaper version) so, can you give me like some formula? ex:

Wind speed + blade diameters = speed of fan? you know something like that. Like i said, mine is a bit cheaper so could you go through the roll size and length and this sort of stuff?
brazilero2008 (author)  hayme3 years ago
Try this web site to calculate turbine output. There's a downloadable excel app:
Here are the dims for the turbine:

Tube length: 90 mm
I.D. 87 mm
Disk width: 3 mm
Disk dia: 84 mm
Spacing: 3 mm
atterack8333 years ago
the site must hate me cause it said your price $99 as though im the only onw having to pay that price , if thats what you paid then your insane
Don't worry dude i am making a "cheap version" of this one. Well pray that mine works "i am currently using a bond paper puncher, a scissors, an illustration board, a compass, a sandpaper and some skewer stick. OK pray that i got motivations or Tesla's deity bless me.
topan.beang3 years ago
wow .. that's amazing ..
can tesla use water for the fluida ???
brazilero2008 (author)  topan.beang3 years ago
Try applying several coats of waterproofing spray to all cardboard parts first.
Text is way too glitched for me
Unfortunately, the glitched pp could not be repaired w/o re-doing the entire i'ble...
Bombtek3 years ago
Do you notice each time it text glitches you are typing the word "won't"?
brazilero2008 (author)  Bombtek3 years ago
Reminds me of my English teacher in high school who didn't accept essays with contractions!
Dépenser de l'énergie pour faire tourner un arbre, c'est ce que font tous les moteurs, quel est l'avantage de ce dispositif?

Spend energy to run a shaft, that is what do all the engines, what is the advantage of this device?
brazilero2008 (author)  Lefrançois3 years ago
A Tesla turbine w/a large enough air scoop could generate power from the wind.
Avatar_I_Am3 years ago
Uh... still getting a lot of: ����� instead of readable text...

Otherwise, seems [?] pretty cool.
brazilero2008 (author)  Avatar_I_Am3 years ago
A glitch w/the text editor...
Bongmaster3 years ago
vid of it running? :)
brazilero2008 (author)  Bongmaster3 years ago
Just posted a vid here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wq8KLpnqRk
Pilgrimm3 years ago
Can't be read in Internet Explorer 9 either!
brazilero2008 (author)  Pilgrimm3 years ago
Edit command is frozen; still working on fixing problem...
poza3 years ago
not all of your characters are readable in my browser (chrome). would you consider using simple text to make your instructable readable by chrome users?
Lrr poza3 years ago
Not working in Safari either.
peacefoots poza3 years ago
i have the same problem
The rogue character is just an apostrophe. Something has happened with the editor here to make it spit out a million of them!
brazilero2008 (author)  ryanhiltonis3 years ago
Thanks for the feedback about the characters. It seems my page may have been hacked on Fri evening when the malicious character string first appeared. The "edit" command is now frozen, so the string can't be deleted for the moment. Maybe there's a "Geek Squad" at Instructables to fix these problems?
same here
leea9 poza3 years ago
Doesn't work in Firefox or Safari either.
kkhan53 years ago
My browser Firefox cant read a couple things!
acoleman33 years ago
deffo 5* my friend....well done.
Good job on making one out of cardboard. My machine shop team in college made a prototype out of cardboard first before tackling the project in metal. It allowed us to work out the kinks. I just gotta say that we won 1st place in the WESTEC2004 Manufacturing contest in Los Angeles, CA. with a 4inch diameter Tesla turbine.
Edgar3 years ago
You rightly deserve to know about this little gem, the Fonly Lathe:
brazilero2008 (author)  Edgar3 years ago
Thanks, as always , for your interest!
We Portuguese-speaking guys gotta stick together...
Edgar3 years ago
On my Blog, now, a Link to your Instructable: http://faz-voce-mesmo.blogspot.com/2011/10/tesla-tesla.html
rimar20003 years ago

Thanks for sharing.