Introduction: Wood Propeller Fabrication

Picture of Wood Propeller Fabrication

This tutorial will show the steps needed for anyone to carve a propeller out of wood.

Step 1: Obtain Propeller Cross Sections

Picture of Obtain Propeller Cross Sections

First you must have full size cross sections (about 10, from root to tip) of your propeller. There are tools online for designing propellers, but you will need some CAD software to create the drawings and 2-D cross sections. I used CATIA, but any 3-D modeling software will do. (I also have a detailed instructions on design of propellers here ( Of course you will have to print out the cross sections of the propeller on to paper, at full scale size. Because you will need to cut them out and glue them to thin peice of aluminum or tin.

Step 2: Choose Your Wood and Prep It

Picture of Choose Your Wood and Prep It

You will need to choose your wood. This propeller is made of Hard Maple. If you are creating a propeller for acual load bearing use, you will need a hard wood like Maple. You then cut your wood into thin boards and glue them together like in the picture. You must glue them together with no gaps. You will need lots of clamps.

Step 3: Cut Out Paper Templates and Glue to Thin Sheets of Metal

Picture of Cut Out Paper Templates and Glue to Thin Sheets of Metal

You will now glue your templates onto thin sheets of metal, and then you tin snips to cut out the cross section.

You will need to file down the rough edges because the template needs to be dead on.

Typically you will want about 10 stations, or 10 cross sections from blade root to tip

Step 4: Cut the Propeller Profile

Picture of Cut the Propeller Profile

By marking the profile of the propeller (looking down on the wood) you can use a hand saw to cut out the profile of the propeller, this will save you time when you go to 'hog out material'

Step 5: Begin Hogging Out Material

Picture of Begin Hogging Out Material

Now this is the most time consuming part, you will use a chisle or draw knife, or any cutting tool to start widdling away wood material until you can start fitting on you templates to see where material needs to be taken out.

Step 6: The Fun Part Is When You Get Down to the Templates

Picture of The Fun Part Is When You Get Down to the Templates

Once you have hogged out most of the unwanted wood, you can now use the templets and hold them up to the correct stations along the blade to see where material needs to be removed. Be careful not to remove too much, you can't put it back once its gone. The hardest part will be the root area, were the templates are hard to align. Marking the front and back of the propeller with a small notch will help align the templates.

Step 7: Final Step Is to Sand and Add Stain

Picture of Final Step Is to Sand and Add Stain

You can use sand paper to sand down and smooth out the contour. Be sure to start will rought paper 40 grit to 100 grit, and work you want down to a nice 600 grit or finer. Then you will apply some water proof finish. If it is an outdoor propeller you will need to use a thick water proof varnish. This propeller is for an airboat (

Step 8: Propeller Duplicator

Picture of Propeller Duplicator

If your really ambitious, you can make a propeller duplicator, which can more or less duplicate anything, but right now its duplicting a propeller, so we call it a propeller duplicator.

I might make an instructables on how we made it, but for now some pics and a video here:



David Hoskins (author)2017-11-06

what type of varnish and/or clear coat did you use to finish it?

I'm just about done with a test prop for my ultralight and want to make sure I use the right finish.

Swansong (author)2017-10-06

Beautiful work!

kaie9 (author)2017-02-07

How do I make a 3d model? Like, so that it has the right pitch and width and whatnot

karthihss made it! (author)2016-08-15

I made it in my home thanks Mike.

cburgess7x (author)2015-08-04

Hey man, just wanted to say... fantastic job, and I would LOVE to make
one for an airplane I'm going to build, not an RC one like everyone
thinks, but an actual plane that I myself can climb into and pilot,
would this propeller do the job? I noticed it was designed for an
air-boat and my train of thought says that if it's powerful enough to
push a boat with 2 people over swamp and grass, it should be able to
taxi and pull a plane into flight, right? Well anyway, I have scoward
the internet everywhere and it's surprisingly hard to find an actual
real propeller for a real plane that I can potentially use for said real
plane, and the ones I do find cost more than my car, and designing one
takes a s*** load of math, I'm not even going to include the fact that I
never actually carved anything out of wood except for sharp points on
thin sticks with my pocket knife, so yeah, this looks like the most noob
friendly propeller design, I couldn't make sense of that propeller
designing app, but this is obviously not stuff you can learn in 10
minutes. So would just like to know if it could work as a plane
propeller. The plane will be a small single passenger aluminum plane linked below, it says balsa wood, but I'm gonna make it out of aluminum.

RC Glider Plane Balsa Frame 3D CAD Model Download | 3D CAD Browser

AeroEngineer (author)cburgess7x2015-08-09


Thanks for the questions. Also, thanks for good laugh. I would not recommend using this for a flight vehicle. It is not qualified to the correct loads, and could come apart in flight. This will be a problem if you don't have a safe place to land. I would recommend just guying one from an ultralight website. Or getting the plans for a real flight propeller at an ultralight website. Some examples:
They are actually pretty cheap:

Best of luck,


SalvatoreA1 (author)2015-02-08


what did you use of type of glue or epoxitic thank you

BloodyFingers (author)2013-11-30

I'd like to make one to put a clock in it for on the wall

Very cool

firstly i want to thanking you for keeping this website,

it is possible to make propeller with bamboo composite fiber material instant of wood?

yes or no

yes means why

no means why

thanking you.

Maybe, bamboo is super hard. Might take forever to carve, but might be possible

hohum (author)2014-09-12

VERY NICE!! how about how many hours from start to finish do you think it took to make the prop?/

AeroEngineer (author)hohum2014-09-13

1 day to glue wood
2 nights to dry
1 day to carve it (12 hrs)

imbiglarry (author)2013-11-04

This is extremely impressive. Congratulations on completing a project like this. It's clear you're a master of your craft :)

jimbir (author)2013-09-23

can you lead me to any of the sites that have the propeller design tools you speak of in this article?

Thanks. Jim Birke

AeroEngineer (author)jimbir2013-09-23

elevalther (author)2012-06-27

Hi AeroEngineer Do know our design of the propeller are valid for a windmill, or do you have a design for a 3-blade propeller

A windmill blade should work best if done the "opposite" way to a driven one. This means that the tip of the blade should be parallel to the direction of the wind and the base should be at about 90 degrees to that. The curvature along the airfoil should also be reversed so that the wind hits the flatter or more concave side of the blade.

Valvolino1978 (author)2012-06-22

Hi everyone, I'm new here and in props building (never done one before).
I'd like to build that one built by AeroEngineer, but I need help.
Firstly, he say that printing 200% pdf can give a full scale (1:1) design: well, the pdf posted on this forum ( it's an A4 format and if I print it, even doubled in dimensions, I obtain a scaled print also (an A4 has the longer side 11" long and if doubled it reaches 22", but propeller diameter is 48"!) So, how to?
Then another question: the propeller, even if mounted in the rear of the fan powered boat as shown, is a pulling one, ain't it? Blades profile seems to confirm this supposition.
Thanks in advance for the kind help you all may give to me.


fuddle (author)2012-03-06

Why did you choose this particular foil, and is there a reason you chose to make it completely of wood rather than say, foam-filled laminate?

AeroEngineer (author)fuddle2012-03-13


Thanks for you questions. I used a NACA 4412 because it has a flat bottom, making it esier to carve. I used wood because I wanted to carve a propeller. I think wood propellers look great. I have started thinking about using foam and fiberglass, but foam does not make a very accurate tool to lay composite onto for high twist propellers, but wood does, so I want to use wood as my master for molding the fiberglass.


fuddle (author)AeroEngineer2012-05-02

Superb. Thanks for the answer.
I agree there's definitely something about wood propellors that make them stick out. And 100% agreed- wood is an excellent base for a template.
PS- "props" *insert groan* on your drafting skills- or should I say "pitch-ers".
Oh dear. How pun-ishing.

Reefpimp (author)2008-11-29

Congratulations, you've succeeded in giving everybody who reads this just enough knowlege to be dangerous. If you're considering building a wood propellor for ANYTHING that spins real fast, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure your woodworking skills are up to snuff. And use a waterproof glue such as Titebond III, resorcinol, or epoxy. Explosive delamination is a very real possibility.

fuddle (author)Reefpimp2012-03-06

What ever happened to Individual Freedom, Liberty and the responsibility that goes along with it?
The man gave an excellent instructable that was accessible to those without the luxury of a tertiary education.
Normal Wood glue is fine- see how hi-tech bi-plane fighters props were- they were used hide and hoof glue they did the job fine.
As long as the constructor follows the glue instructions (dry and free from grease/dust etc & is clamped (expulsion of air) no probs.
As far as I recall, airboat props are encased in a wire cage. If it were to delaminate- the centripetal force and airfoil vortex would blow it backwards- so nothing to worry about in front.
How Its Made (Airplane propellors)

Stop being a girl. Something has to kill you in this life.

AeroEngineer (author)Reefpimp2008-11-30

This is true.

itri45 (author)2012-01-13

If i download the pdf what percentage size should i print these out at for it to be full scale

AeroEngineer (author)itri452012-01-14


bertus52x11 (author)2011-12-21

That's an impressive piece of art!
You have an equally impressive spreadsheet on your personal website, though. Is it all right to contact you directly with some questions about the maths behind it?

david.beck (author)2011-10-18

gotta give you props on this one

AeroEngineer (author)david.beck2011-10-23

Thanks :)

broper (author)2011-10-05

dose that achualy work

TimmyMiller (author)2011-08-20

I wnt to your website and saw your prop duplication machine and do you think you can put an instructable for it? I want to make one.

AeroEngineer (author)TimmyMiller2011-08-23


I didn't take enough pictures of the build so I can't really make one. But I do have some of the drawings on my website and if you know how to machine parts, you can start from there.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.


liman (author)2011-07-15

What to do if i need 60" wooden prop., can I extend values proportionally.
And which props have better characteristics and performances 2 or 3 blade propellers.

AeroEngineer (author)liman2011-07-27

You can extend to 60" but this propeller was designed for a low speed fan boat. So it might not be appropriate for your application. Three blades can absorb
MOre power.

leviterande (author)2009-10-19

Hi, thank you for the tutorial but I must say I seriously dont understand how you really carv the prop based on the  profliel shapes..

you have the 10 pieces of  the metal profiles.. and then what? how do you put them on the prop, how do you cut the prop accordingly to the profile.. I am having  really a hard time understanding it..


bobsmith760 (author)leviterande2010-09-18

From what I see, you cut the metal template in half and carve out the inside shape. When you are done you should be able to slide the template over the top or bottom and were it touches is where you need to remove material.
Leave a reply if you have any more questions

If I understand right, using the cross section profile shown above, you stick the paper to the metal and cut out the templates, keeping the WHITE parts, not the GREY parts.

In effect you have made "outside" gauges, not "inside" (or teardrop) gauges.

THen simply place them onto the prop at the correct station. Remove the material where the gauge touches (or the highspots).

Beautifully done by the way....I like it!!

AeroEngineer (author)leviterande2010-09-26

You have to mark sections along the span for each template. You also have to mark the leAding and trailing edge for each template on the wood. Then place the template on wood, align the leading and trailing edge, and see where u need to remove material. Carve the material, and check the template again. Repaeat this process until the wood shape matches the template shape

ishak Mohamed (author)2011-02-21

Dear Sir,

I am very happy about your knowlege, and sapoting to next generagion,

i got this web side, 21/02/2011, I all so made propeller later i send poto

well done, excelant.

Thanking you,

Ishak M.

rocketsurgery (author)2011-02-17

Great project... thanks for posting... might have to make that pagojet (backback motor), after all :)

Re-design (author)2010-04-10

Most excellent work.

mwhitelog (author)2009-06-21

I have a 44-inch antique wooden propeller that I would like to mount to the wall in my apartment. What is the best way to mount the propeller. I enjoy all the comments. Thank you. 54pickup

finnrambo (author)2009-04-20

Sounds hard to make.

emdarcher (author)2009-02-22

what is that propeller for? an airplane?

AeroEngineer (author)emdarcher2009-04-01

It is for an Air boat, here is a few pictures of it mounted on the air boat:

ivanlp (author)2009-02-23

Thank you really for useful practical security councils! I will try to take it for my parachute. Again thanks! Ivanlp

AeroEngineer (author)ivanlp2009-04-01

sweet. Your welcome!

wonger18 (author)2009-03-17

Hi, i have a question about your cross section. How can i print out a full size copy of it? it says it should by around 48 inches in length. im thinking about printing parts of it on many sheets of paper and then gluing them onto the templates. could you tell me how to get a full size?

About This Instructable




Bio: I am an Aerospace Engineer. I love Technology, and Design.
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