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 (www.aerodyndesign.com) 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.
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cburgess7x1 month ago

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)  cburgess7x25 days ago

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,

SalvatoreA16 months ago


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

I'd like to make one to put a clock in it for on the wall
AeroEngineer (author)  BloodyFingers11 months ago
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
hohum11 months ago

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

AeroEngineer (author)  hohum11 months ago
1 day to glue wood
2 nights to dry
1 day to carve it (12 hrs)
imbiglarry1 year ago
This is extremely impressive. Congratulations on completing a project like this. It's clear you're a master of your craft :)
jimbir1 year ago
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)  jimbir1 year ago

elevalther3 years ago
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.
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 (http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_10/PROP_10.pdf) 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.


fuddle3 years ago
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)  fuddle3 years ago

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.

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.
Reefpimp6 years ago
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 Reefpimp3 years ago
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)  Reefpimp6 years ago
This is true.
itri453 years ago
If i download the pdf what percentage size should i print these out at for it to be full scale
AeroEngineer (author)  itri453 years ago
bertus52x113 years ago
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.beck3 years ago
gotta give you props on this one
AeroEngineer (author)  david.beck3 years ago
Thanks :)
broper3 years ago
dose that achualy work
TimmyMiller4 years ago
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)  TimmyMiller4 years ago

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.

liman4 years ago
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)  liman4 years ago
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.
leviterande5 years ago
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..

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)  leviterande4 years ago
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
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.
Great project... thanks for posting... might have to make that pagojet (backback motor), after all :)
Re-design5 years ago
Most excellent work.
opensuse5 years ago
mwhitelog6 years ago
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
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