Instructables

Wood Propeller Fabrication

Featured
This tutorial will show the steps needed for anyone to carve a propeller out of wood.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: 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.

Step 2: 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

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

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

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.

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.

BloodyFingers4 months ago
I'd like to make one to put a clock in it for on the wall
imbiglarry5 months ago
This is extremely impressive. Congratulations on completing a project like this. It's clear you're a master of your craft :)
jimbir6 months 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)  jimbir6 months ago
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/ANALYSIS/ANALYSIS.htm

http://www.mh-aerotools.de/airfoils/jp_applet.htm
elevalther1 year 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.

Valvolino

fuddle2 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)  fuddle2 years ago
Fuddle,

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.

Mike
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.
Reefpimp5 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 Reefpimp2 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)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvLra7G31cU

Stop being a girl. Something has to kill you in this life.
AeroEngineer (author)  Reefpimp5 years ago
This is true.
itri452 years ago
If i download the pdf what percentage size should i print these out at for it to be full scale
AeroEngineer (author)  itri452 years ago
200%
bertus52x112 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.beck2 years ago
gotta give you props on this one
AeroEngineer (author)  david.beck2 years ago
Thanks :)
broper2 years ago
dose that achualy work
TimmyMiller2 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)  TimmyMiller2 years ago
Tim,

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.

Mike
liman2 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.
Thanks.
AeroEngineer (author)  liman2 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.
leviterande4 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..

thanx
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)  leviterande3 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-design4 years ago
Most excellent work.
opensuse4 years ago
mwhitelog4 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
finnrambo5 years ago
Sounds hard to make.
emdarcher5 years ago
what is that propeller for? an airplane?
AeroEngineer (author)  emdarcher5 years ago
It is for an Air boat, here is a few pictures of it mounted on the air boat:
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/FAN_BOAT/FAN_BOAT_FABRICATION.htm
ivanlp5 years ago
Thank you really for useful practical security councils! I will try to take it for my parachute. Again thanks! Ivanlp
DMC_0148.JPG
AeroEngineer (author)  ivanlp5 years ago
sweet. Your welcome!
wonger185 years ago
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?
AeroEngineer (author)  wonger185 years ago
Well you can print it out using the tile option and then cut it out and tape it together. Or u can take it to Kinko, and they can print it on a plotter.
angelod03295 years ago
thanks for the procedure in making a wood propeller. its a big help for my assignment...
Kohler5 years ago
Great Instructable!! Now im feeling like building an Fokker Dr.1
Rotor-Head5 years ago
Question.. I have a wood prop and the tip has a small piece out from a rock hit.. Other than that it's perfect. If I were to make a mold of the tip (from the other side) drill a few small holes in the damaged area and fill the holes and mold with an epoxy or something to rebuilt the tip... what would I use in terms of a filler material? Thanks
bd5 Rotor-Head5 years ago
If I were you, I would dig out (even grind if necessary) the damaged area. Leave no loose or damaged wood in the nick. Get some high quality epoxy (do NOT use 5 minute epoxy), mix fiberglass (no longer than 1/8") into the nick. Use a metal file to carefully file away the excess epoxy/glass. Make sure you cover the epoxy with a good quality paint as epoxy can deteorate with light. Rebalance the propellor. Voila, you're done.
dandumit5 years ago
please tell me what routing bits did you used ?
Those : http://www.copycarver.com/copy_carver_burrs.htm Worth the money ?
vulcano9115 years ago
Engineer: Please give us the blue prints. We will thank you forever.
AeroEngineer (author)  vulcano9115 years ago
Vulcano,
I have uploaded a pdf drawing, and an excel spreadsheet which has the airfoil sections. You just have to enter the correct t/c to get a thicker section
Drawing: http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_10/PROP_10.pdf
Airfoil: http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_10/4412.xls
what is the t/c?
buhamad95 years ago
Thank You Very Much for Reply my dear

www.aircraftsdesigncenter.com

What Kind of wood used for your Propeller Project
th_Animation6.gif
AeroEngineer (author) 5 years ago
Simple 'Elmers' wood glue.
buhamad95 years ago
www.aircraftsdesigncenter.com please my dear what kind of The (Glue)used for Laminate Propeller wood? . Thanks
mohad pic.jpg
AeroEngineer (author)  buhamad95 years ago
Simple 'Elmers' wood glue.
AeroEngineer (author)  buhamad95 years ago
Simple 'Elmers' wood glue.
vulcano9116 years ago
Hello Engineer. Thanks for your time, the tutorial is very clean and easy to understanding. Sorry, but I have big doubt. How should I use the templates on paper? Do you can give us the model templates drawings in another format different than .JPG? (may be autocad plans or a bigger picture), please. Best regards.
AeroEngineer (author)  vulcano9115 years ago
Templates are only printed to paper so that they can be glued to thin sheet metal, and then tin snips are used to cut the profile. So the templates are actually made of metal, but the paper is used to get the shape.

I posted drawings and an excel spreadsheet here:
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_10/PROP_10.htm
I have used old X-RAY film for mine but I am doing things like the horse to the left .....Very well done I have made smaller ones some for kids at sons school by eye a few that had to be spot on for RC planes ..
Gavabc1235 years ago
would i be able to make a mini propeller for my model rc plane?
AeroEngineer (author)  Gavabc1235 years ago
Yes, a good website for small propeller design is:
http://www.mh-aerotools.de/airfoils/javaprop.htm
Must install java tho
thanks heaps
just mike5 years ago
good job man! I sure would like to see an instructable on your duplicator
AeroEngineer (author)  just mike5 years ago
I have some what crappy instructions at this website:
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_DUP/PROP_DUP.htm

There are drawings on the site for free download of the parts, but they require machining which is not easy.
hcold5 years ago
Good one, Tin Tin.
flyer6 years ago
What kind of wood did your propeller made of? and are there any other wood can be used? What kind of epoxy or material are used to combine the multi-layer wood plate?
AeroEngineer (author)  flyer6 years ago
Propeller was made of hard wood Maple
Mostly any hard wood can be used (Maple, Walnut, Oak, Cherry)
No epoxy, just simple wood glue. Thats all. Lots of clamps, lots and lots of clamps

Check out the duplicator on my website, i did some glueing there:
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_DUP/PROP_DUP_FAB_2.htm
ankido20006 years ago
Nice work true, but: How about the Balance and the rated RPM? Nice piece of Art no doubt, but I would not consider it a functional propeller unless it run on very low RPM.
AeroEngineer (author)  ankido20006 years ago
Incorrect, it will function at 2200 RPM for our Fan boat. www.aerodyndesign.com
AeroEngineer (author) 6 years ago
Propeller was made of hard wood Maple Mostly any hard wood can be used (Maple, Walnut, Oak, Cherry) No epoxy, just simple wood glue. Thats all. Lots of clamps, lots and lots of clamps.
awoodcarver7 years ago
Very nice work! Very clear instructable ! I have made small props for toys , i think a large one would look nice on my garage wall
CameronSS7 years ago
Wow. You have far more patience than I do. I just want to carve one out of cheap 2x4s or something to put on display and look cool. Hmmm...propeller+chainsaw engine+bicycle...
AeroEngineer (author)  CameronSS7 years ago
Thanks, the Propeller + Chainsaw Engine + Bike thing has been proposed to me before. I might just do it for the reason that you are the second person to recommend it! this is going to work well on the airboat which we are designing now.
I know a guy who did it...It was before I knew him, though
Machuse7 years ago
Great work, great Instructable! Just curious. What actual finish are you using? I do some work with wood and am looking for something that wont turn yellow and has that great gloss you've achieved with this propeller.
BoilerUp7 years ago
Amazing. I'm also really interested in your next project: a Wind Turbine. My senior design class (Undergrad Mechanical Engineering) just decided to make a portable wind turbine this semester - and I'm in charge of selecting/ purchasing/ making a prop for our application. So any direction you can give on where to look for materials on NACA section selection would be awesome (there are so many to choose from!). But particularly from a craft point of view - this is impressive stuff.
AeroEngineer (author)  BoilerUp7 years ago
There are lots of good books to help choose airfoils for low RE number propellers like the ones found on Wind Turbines. I am going to be modifying my BEMT program found on my website, and using it for my Wind Turbine Design. Not sure what airfoils i want to use yet.
twistedself7 years ago
The hovercraft community often creates their own props as well. They have full size plans available as well. .Have to buy them though. I have plans for a prop and hovercraft from hovercraft.com. I believe they recommend you fiberglass the prop for strength. They also balance the prop with weights addted to the root of the prop.
WolvesOfWar7 years ago
wowowow next instructable how to build a plane?
trebuchet037 years ago
Do you have an resources for finding the proper propeller design, size etc.

Like... say I wanted to make a bike powered by a propeller turned by a crank :P how would I go about finding a propeller design that met my specs?


Very nice work :)

It also seems possible to make a propeller with cheaper high density foam -- then use the duplicator to make it in wood. So if you screw up by removing too much - you can just spray on some extra foam or start over without major investment losses :P
AeroEngineer (author)  trebuchet037 years ago
I have written a program in EXCEL which uses a blade element thoery to help design. If you have no expereience with this analysis, it might be difficult to use. In terms of getting the templates, you really don't need a cad program if you know how to draw. You only really need 2-D cross sectinos. If you clever you can find all the airfoils u need online (ie. http://www.pdas.com/avd.htm) and then just print out the sections, but remember u need to choose a twist for you given airspeed) For that you need to design a twist:

My BEMT program for designing the twist:
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/ANALYSIS/PROPELLER_OR_ROTOR_IN_AXIAL_FLIGHT.xls

Other programs online for free:
http://www.mh-aerotools.de/airfoils/javaprop.htm

A cheap CAD program:
http://www.pilot3d.com/Airfoil.htm
AeroEngineer (author)  trebuchet037 years ago
EXACTLY, you have good insight. That is the plan for out next project (a Wind Turbine). Which we will use foam and a hot wire to make the template blade. and then the duplicator for the wood.
spinach_dip7 years ago
Nothing short of brilliant, that duplicator. But if you could duplicate the duplicator... but I shouldn't give you ideas. Nice work.
jtobako7 years ago
one (two) clarification(s) and one question. you use the white part of the template and cut away the black. the wood grain is alternated when reassembling to prevent warping (presumably). how to you line up the amount of twist in the template? or, how do you keep the center line of the templates on a common plane? do you clamp a strait edge to the hub/clamp the hub to a flat work surface and try to slide the template underneath?
AeroEngineer (author)  jtobako7 years ago
1) Yes you cut out the Black and leave the white, and if u look at the step 4 pic, u can see that we cut the top half of the airfoil and the bottom half for each template, so that we can place them on either side of the wood and they will meet. 2) First you measure stations out from the center, every x inches (inboard to tip). then you draw lines at each station, be sure they are square to the woods edge. 3) Then you know the Chord (distance from airfoil leading edge to trailing edge) of each airfoil section and its distance from the centerline of the propeller. You will mark the leading edge and trailing edge and then connect the dots for each station going outboard, you will wind up with step 5, which is the cut out planform of the propeller.then all u have to do is place your templates on each station and begin carving until the top template meets the bottom template. It really works, you can mess it up. (unless u take out too much material. Then ur hosed
sorry, i can't 'see' how you keep the templates square to each other and prevent an extra twist or ripple in the blade. it's probably just being there, seeing that the top leading edge is on line and it's the top trailing edge that needs to be taken down not the bottom trailing edge brought up.
AeroEngineer (author)  jtobako7 years ago
OH and about the grain. For load bearing propellers, you want to get 'Quarter Sawn'sp? wood, which means they cut the wood so that the grain is always along the length. You will notice that the wood we used has the grain running along the propllers length. This is to maximize bending loads.
robonut6257 years ago
That is absolutely beautiful! Awesome work Aeroengineer!
AeroEngineer (author)  robonut6257 years ago
We have also made a propeller duplicator, which you can watch a video in action: Which we actually duplicate this same propeller using a machine we built from scratch. And no templates are required:
http://www.aerodyndesign.com/PROP_DUP/PROP_DUP.htm
AeroEngineer (author)  AeroEngineer7 years ago
sam7 years ago
Do you need to make sure its perfectly balanced or anything? Sort of like the way people sharpen lawnmower blades on a pin to check their balance..
AeroEngineer (author)  sam7 years ago
Actually we just carved both sides, and used the templates, it came out near perfect. You can always add a bit more varnish to one side if necessary
That is really beautiful, the duplicator is cool too. What kind of glue are you using?
AeroEngineer (author)  Tool Using Animal7 years ago
Just regular wood glue.
Wow, nice work.
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!