Introduction: Counter-Rotating WindSpinner

Want to add a little color and action to your garden or yard. I've been making Wind Spinners and Whirligigs for a few years and have created a simple yet interesting spinner. Not only will it give you an idea of wind direction and speed, but it's fun to watch. You might find yourself in a trance, watching it for no reason.



1 - 1/2 by 4 inch cedar dog ear picket

2 - 3/4 by 36 inch Poplar Squares

1 - 1 1/2 inch by 36 inch deck baluster


1 - 1/4 inch zinc coated rod - 36 inch (will only need 12-18 inches)

1 - 1/4 inch set screw collar

8 - 1/4 inch metal washers (may need additional or fewer depending upon spacing of

8 - #4 x 1 inch brass wood screws

4 - 1/4 inch bearings


Miter Saw

Dovetail Saw

Random Orbit Sander

Drill and Drill Bits

Wood Rasp/File

Wood Chisel

Small Wood Plane (optional)

Sand Paper



Silicone Sealant

Step 1: Cutting the Arms and Bearing Blocks

This step will use the Miter Saw and the 2 pieces of 3/4 x 36 square poplar.

Cut 4 - 11 inch pieces of the poplar. These will be the arms of the wind spinner

Cut 4 - Bearing Blocks - triangular pieces of wood that are 2 inches long at the base and 3/4 inches wide at the top using a 45 degree miter cut.

Step 2: Cutting the Blades

You will need to cut 8 - 6 inch blades from the cedar picket.

It is easiest to sand the rough cedar is recommended before making the cuts.

Each blade will be 6 inches in length.

Using a wood rasp or sanding block, round all four corners of each blade.

Step 3: Creating the Cross-Arm Propeller - Part 1

The blades will be set at a 45 degree angle. The angle will be created by trimming wood from the arms.

Mount the blades in a vise or a jig to hold the arms while cutting.

Measure 3 inches from each end and cut the wood as shown in the photos. You will want to make sure to cut opposite angles on each set of arms.

Cut halfway thru the arms for the last three inches of each arm and using the wood chisel break out the waste wood and clean up the cut.

The 5th photo shows how the two sets of arms are cut at opposite angles which will allow the arms to spin in opposite directions.

Step 4: Creating the Cross Arm Propeller - Part 2

Next we will need to connect the arms together.

From the center of each arm measure 3/8 inch on either side of center. Then measure down 3/8 inch and outline the area in pencil. This will be what is removed. Wood will need to be removed from the top of one arm and from the bottom of the other arm in order to nest together.

Using the dovetail saw remove the waste and clean up with a wood chisel and rasp until the 2 arms from each set fit tightly together.

Glue each set of arms together.

When the glue is dry, find the center of the propeller and drill a hole 17/64th in diameter. This is slightly larger than the 1/4 steel rod. The arms will be spinning on the bearings so there is no need for the wood to contact the rod.

Step 5: Attached the Blades to the Arms

This is a simple matter of gluing the blades on to the arms we previously made.

Give the blades one last cleanup sanding.

Apply glue and clamp on to the arms until dry.

After the glue is dry, I usually dress up the back of the blade by using a mini plane to smooth down the angle.

Step 6: Seal the Joints

This is the point where I will normally apply silicone sealant to any glue joint.

This will not only extend the life of the glue joint, but it will also make a smooth surface for paint application.

Step 7: Bearing Blocks

Clean them up with sand paper.

Drill a 3/32 inch hole approximately halfway up on each angled side of the blocks.

On the bottom side (2 inch length) using a 5/8 inch Forstner bit drill a 7/16 inch deep hole in the middle of each block.

After drilling the 5/8 inch hole, finish drilling the rest of the way thru the block using a 17/64 inch drill bit.

After all the holes are drilled, mix up some 5 minute epoxy and glue the bearings into each 5/8 inch hole. Make sure to only apply epoxy to the outside edge of the bearings.

Step 8: Base and Tail

Using the remainder of the 1/2 inch cedar picket we used for blades, we will make the tail for the spinner.

In the miter say, cut a 45 degree angle on each end (or round, or v-shape, etc.)

The Base: Cut the 1 1/2 inch square baluster down to 24 inches length and cut a 2 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch wide slot in one end to accommodate the tail. On the opposite end, drill a 1/4 inch diameter hole approximately 3 inches deep in the cent of the end. This will be where the 1/4 inch rod is inserted to hold the arms.

Glue the tail in place, when dry apply silicone sealant and allow to dry.

Then give everything a good coat of paint.

Step 9: Install the Bearing Blocks

While the tail is drying, the bearing block epoxy should be dry and we can attach them to the arms

Sandwich a set of arms between two bearing blocks and slide onto the 1/4 inch rod. This will ensure everything is properly aligned.

Using a brad or screw, mark thru your pre-drilled holes onto the arms. Here you will need to drill a 1/16 inch pilot hole for the bearing blocks to attach to the arms.

Using the #4 x 1 inch screws, attach the bearing blocks to the blade arms. Make sure the blades spin easily. You can cut the screws to a shorter length if this helps with the attachment and ease of spinning.

Step 10: All Painted and Ready to Assemble

Test fit the rod into the hole in the end of the base and mark the depth on the rod.

Test assemble the arms and blade onto the rod along with all necessary hardware.

From the top of the third photo:

Set Screw Collar

1 - 1/4 inch metal washer

1 - 1st set of arms/blades with bearing blocks attached

1 - 1/4 inch metal washer

Spacers - I used some plastic spacers that came with a dual monitor stand. You can also use small diameter pvc pipe, or even lots of washers. A Spacer is needed to keep the counter rotating blades from touching each other while spinning. If they hit each other in a 15+ mph wind, the spinner will be destroyed. Try to allow at least an inch between the spinning blades.

1 - 1/4 inch metal washer

1 - 2nd set of arms/blades with bearing blocks attached

1 - 1/4 inch metal washer

This test assembly will tell you where you need to cut off your 1/4 inch rod. Mark the rod for cutting and take it all apart.

Now using epoxy you can insert some glue in the hole in the base and insert the 1/4 rod. When dry you can reassemble the mechanical parts from your test assembly.

Step 11: Final Steps - Balance and Pivot

Next we need to find the balance point of the wind spinner.

I used the edge of some scrap wood. You can also you a thing metal ruler, or a tri square works too.

When you find the balance, mark it and you will need to drill a hold for the pivot point.

In this case I used the plastic barrel from a cheap ink pen. The kind you can get a a big box store. (brand name rhymes with "nic").

The pen barrel is approximately 5/16 inch diameter, so drill accordingly for a snug fit.

Now you can mount your spinner on a post, or build a base and you can enjoy hours of wind driven entertainment!

Step 12:

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