Introduction: Water Wheel

This water wheel was a school project that I built from scratch. It was a great project that anyone can do.


  • Pen/Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Square
  • Tape measure
  • Combination Square
  • Mitre Saw
  • Circular Saw
  • Router
  • Angle Grinder
  • Drill Press
  • Oil/Grease
  • Cordless drill
  • Sander - 80 grit
  • Air Compressor
  • Glue gun with 100% Silicone
  • 2x 3/4" galvanized wall flange
  • 2x 3/4" galvanized pipe nipples
  • Metalex
  • Decking Oil
  • 45mm drill bit
  • 45mm PVC Pipe

Wood Needed

  • 50mm x 100mm Pine H4 Wet Timber - 17m
  • 50mm x 150mm Pine H4 Wet Timber - 6m
  • 19mm Marine Plywood H3.2 - 1 Sheet
  • 100mm x 100mm Pine H4 Wet Timber - 1.55m

Heavy Duty Timber Screws

  • 14g x 75mm
  • 14g x 100mm

Treated Timber Screws

  • 10g x 100mm
  • 10g x 50mm

Step 1: Step 1: Spokes

Cut 2 50mm x 100mm at 1200mm long for the main spokes of the water wheel. Cut a half lap joint in the center of each board. Make it the width of each board and make sure you go half way through. You can do this on a mitre saw by screwing the screw down onto a little bit of steel. This is just behind the motor. If the screwing goes tight the little black nut needs to be screwed up. This is to stop it from moving. Cut 4 50mm x 100mm at 529mm long for the spokes of the water wheel. Next mark half way at one end of the 8x 529mm boards that you have just cut. Then draw two 45 degree angles from the mark you have just made to the sides of the board. Then cut on the marks. Join the 2 main spokes together for one side of the water wheel. Screw them together with the 10g x 50mm treated timber screws. Put one in each corner on either side. Sit the other 4 spokes with the 45 degree angle in the corners of the 2 main spokes in the center. Do not screw them in.

Step 2: Step 2: Sides

Measure between each spoke at the top from corner to corner. This measurement should be around 360mm. Cut each board of 50mm x 150mm on a 22.5 degree angle. Make sure the angles are facing inwards. Put the sides in at the top of the spokes. Make sure they all fit evenly and there are no gaps or they are a very tight fit. If this happens the spokes are not even and not perfectly fitting. If they are and they are still not fitting you have cut the sides at different lengths or different angles. If they do not fit right measure between the gap and cut a new one. Screw the sides onto the spokes with the 14g x 75mm heavy duty timber screws. Make sure you hammer it in a little bit first. This is to get exactly where you want the screw. Do not screw the 4 spokes that are angled cut. You can predrill the holes for the screws if you are afraid of the wood splitting. If the sides do not fit perfect, measure between the gap and cut a new one.

Step 3: Step 3: Build the Other Side

Build the other side of the water wheel now using steps 1 – 9. Sand down both sides once you have built the other side and then metalex both sides. Make sure you use lots of the Metalex on the joins because this is where the water wheel will rot if you don’t put enough on. This is only a protector not a stain.

Step 4: Step 4: Hub

Cut 4 pieces of 50mm x 150mm at 289mm. This is for the hub. Screw these in a box using butt joints and the 14g x 75mm heavy duty timber screws. Make sure the cut side is facing outwards and you screw into the sides of the boards. Also cut two hub keys to put in the top and the bottom of the hub. Make sure they fit inside as a tight fit. Screw the hub key onto the center of the waterwheel using the 10g x 100mm treated timber screws. Then put the hub over the hub key. Turn the water wheel over and screw the wheel to the hub using the 14g x 100mm. Also screw the other hub key to the other side of the water wheel using the 10g x 100mm treated timber screws.

Step 5: Step 5: Buckets

Cut 8 buckets out of the 19mm marine plywood at 600mm long and 200mm wide with a 45 degree bevel cut at the end. Make sure it is 600mm on the long side. Make sure each cut is the same. Screw the buckets together with the 45 degree angle against the other bucket. Once you have laid out each bucket draw an outline of the buckets and cut a dado joint with the circular saw and router. Cut them out by putting long saw cuts on the inside edge of the pencil marks at a 10mm deep. Router out the inside of the saw marks. To keep the router straight clamp a board on to the water wheel and make sure the router is going straight inside the saw cuts. Metalex the buckets and the groves. Next screw the water wheel to the buckets by putting two screws into each spoke using the 10g x 100mm treated timber screws. One should go into the bucket on the edge and the other into the end of the next spoke. Also put a screw in the middle of the 50mm x 150mm sides because the they are still floppy using the 10g x 100mm treated timber screws.

Step 6: Step 6: Paint/Oil/Stain

If you what to stain, paint or oil the water wheel, unscrew the water wheel to make it so you have got the buckets and sides separate. Then you can stain, paint or oil easily. I used decking oil because it is waterproof.

Step 7: Step 7: Completing the Main Part of Water Wheel

Blow out the buckets using the air compressor before sealing the gaps. Use 100% silicone for sealing the gaps in the buckets. Put silicone into the groves where the buckets sit. This doesn’t have to be lots, it only have to be enough to seal the buckets of so no water can get in the middle of the water wheel. Also put some along the end of the buckets. Make sure you put silicone along the joints where the sides join to the main spokes. Use your fingers to flatten it out and make it look nice. Silicone in the grooves of the other side of the water wheel. Make sure you work fast because it dries out quickly. Screw the side to the hub same as you did to the other side. Also screw it to the buckets the same as the other side.

Step 8: Step 8: Flanges

Mark the center of the water wheel. This is the most important measurement so if you do not have right in the center it will not turn evenly. Do this on both sides. Fit and screw the wall flanges onto both sides the water wheel using the heavy duty timber screws. When turning it over you can stand it up Make sure they are 100% center. Once you have done this then screw in the pipe nipples.

Step 9: Step 9: What It Should Look Like

Step 10: Step 10: Stands

Cut 2 100mm x 100mm at 721mm long. Next cut 2 50mm x 100mm at 600mm long. This is for the frame to hold up the water wheel. Cut 2 squares with the 150mm x 150mm at 150mm long and then cut them in half from corner to corner. Metalex each board and then screw the boards together with 2 screws in the post and one from the top of the support going into the bottom. Also screw one from the support to the post. All using the 14g x 100mm heavy timber screws. Drill a 45mm hole, 70mm from the top and jam a 100mm long 45mm PVC pipe. This is to hold the galvanized pipe.

Step 11: Step 11: Finishing Touches

Lift the water wheel and put the galvanized pipe through the holes in the frame. You will probably need two people. Cut the galvanized pipe that sticks out the side with the angle grinder. Do not cut it hard against the stand. Make sure you have got about 10mm left sticking out. Once you put it all together, stop it moving and let it go. If it turns by itself, the weight is uneven. To change this you can add little bits of steel either in the buckets or on a side that can't be seen. Put lots of oil or grease in the PVC pipe. This will stop it from wearing out fast and make the water wheel turn easier. Now you have finished the water wheel.

Step 12: Step 12: Completed!!!