Pinwheel From Soda Cans

About: Hello - I am the scientist formerly known as Naegeli and of course I was inspired by the artist formerly known as Prince. But in contrast to his royal badness I do not want be become the king of pop but the ...

Just in time for the breezy days …. make this aluminum pinwheel with nothing more than flattened aluminum sheets from soda cans.

Why aluminum sheets? …… because your outdoor decor project face a tough life due to exposure to sun, rain, wind and other elements. You do not have to think about using the right kind of waterproof glue and durable finishes because this project does not need any glue at all. Every part is just fixed together with staples.

Step 1: Parts List

For this soda can pinwheel you need the following items:

  • Flatten Soda Cans Sheets (see Instructables: Flatten Soda Cans)
  • 2 Grill Sticks (Bamboo Skewers) (18 cm & 4.5 cm)
  • Utility Knife
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Adhesive tape
  • 2 Head Pins
  • Pliers
  • Electric Drill
  • Edding marker
  • Ruler

Optional (for the concrete stand):

The pinwheel can be put directly into a flower pot. A second solution is to fix it on the handrail of your balcony (see Instructables: Soda Can Wind Spinner). The third version that is the one presented her to make a concrete stand so you can put the pinwheel on a table.

  • Concrete and sand
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • Cigarette lighter
  • Soda can
  • 1 Grill stick (10 cm)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Plastic bag

Step 2: The Process (4 Parts)

Start by downloading the template for the aluminum parts. The template is attached to this Instructable as a pdf-file. The process can divided in four major steps:

  1. The Fin
  2. The T-Connector
  3. The Pinwheel
  4. Optional: The concrete stand

Step 3: The Fin

The fin is needed so that the pinwheel always turns into the wind. Start with the transfer of the template to a piece of cardboard. Place the cardboard on the aluminum sheets and draw along the silhouette with an edding marker. Use scissors to cut out the aluminum pieces for the fin (Part 1 on the template). Shorten the grill stick to the desired length (18 cm).

Bend the edges on the front end of the fin to form the final fin. Insert the aluminum arrow into the flaps of the fin (see video). Then enter the grill stick and fix it with the stapler. You can use pliers to tighten the staples. And that’s already everything you have to do to finish the fun part…. sorry the fin part …. the fun goes on (is somebody really reading this text?).

Step 4: The T-Connector

So we move on to prepare the T-Connector. Cut out the two pieces from the template labeled as “part 2”. Bend both parts in the center over the grill stick. Do not fix the parts too tight but rather a little loose around the grill stick so that the parts can turn freely later. Place both parts into each other to form the T-connector and then fix this construction with the stapler. Remove overlapping aluminum pieces with scissors.

Now let’s combine the fin and the T-Connector. Place the end of the grill stick from the fin over the T-connector and fix it with the stapler.

In order that the T-connector can rotate a piece of adhesive tape is rolled around the grill stick. Repeat that step on the upper part so the fin cannot fly away in heavy wind. Shorten overlapping adhesive tape with scissors.

Step 5: The Pinwheel

Cut the pieces for part 3 from the template. Use the Edding marker and ruler to draw two diagonal lines on the aluminum square from corner-to-corner. Cut with scissors from one corner along the diagonal line 6 cm in the direction of the center. Repeat along the remaining corners. Do not cut all the way to the center, or your pinwheel will fall apart. Make a small hole with scissors in the center of the square.

Punch holes on 4 alternating flaps (of the 8 total flaps)(check on the template).

Shorten another piece of a grill stick to form the axis for the pinwheel (4.5 cm). This piece should rotate freely in the T-Connector. Now cut off the head of a pin. Use the pin like a drill in a drilling machine. Make a small hole in the grill stick where you fix the pinwheel later. Remove the pin from the grill stick with pliers.

Fold alternating flaps into the center dot of the pinwheel and put a head pin through. Do not fold the aluminum flaps completely. You want to remain it curved. This step can be tricky since the points like to escape if you are not holding them tight – so patience is the key. Then push the pin into the grill stick where you have made the small hole. Place the end of the rotating axis into the T-Connector and again fix it with adhesive tape.

Step 6: Optional: the Concrete Stand

Reduce a soda can to half of its size. Punch a hole in the bottom part. Cover a grill stick piece (around 10 cm) with some heat shrink tubing. Use a cigarette lighter to the shrink the tubing. Put the stick into the hole of the bottom part and fix it with a glue gun.

Mix concrete with sand (1:3) in a plastic bag and then fill the soda can to the top. Let harden the concrete overnight. Then remove the soda can. As the concrete is not completely hardened yet, one can smooth en the surface of the concrete with some piece of metal (pliers) or sanding paper. Take out the grill stick and shorten the shrink tubing. Place the pinwheel in the concrete stand and you are done.

Step 7: The End

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