How to make whirligigs from cans

Updated November 21, 2016

Whirligigs are simple structures with thin, splayed sails that turn a central body. Heavy-duty or industrial materials produce whirligigs as part of a gear system, but light whirligigs made of recycled materials often decorate gardens. Though whirligig crafts often involve soft drink and water bottles, you can easily modify these plans to make drink can whirligigs.

Rinse two cans thoroughly to remove any residue of the drink.

Punch a hole in the centre of the bottom of both cans with an awl. The hole doesn’t need to be very large; the width of the awl works fine.

Draw a line around the top of each can about 6.5 mm (1/4 inch) from the bend between the top and the body of the can. Cut along this line with a hacksaw, sawing slowly and gently to avoid crushing the cans.

Draw six to eight straight lines down the body of each can, spacing them as evenly as you can. Stop each line about 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inches) from the bottom of the can.

Cut along these lines and splay the resulting sails so they stick out from the cans at a 90-degree angle.

Snip the hook off a coat hanger and straighten out the remaining wire. Bend the wire down at a 90-degree angle about 15 cm (6 inches) from the top. Bend this piece back over itself about 10 cm (4 inches) from the end, to create a T-shape at the top of your wire.

Slip one can onto each of the arms of the "T." Reach inside the cans with pliers and bend the tips of the "T" arms to keep the cans in place.

Wrap the remaining wire tightly around the top of a 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) dowel rod.


Sharpen one end of your dowel in a pencil sharpener to make it easy to drive it into the ground to display your whirligig.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 Empty drink cans
  • Awl
  • Permanent marker
  • Hacksaw
  • Scissors
  • Coat hanger
  • Wire nips
  • Pliers
  • 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) dowel rod
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