How to make a wood airplane propeller

Written by robert howard
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How to make a wood airplane propeller
Wooden propellers have been used to propel aircraft since the early 20th century. (propeller image by Tomasz Pawlowski from

Wood has been used to make aircraft propellers since the Wright brothers first took flight back in Kitty Hawk. Making a wooden aeroplane propeller involves building a block of wood out of which the propeller will be shaped. Once the propeller is roughly shaped from the wood, then it needs to be sanded, finished and polished. Consult a template to create a propeller with proper thrust.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Propeller template
  • Strips of hardwood material
  • Wood glue
  • Pencil
  • All-purpose glue
  • Metal flashing
  • Tin snips
  • Metal file
  • Chisel
  • Mallet
  • Drill press
  • Assorted drill bits
  • Angle grinder
  • Wood sanding disc
  • Wood sander
  • Assorted sandpapers
  • Cloth
  • Air compressor or aerosol dust remover
  • Varnish
  • Paint brush

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  1. 1

    Obtain a propeller template. There are a variety of online and printed templates available to the aeroplane manufacturer. Refer to the template as you work to derive the proper dimensions and curvature of the finished propeller.

  2. 2

    Create the wood block from which the propeller will be honed. A variety of different hardwoods can and have been used for propeller manufacturing, including mahogany, maple, walnut and oak.

  3. 3

    Cut and glue together several thin strips of wood until you have a rough block large enough from which to fabricate your propeller. Glue the strips of wood with wood glue and clamp them until the glue is fully dried.

  4. 4

    Affix your paper template plates to thin sheets of metal with all-purpose glue. Then cut the templates out of the metal with tin snips. Use a file to smooth rough edges and conform you metal pieces to the overlying paper templates. Generally you will want to create about 10 templates to mark the cross sections of your propeller.

  5. 5

    Mark out the general outline of the propeller on your wood block with a pencil. Use a handsaw to cut away the excess material from around the edges of your propeller outline.

  6. 6

    Drill out the hole through which the propeller will eventually be fitted to the aeroplane motor. Refer to the propeller template for the proper placement of the hole. Use a drill press fitted with the appropriate sized drill bit to create the hole.

  7. 7

    Chisel away excess material with a chisel and a mallet. Once you've removed the bulk of the excess material, start laying out and referring to your templates to learn where more material needs to be excised. Line your templates up on the 10 stations along the length of each propeller blade and use your chisel and an angle grinder fitted with a rough wood-sanding disc to remove the remaining excess material.

  8. 8

    Sand the propeller. Once you've got the form honed from your wood block, use a wood sander fitted with progressively smoother sandpaper as you work. Start with a rough grit paper, like 40 grit, and work your way to a finish paper of 600 grit or finer.

  9. 9

    Apply a waterproof varnish to the sanded propeller. Remove any sawdust from the propeller with a dry cloth, compressed air or an aerosol dust-removing product. Then use a paint brush to apply two coats of waterproof varnish.

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