How to Make Rotor Blades

Written by joanne robitaille
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How to Make Rotor Blades
Rotor blades are attached to a central spinning hub. (close up of wind-turbine rotors image by thomas owen from

Rotor blades have a great many uses. Among these, they keep helicopters aloft and power wind turbine generators. While wood and metal are viable options for building rotor blades, PVC pipes can be used as an alternative building material. PVC pipes are relatively inexpensive and don't require a lot of specialised tools in order to shape them into rotor blades. They're also far easier to replace if they become damaged. The configuration of the rotor blades and their use plays a determining factor in their design.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Masking tape
  • PVC pipe
  • Permanent marker
  • Hacksaw or jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Create a template for your rotor blades. Your rotor blades can take several shapes, but the blades are generally angled inward from their widest point creating a slightly triangular shape. If your project has a specific blade shape, use that for your template. Draw the rotor blades out full scale, which may mean taping several pieces of paper together to get the proper size.

  2. 2

    Cut out your template. Mark the centre line of rotor blade and the location of any holes that need to be drilled to attach it to the hub. On all rotor blades, the surface of the blade angles away from the centre line in order to improve the aerofoil effect.

  3. 3

    Tape the template to the PVC pipe. The template needs to be oriented so that the centre line of the template matches a centre line of the pipe. Outline the shape of the rotor blades onto the pipe with permanent marker.

  4. 4

    Cut out the rotor blades. PVC pipes are easily cut using either a hacksaw (hand powered) or jigsaw (electric), so use whatever tool you feel the most comfortable with. Keep the lines as straight as possible when cutting.

  5. 5

    Drill a hole at the end of the rotor blade where it will be attached to the hub. Depending on the configuration of the blades, this might be directly on the centre line or else slightly offset.

  6. 6

    Sand down the edges so that the rotor blades are completely smooth. Remove any scraps of PVC that are clinging to the interior of the bolt hole. If the edges of the rotor blades are smooth enough to the touch without sanding, simply wipe down the sides with your hands to remove the excess PVC scraps.

  7. 7

    Paint the rotor blades to suit your project. A quick coat of white paint is all that's necessary to remove any printing on the pipe, but otherwise you can decorate it however you see fit.

Tips and warnings

  • Check to make sure that your rotor blades are all the same size and have the same curve before installing them.

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