How to Make a Decorative Propeller

Written by kate muir
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How to Make a Decorative Propeller
Decorative aeroplane propellers make unique gifts. (propeller image by Tomasz Pawlowski from

Wooden aeroplane propellers from the early days of human flight are a reminder of a romantic era of adventure. In recent years, there has been an interest in restoring and decorating wooden propellers to make unique and memorable gifts. Although it is possible to fabricate a new propeller in the style of an old aeroplane model, it is easier to use an old propeller. There are many wooden propellers available to decorate in your own fashion.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Old aeroplane propeller
  • Sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Varnish
  • Polish
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint scraper
  • Paper
  • Pencil crayons
  • Rag
  • Bracket system
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Pencil
  • Measuring Tape
  • Bright red bow

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  1. 1

    Purchase an old aeroplane propeller in the style that you prefer. The propellers are generally 8 feet in length but do exist in larger forms. If you can find an aviation shop in your local area, it may have an old propeller. You can also visit your local flea market or salvage yard to find old propellers.

  2. 2

    Using paint stripper and a paint scraper, remove the old paint and varnish. Use a rag to apply the paint stripper and let it sit on the propeller until the paint and varnish start to bubble before attempting to remove.

  3. 3

    Use the sander to remove the rest of the paint and varnish and smooth out the surface of the propeller. Hand sand difficult to reach areas with the sandpaper.

  4. 4

    Decide on the paint and varnish design for your decorative propeller by sketching propellers in a variety of colours on a piece of paper. A popular and traditional design is to paint the tips red and apply a natural wood stain to the rest of the propeller.

  5. 5

    Apply the paint or wood stain using paintbrushes. If you wish to create a straight edge or intricate design, attach patterns and/ or masking tape to assist. Let the first coat of paint dry before applying additional coats to reach the intensity of colour that you are seeking.

  6. 6

    Apply a coat of varnish over the paint and wood stain to protect the propeller and add a gloss finish.

  7. 7

    Polish the metal parts using silver or brass polish on a clean rag. It is now ready to mount to a wall.

  8. 8

    Use brackets to mount the decorative propeller on a wall. First, find the location of the wooden studs in the wall where you wish to hang the propeller. You can do this by softly tapping a hammer against the wall and listening for a difference in sound from hollow to solid. Next, determine the height to hang the propeller with a measuring tape. Mark the point with a pencil. Then place the bracket at that point and mark the points where the screws will be drilled. Use the electric drill to secure the bracket to the wall with screws. Attach the remaining pieces of the bracket to the wall fixture and to the centre of the propeller. The bracket will be strong enough to carry the weight of the full propeller.

  9. 9

    Wrap the propeller with a bright red bow to give as a gift if you don't plan to hang it in your own home for display.

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