How do You Make a Propeller?

How do You Make a Propeller?

Any suggestions on how to cut propellers safely and easily on band saws, etc.? – George Bohman

Chris Marshall: I’ve never made a propeller before, so I’m not the best person to suggest a method. But, speculating about it, I’d probably cut the basic outer shape of the propeller on a band saw with the workpiece laying flat. Then, I’d switch to different tools in order to introduce the pitch across each blade. I’d never attempt to tip a workpiece up on edge at the band saw to make those pitched cuts … it’s just asking for trouble. Spokeshaves, rasps, a belt sander or even an angle grinder come to mind for doing that shaping work. Of course, my end result would be a rough facsimile of a real propeller at best, and passable for a toy part or a maybe a wall decoration. Trying to achieve the balance, strength and aerodynamics required for a truly functional wooden propeller would be way, way beyond my skill set.

Rob Johnstone: I am assuming that you are talking about making a propeller for a toy plane … not an actual piston-powered airplane. If that is the case, it is not too hard. I made one for a toy plane project in the December 2010 print issue of Woodworker’s Journal. For that toy, I simply cut a 3/16-in.-thick slice of wood, ripped it to 7/8-in. wide, and cut it off at 3-1/2-in. At that point, I simply sanded the ends round, sanded a couple little arcs into the middle of the long edges, drilled the hole for a small peg to hold it to the plane, and I was done. With toys, the goal really is to create the impression of the propeller, without getting too worried about being 100 percent accurate to what a propeller actually looks like on a real plane. I hope this helps.

 

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    For small propellers, I’d recommend a scroll saw to allow those tight curves. After the propeller is cut out, if you want to have a somewhat realistic pitch to the blades, using small or needle files will do the job. Be careful not to get the edge too sharp. ,