How to Make an Airplane Whirligig

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Things You'll Need

  • Whirligig pattern

  • Reference picture of a P-51 Mustang

  • Exterior plywood, 1/2 inch by 11 inches by 30 1/2 inches

  • Pine board, 3/4 inches by 7 1/2 inches by 24 5/8 inches

  • Single engine 3-blade propeller hardware parts kit

  • Graphite transfer paper

  • 5/8 inch #18 gauge brads

  • Sandpaper

  • Wood glue

  • Stain blocking primer

  • White exterior primer

  • Paint

  • Scroll saw

  • Drill

  • Brad driver

  • Slotted screwdriver

  • Paint brushes

A whirligig is a yard decoration that has parts that move when the wind blows. It might spin on its base or have spinning pieces and could depict anything from a duck to a windmill. You can make a whirligig of your own that looks just like a World War II fighter plane. Your P-51 Mustang whirligig will spin on its base as the breeze blows. You can also add a propeller that spins in the wind. You can make an airplane whirligig in a single afternoon.


Step 1

Print the patterns for the nose, cockpit and tail of your whirligig. You can enlarge them before you print if you want to make a bigger airplane.

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Step 2

Transfer the patterns to the wood using the carbon paper. The horizontal stabilizer and wings go on the plywood and the fuselage goes on the pine. Flip the half-patterns over while you trace to make the full wing and stabilizer bits.

Step 3

Cut out the pieces you just traced with your scroll saw. Make sure that the slots in the fuselage match the thickness of your plywood.

Step 4

Assemble the whirligig body by inserting the horizontal stabilizer and the wings into the slots in the fuselage. Glue them in place with the wood glue. Allow the glue to dry completely as directed on the package.


Step 5

Assemble the propeller as directed in your kit. A propeller kit can be picked up at any model or craft store. Glue your propeller blades into the slots on the hub. Sand all of the plywood on your plane.

Step 6

Add the bushings to your propeller hub as directed by the kit. Insert one nylon-flanged bushing into each 1/4-inch hole on the hub. Drill a 7/64-inch diameter hole 1 1/8-inch deep into the front of the fuselage and attach the hub to the fuselage with the screw from the kit. Tighten the screw, but make sure the hub can still spin freely.


Step 7

Drill a 1/14-inch deep hole into the bottom of the fuselage. You can mount your whirligig to a rod inserted in this hole if you want it to spin.

Step 8

Paint your airplane whirligig. You can consult pictures of real P-51s and paint yours to match, or you can use your imagination and paint your airplane to look however you like. Start with a coat of stain-blocking primer to weatherproof your whirligig, add a coat of white primer and then paint the colors. Allow the paint to dry completely before you display your whirligig.


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