Design Review Part 1 – Wooden Propeller

For my final project I am planning on making a propeller out of wood. I would like to make a propeller for my final project because I love all things aviation. Ever since I was young I have been fastened by flight. Some of my earliest memories are of planes; a majority of my toys growing up were even aircraft. I would fly them around all day and pretend it was me “behind the stick”. This lead me to want to become a pilot. I even had the opportunity to get behind the controls of a real airplane in 5th grade! To commemorate my love for aviation I want to make an art piece to hang in my office. I even plan to have the propeller spin, making the art dynamic should I chose.

My vision for this project is to create a three foot diameter model propeller that emulates an old aircraft prop. I love the aesthetic of these propellers, specifically the ones with symmetrical ends. For this reason I plan to replicate this style to the best of my ability. I was unable to find exact dimensions for these propellers, so I went about designing the curvature by “eyeballing it” in Solidworks. I was able to achieve the desired shape through the use of semicircles and splines which can be seen below.

Compared to the image below the CAD represents the shape of the blades very well.

I plan to fabricate the propeller from ash wood because of the aesthetic the grains present in this type of wood would bring to the project. I do not have a lot of experience with woodworking, but I spoke to Josh who runs the Idea Forge wood shop and he helped give me an idea of what the fabrication process will look like. First I plan to laser-cut out a stencil for the general shape of the propeller. I then plan to trace this outline onto the ash and band-saw out the design. I also plan to use the band-saw to taper the ends. Next I plan to drill the center hole in the prop and route out a 3-inch depression to house an aluminum “hub plate”. From there I will use hand-tools to carve out the general curvature of the blade. After I have achieved the desired curvature I will finish of the prop by sanding the entirety of the wood. After sanding and painting I will mount the blade assembly to a painted wood base via a shaft. I am going to paint the base the same color as the propeller tips so the aesthetics of both compliment each other. This process has changed slightly from my original plans which can be found in the image below.

Link to presentation:


“Colour Autochrome Lumière of a Nieuport Fighter in Aisne, France 1917.” Wikipedia,

“Stock Photo – Wood Aircraft Propeller and Radial Engine.” 123RF,

“Wooden Propellers.” Sensenich Propellers,


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • This is a great project as I have stated before and the planning/logistics you have done to carry on with this is exciting. I do know that you have since moved onto another idea due to the COVID-19 limitations to resources and access to professional equipment. However, I am certain that if you were to finish with this idea, that you would’ve been able to create an amazing product.

  • Justin Engbrecht
    March 11, 2020 11:47 am

    As a Neutral Question live critique, I asked Noah: “Since you weren’t able to find an exact propeller geometry, do you intend to emulate any specific propeller form?”

  • Rhys Rueffert
    March 11, 2020 11:37 am

    I’ve seen this as a wall decoration a lot. I like your ambition to create a form like that by hand. Letting it spin freely is a good forethought. What aesthetic specifically are you attempting here?

  • miles radakovitz
    March 11, 2020 11:34 am

    I really like that you are going to be making this mostly by hand as opposed to doing something like laser cutting and assembling layers!
    I like the intent to keep to aeronautical tradition with the paints you are choosing for your piece.


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