Building a Wooden Whirligig

The word is a little silly isn’t it? Whirligig! Well, it might not be surprising to learn that a whirligig is kind of an entertaining item. What it is, is simple. It uses the wind to animate a small cutout of a figure that preforms some sort of action again and again. It could be someone sawing at wood, swinging a golf club, or performing any type of simple action, and to be honest, it’s very mesmerizing to just follow the figure’s movements again and again for a few hours.

The best part is, while it might have a few moving parts to its credit, it is surprisingly easy to make with a DIY whirligig plan. You can find a full plan online at sites like, but we’re going to go over the basics here.

First, you’ll need to gather some supplies, such as wood and tools to cut it. Then get started on the whirligig. Now the entire device works when wind is blowing, and for that you need to make a propeller. For our project it’s going to be mounted on the side of the Whirligig. Creating a propeller is about as easy as you’d expect, so cut out five trapezoids from the wood and make sure they are the same size. These will serve as the blades of your propeller.

Then attach four of the blades to a circular dowel with glue, and let them rest. The fifth trapezoid is going to be used in a moment. You’ll build up the platform that your whirligig will rest on and that last trapezoid will be the tail vane for the propeller.

Next have a flat platform of wood, with a cube of wood at one end. This will be where your propeller will rest. Attach the dowel to a small wooden cylinder and drill a hole into the cube to ensure it fits. On the other side of the cube, opposite the propeller, will be a wheel that is attached to your figure with coat hanger wire or other wire.

The propeller turns, which turns the wheel, which manipulates the figure and makes the Whirligig move and do whatever action you’ve assigned it. Now the figurine is the trickiest part, because depending on what you want the figurine to do, the process of building it will be different. But that wire from earlier is attached to the hinge in the figurine, and when the wire is manipulated through the wheel turning, that is what makes the figure move.

You can look online for hundreds of options for figures and the actions you can make them do for all eternity, or you can understand the basic principles and try to build a custom one yourself. No matter what, you’ll be left with something that you’ll always be able to stare at whenever you just need to let time fade away.

Doing a DIY whirligig plan might seem impossible, but just take your time and you’ll soon have one of your own!

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