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How to make propellers out of paper...

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A Paper Propeller


Back in 2009 when Wingnutwings released their first kits I was inspired to build their LVG C.VI kit. At the time I puzzled how to re-create the multi-colored laminated wood propeller. Keeping the lamination lines straight when viewed from the side makes painting them very difficult. Eventually I decided to laminate different colored sheets of wood together and carve my own prop. This worked at recreating the lamination pattern but I was never really satisfied with this method. When viewed up close the grain pattern of the wood looks out of scale and creating the very thin pieces of wood needed involves a lot of work with the planer. (a tool that a lot of modelers probably don’t have). Eight years later I have decided to try again for my build of the Wingnutwings Roland D.VI.
Reasoning that a sheet of paper is like a very thin piece of veneer I decided to make my laminations out of colored paper.1paper.jpg

I got some brown and tan colored paper at the craft store and cut it into 1†by 4†strips. The paper I used took three strips to build up the thickness of one of the seven layers. 21 strips stacked up makes the full thickness of the prop in 1/32nd scale.

Next I ran a bead of super glue down the center of each strip and quickly stacked them up on the pad of a wood clamp. I tightened the clamp until the layers were nicely squished together and let it cure overnight. (there is a small fire hazard with super glue and organic matter you might want to leave the clamp outside while the glue cures). 2laminated.jpg

I traced the kit propeller onto the top of the paper stack and drilled a hole for the propeller shaft. 3traced.jpg

Next I cut along the outline with a scroll saw.http:4cutout.jpg

Next I carved the taper into the blank. The stack of paper will carve a lot like wood so cut from the hub toward the tip. Think about the pressure of the tool pushing the layers together as you cut.5tapered.jpg

After you have the taper established, carve the twist into the blades. If the paper starts to shred, switch blades or use a little thin super glue to solidify the area you are working on. The paper can be filed and sanded like wood but pay attention to the grain so that you don’t pull the laminations apart or tear out chunks of paper between the glue lines.6twisted.jpg

I sealed the prop with Tamiya clear tinted with a little clear orange.7_Finis.jpg

top: a basswood prop I made back in 2009                                             bottom: a new paper propeller


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Guest Paul Budzik

Wonderful idea!  I love to see modelers use materials other than plastic and paper is a great material. :goodjob:



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Smart work.  Nice problem-solving.  Thinking outside of the box to solve a problem is rewarding.  Good show.




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