Alex’s room is done in an airplane theme. No surprise right? Anyway, I wanted to make something unique for his room, and it turned out that we needed an end table next to the rocking chair. I thought that something which looked like a jet engine would be cool. I wanted a fan or compressor section to be the top of the table and a turbine section to be the base. It was to be connected by a metal shaft.
I tried finding non-airworthy jet parts online but had no luck. I decided I had to build some kind of replica myself. I wanted to use metal parts where possible, but I didn’t have the budget or the necessary tools to make everything look right. I ended up settling on wood. It is cheap, easy to work with, and sufficiently strong.
1/2″ MDF was used as the center wheel. I drilled a hole and mounted it to my dril press with a bolt. This gave me a vertical axis lathe so that I could carve the details into the turbine wheel. I then used a scroll saw to cut 60, 45 degree slots around the edge to mount the blades in. I cut the blades from 1/16″ balsa wood. I then glued them into place around the wheel. Once it was dry, I wrapped and glued two strips of balsa around the blades to form an outer rim and support the ends of the blades. After this came a lot of shellac and sanding to get it smooth. I then sanded a piece of pipe in my drill press lathe and bolted it to the base. This can be seen in the picture below.
I needed a top, so I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased an artistic license and some additional balsa wood. I glued two pieces of MDF together so I had a thicker fan for a top. I cut out 20 balsa blades and then soaked them in water overnight so I could bend them into shape. I used a dremel to cut 20-3″ radius slots in the edge of the fan wheel. I then glued the fan blades into place and glued a strip around the edge for strength. Once again, I went through a lot of sandpaper and shellac. I sunk a few socket head cap screws into the wheel for additional effect. The center bolt holds the table top to the shaft. A piece of 1/4″ glass tops it all off. A piece of plexiglass covers the base to allow it to be used as storage as well. My wife thought it looked neat unpainted, so I left it alone for now. I will definitely make more in the future. It was a fun project and you can never have too much airplane stuff.