Crafts,  Painting,  Scrollsaw,  Yard Art

Making an Eagle Whirligig

We see a LOT of eagles in our neck of the woods. There is a fish hatchery just down the road. That could have something to do with it. They patrol the edge of the lake looking for fish. Every once in a while we actually see them dive into the lake for fish. They often park themselves on the highest tree on the edge of the water. So beautiful. We decided to build a whirligig, and what better than an eagle for our first kick at the can.

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American bald eagle fishing for breakfast

We sell quite a few whirligig plans, a wide assortment really, so we didn’t have far to go to get a pattern. We settled on the eagle plan, seeing as it is the most popular whirligig seller, and printed out the pattern to take to the workshop.

Just trace and cut

Once the pattern was traced onto the wood, Jim got to work cutting out the pieces. For the wings, we used pressure treated plywood, and for the body we used pressure treated 1 1/2 inch thick lumber. No sense going to all the trouble of building it for outdoors and not using exterior grade materials. It wouldn’t last near as long.

For this project, we used the bandsaw and scroll saw to cut out the pattern.

Following the lines of the pattern

Here are all of the parts cut and sanded ready for paint. You can see two sets of wings and the body.

Taking shape

Before I got started on the painting, Jim put it together and mounted it on a post. You know, for a trial run. It wasn’t a really windy day but when the wings did turn, the very tips rubbed on the post. Jim made adjustments to the post, meaning he shaved it down to eliminate the problem. Or so we thought.

Now on to paint.

Painting the wings first

Here I have the brown and yellow finished and was getting ready to paint the white. Each color required two coats to get the best coverage. Oh, and I used exterior grade paint. After all, we don’t plan to use this whirligig in the house.

Next up, white paint

The white actually took 3 coats to get full coverage. Once that was dry I used a black paint pen to finish the eyes and give a little detail.

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Paint pen makes it easy to do detail work.

And here are the three parts awaiting assembly.

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Ready for assembly.

It was back to the workshop to put this all together. There is a rod and spacers and washers holding it all together.

Doing surgery on the eagle

Here it is in place. We decided to set it up in the fruit tree bed.

Eagle Whirligig

Even with the 1 1/2 inch spacers and the post shaved down the wings were still hitting the post when the wind caught it from a certain angle. In the workshop Jim took it all apart again and we doubled up the spacers. He cut the spacers in a cone shape this time, just to pretty it up a little bit. You can also see the pivot hardware Jim used to mount the bird to the post. Its actually a 4 inch swivel type wheel. No doubt he dug it out from his pile of stuff.

New thicker spacer

I had to get the paint out again but it was worth it for this to spin freely. It looks really cool spinning. And the day we set it up was extremely windy. I was afraid he might take flight.

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Touching up with paint.
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Eagle Whirligig completed.

Before I go, next time you are in a hurry for a pencil and it has a broken lead, don’t they all, try this…

It’s sharp now

…just go slow or you will just have an eraser left in your hand.



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