Making Your Own Wind Vane Making Your Own Wind Vane

You can make a wind vane for a potting shed, deck or garden for decoration. Also called "weather vanes," these tools have been used for centuries to determine which way the wind is blowing. Farmers use weather vanes so they can know what kind of weather to expect based on wind direction.

A wind vane is really just a piece of wood or metal on a swivel. The flat piece (or blade) catches the wind and points away and toward the wind, indicating wind direction. Wind direction is always described in terms of where the wind is blowing from, not toward. For instance, a west wind will blow east. The front of the weathervane should always face in the direction the wind is blowing from.

What You'll Need to Make a Garden Wind Vane

  • A 3x3-foot piece wood for the vane blade, 1-inch wide
  • Jig or coping saw
  • Swivel and mounting hardware (if mounting to a house or structure)
  • Plastic or metal letters N, W, E, S to indicate wind direction 
  • Wood or metal dowel or rod (¼-inch diameter)
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill and 1/4-inch drill bits
  • A 4-inch-by-inch wood ball or post base

Step 1 - Cut Out Your Design

Trace your design onto the material you are using for the weathervane's blade. Use a jig or coping saw to cut out the shape, and sand the edges smooth. Your blade can be flat or 3-dimensional, depending on your artistic and skill levels. Paint and decorate your blade.

Step 2 - Find Your Blade's Balance Point

Once you have finished decorating your blade, you'll need to find the balance point. This is the place on the bottom of the blade where it will balance on your finger with its weight evenly distributed.

Once you find this spot, drill a vertical hole (if it is wood) at least 2-inches long and as straight as possible (use a drill press if you have one). The weight of the blade should be evenly centered forward and back.

Step 3 - Attach Your Rod or Dowel to the Blade

Enlarge the blade hole to make it larger and loose enough for your dowel or rod to turn freely. Insert your dowel or rod into the blade and make sure it turns freely. Use sandpaper to narrow the dowel where it fits inside the blade if it is too tight, or use the drill to enlarge the hole more if using a metal rod.

Step 4 - Attach Your Rod or Dowel and Lettering to Your Base

Once your blade and dowel work correctly, attach the bottom of the dowel to the ball or post base. This base should not move. The letters should be screwed, glued or permanently attached or carved into the base, since they indicate the directions of the earth.

Step 5 - Attach the Base

Now that you have your windvane and base, you can attach it to a more permanent structure, such as a roof or deck railing, or to a pole or fence rail. You can secure it with screws, brackets or other hardware as needed. Make sure your blade has a clear, unobstructed path to the wind and turns freely.

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