How to Build a Windmill

Some windmills are very large, so they might seem difficult to build. Though the project will likely take time and the assistance of several people, building a basic windmill is not that difficult. If you want a way to utilize wind energy on your property, you should probably invest in a modern windmill or buy a windmill kit. Homemade windmills are capable of providing wind power, but they are probably not efficient enough to offer homeowners significant energy savings. However, if you love the look of windmills and you want one for decorative purposes, you can build your own in a relatively short time.

The purpose of a windmill is to use the rotating blades to turn wind power into usable energy. In the past, the energy from the mills was used to pump water and grind grain. Modern windmills are connected to a circuit board that provides electrical energy. Windmills used by large power companies are fairly high-tech. They include turbines and are made from special lightweight, industrial materials. Collections of these modern windmills dot the landscape throughout the country.

Most people who want to build their own windmills are planning to construct a classic windmill like those used for pumping water and grinding. A basic windmill has four basic components: the base, the tower, the nacelle, and the wind blades. Nacelle is another name for gearbox. The nacelle controls the blade movement.

Make the Windmill Blades

Start by constructing the blades. The blades are used to capture the energy from the wind and they are the exterior part of the windmill that move. Blades can be purchased pre-made or you can carve them yourself from lightweight wood or plastic. The blade size is determined by the size and height of the tower and the base. Blades for a five foot windmill should be no longer than three feet.

The base should be the heaviest part of the windmill because it will need to ground the mill and prevent it from falling or swaying when the blades turn. You can build a base from a heavy piece of wood or create a hollow base using several pieces of plywood. A base for a five foot windmill should weigh at least 20 pounds. Remember, the heavier the base, the sturdier the finished structure.

 Build the Windmill Tower

Once the base is complete, you can build the tower. The tower can be as simple as four pieces of plywood joined together at the corners. It can also be a single two-by-four board that connected the blades to the base. Consider using PVC piping if your windmill is going to be outside and you do not want to treat the wood to make it weather resistant.

If your windmill is very basic, you can us a shaft to connect the blades to the tower. The effect is the same, but a simple shaft is unlikely to generate much energy. The turning of the blades and the windmill itself will be merely decorative.


Building a windmill for fun is a great way to learn about energy and study the industrialization of manufacturing. If you are working with students, consider assigning them the task of building miniature wind mills. The process is the same, but the materials are less expensive and the construction is less labor intensive.

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