Uncle Sam Outdoor Whirligig

Create a treasure that everyone will enjoy.

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DecoArt Americana Colors

This whirligig will add lots of patriotic spirit to your garden.
  • AS Base Flesh DA136
  • BS Burnt Sienna DA63
  • BU Burnt Umber DA64
  • BY Blueberry DA37
  • DM Deep Midnight Blue DA166
  • GS Gray Sky DA111
  • LB Lamp Black DA67
  • SR Santa Red DA170
  • TW Titanium White DA1
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Eagle brushes, Millennium series

  • #10 synthetic flat
  • #4 synthetic flat
  • 1/2-inch synthetic angular shader
  • 1/4-inch synthetic angular shader
  • #0 synthetic liner


  • 1 x 8 x 24-inch pine (body and base)
  • 4 x 4 x 3-inch pine (stand)
  • 1/2 x 7 x 8-inch Baltic birch plywood
  • 3/4 x 4-3/4-inch dowel
  • Eight 5/8-inch stainless steel nails
  • One 1-1/2-inch stainless steel nail
  • Two #9 x 2-inch brass washers
  • 1 ball bearing (B.B.)
  • 3 x 3/16-inch brass tube
  • Wood sealer
  • Waterproof wood glue
  • 5-minute epoxy
  • Exterior varnish
  • Scrollsaw
  • Tablesaw
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper (100- and 150-grit)
  • Tack cloth


1. Download the free patterns for this project (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software).

Uncle Sam Whirligig pattern

Assembly directions

Download Adobe Acrobat

2. Enlarge the Uncle Sam Whirligig pattern 140 percent.

3. Using a scrollsaw with a #5R blade, cut the body from 1 inch pine and arms from 1/8-inch Baltic birch plywood. Use a table saw or a radial-arm saw to cut the base of the stand and the arm connectors from 1-inch pine. Cut the stand from 4-inch pine. Drill all holes where shown on the exploded-view diagram (the Uncle Sam Whirligig pattern).

4. Sand all surfaces with 100- and then 150-grit sandpaper; remove the sanding dust with a tack cloth. Apply waterproof wood glue to the narrow end of each arm, then insert the arm into the arm connector slot until it seats; secure with 5/8-inch stainless steel nails. Clean up any extra glue before it dries.

5. Cut two pieces of brass tube 3/4 inch long and epoxy each brass tube in a connector for the arms. The tube should extend slightly beyond the connector on each side of the hole. Clean up any adhesive that may be inside the tube. Secure the dowel in the body with wood glue; reinforce the bond with a 1-1/8-inch stainless steel nail from the back of the body.

6. Install the B.B. into the hole in the bottom of the feet. Epoxy the remaining brass tube (1-1/2-inch long) into the hole in the feet, hammering it down until the tube stops at the B.B. The tube should be nearly hidden in the body. Do not attach the arms to the dowel until the whirligig is completely painted and varnished.

7. To spin easily, arm assemblies should be balanced before painting. Temporarily install arms. Gently spin first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. The arm should stay in the position in which it stops. If it returns to just one position, it is unbalanced. By sanding small amounts of wood from the arm section that stops at the bottom, it will eventually become balanced.

8. Glue and nail the stand pieces together, centering the stand over the stand base. Drill a hole 2 inches deep in the center of the stand as shown on the diagram. Apply wood sealer to all surfaces; let it dry. Sand again, and wipe clean.

Painting Instructions:

1. Base-coat #10 and #4 flat brushes, using the size that best fits the area.

2. Float shading and highlighting with 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch angular shader brushes. Paint small areas and apply details with a #0 liner brush.

3. Transfer the main pattern lines to Uncle Sam. (Cut a hole in the pattern to go over the dowel rod.) There's no need to copy the details yet -- you'll base coat-over them.

4. Base-coat Uncle Sam's jacket BY. Base-coat his gloves TW, and float BY shading next to his sleeves. Dilute TW with water to ink consistency and, using a #0 liner brush, paint the braid on all sides of the sleeves, along the collar, and around the belt at the back of his jacket. Float DM shading along the outside of his collar, around his belt, and down the center of his coattails in back. Paint TW stars on his belt and Uncle Sam's sleeves; dot the center of each star with SR.

5. Base-coat his hatband BY. Base-coat the rest of his hat, his pants, his shirt, and his vest TW. Paint one BY stripe in the center on each side of his pants. Paint all remaining stripes on his pants and on his hat SR. (Notice that the stripes get wider toward the top of his pants and his hat.) Float BY shading on the top of the hat brim, under his jacket on his pants, and inside his pants pockets. Float BY shading on his shirt and his vest where shown on the pattern.

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