How to Make a Wooden Airplane Mobile for Your Nursery

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In our home, we're getting ready for the arrival of a new baby. It's an exciting time!

I decided to make something unique for our child's nursery, and after bouncing around a  few ideas, I chose to make a wooden airplane mobile.

Since we live in an apartment, I don't have a garage full of power tools to work with or a substantial amount of space.

So if you're in a similar situation this tutorial is just for you. You can do pretty much the entire thing while sitting at your dinning table.

If you get stuck on any step just let me know in the comments below.

Learn how to make an airplane mobile for a nursery

Supplies

Here's everything you'll need to make your own wood airplane mobile:

Supplies you'll need to make an airplane mobile

Making the Airplanes

 Step 1: Trace & Cut out Airplanes

First, find an airplane you want to model your planes after. You can use fighter jets, WWII planes, or even biplanes if you get creative. What you'll need is a side profile of the plane and a top/bottom view of the plane.

Cut out airplanes from balsa wood

If you want to use mine just scroll to the bottom of this post and download it. Be sure to print it on card stock paper.

Now, in case you don't already know this, balsa wood is extremely light, that's one of the reasons I picked it for this project. The downside however is that it's rather fragile.

You'll want to cut the long sides of the plane with the grain of the wood, as seen in the picture below. When your cutting across the grain go slow. You may need to do a few test cuts to get a good handle on cutting balsa wood.

Cut out the airplanes carefully

These are the three pieces you should be left with after you cut out the plane.

Now before you put the airplane together I recommend sanding the entire airplane down. You mostly want to get rid of the sharp edges. Use fine grit sand paper.

Cut out airplane for the airplane mobile

Just remember, this is balsa wood, so it doesn't take much sanding to smooth things out. Sand too much and you could end up reshaping your plane. This is the one step you should probably do outside.

Step 3: How to Put the Airplane Together

Next you'll need to cut a slot across the body of the plane for the wing to slide into. Also cut a slot in the horizontal stabilizer so it can slide into the tail of the plane.

Cut out airplane with slots

Here's what your airplane should look like all put together. 

Assembled airplane for the airplane mobile

Now repeat step 2 & 3 five more times to make all 6 of the airplanes for your mobile.

Step 4: Painting the Airplanes

Paint the airplanes

This is the fun part! I like simple, bright colors, as you can see with my airplanes above. But go crazy. Paint them however you'd like. 

Making the Mobile

Step 1: The Wood Block

You'll need to drill 4 holes in your wood block. Using a tape measure find the center of 4 sides of the block. You'll want the hole to be the same diameter as the dowel.

Drill holes in the wood block for the center of the mobile

If you aren't sure which bit will give you that diameter, start small. You can always make the hole bigger but you can't make it smaller.

Don't drill all the way through the block. Your hole only needs to be about 1/2"-3/4" deep.

You can wrap your tape around the drill bit several times so you can see when you've reached the desired depth. See the picture below for an example.

Step 2: The Dowel

Now take your dowel and cut it into 4 equal length pieces. Apply a small amount of super glue to the inside of the hole in the wood block and stick each dowel in. 

Now about 3/4" from the end of the dowel you're going to drill a small hole for the string to go through. This should be a vertical hole that's just wide enough to fit the string through.

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Step 3: Add the Screw Eyes

The last thing you need to do is add a screw eye to the top and bottom of the block. Again, find the center of the block and mark it. This is particularly important for the top one. If you don't get it in the center your entire mobile will hang crooked.

For the bottom screw eye you can use the same size as the ones you'll be using on your airplanes. However you may want to get a larger screw eye for the top of the block as this is going to support your entire mobile.

You should be able to screw these in by hand, it just takes a little elbow grease.

Attach eye hole screws to the airplanes

Hanging the Airplanes - Tie it All Together

The last step is to break out the string and tie everything together. Now it sounds rather easy but it can be a little tricky. 

Mobiles are all about balance. The airplanes that are opposite of one another on the mobile need to hang at the same length. If they don't, you'll end up with a crooked mobile.

And I should know, that's exactly what happened to me. One string is about an inch longer and now it's all crooked. After I finish writing this I'll be fixing that.

Tie all the airplanes onto the mobile

 You'll just need a simple knot on each plane. Once they are all tied apply a small amount of super glue to each knot and cut off any excess string to give them a clean look. 

Once you've tied all your airplanes you're done! You should have something that looks a bit like the picture below.

The finished airplane mobile for your nursery

Now you just need to figure out how to hang your mobile. A hook in the ceiling is probably the easiest but you'll have to figure out what will work best in your child's room.

Have any questions? Just ask below.

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