Waterwheel Assembly Instructions

A waterwheel made using our kit of partsThis article explains how to assemble our kit of parts to make a waterwheel like the one shown in the image to the right.

Note that the wheel is approximately 3" in diameter but has the bottom section (the part that would be under the water), trimmed off. Thus it is 2-7/16" high and, as shown in the image, will fit neatly under the overhang of a half-timbered building with a ground floor constructed from 5 courses of Hirst Arts blocks, the base of which are level with the surface of the "water" (see image). We cast our blocks using Hirst Arts Dragon's Inn mould (#51).

The image below shows the parts in our kit. Most are cut from 1mm MDF. 6 are cut from 0.5mm clear acrylic. Also included, but not shown in the photo, is a short length of 1/4" section balsa rod; for use as the axle.

Note that the MDF has a front and rear face. The front is slightly shinier. Also, if you look closely at the components (you can't see it in the photograph), the laser cut edge has a slight slope to it. Something you can see from the photograph is that that the wheel rims are a right and left handed pair. Consequently it's important to observe which is the front and rear face when assembling the waterwheel.

Waterwheel components.

Also note that the design of the clear acrylic pieces has been improved since these photographs were taken; so the ones you receive will look slightly different.

Begin by attaching the rims with the cutouts to those without; observing, as previously mentioned which is the front and rear face. We used fast setting PVA glue.

When these assemblies are dry, it's time to add the paddles. Note that two of them (bottommost in the image) are smaller than the others and go at the bottom of the wheel (test fit them first). We've found it easiest to insert about 5 paddles into one "frame", then add the second frame, then let this dry before inserting the remainder of the paddles. Stand it upright on a flat surface and check that it's square while drying to ensure that it will stand properly when attached to your river.

The next step it to attach the spokes. These will need to have the underwater portion of them trimmed off after assembly. We've supplied them like this so you have a choice about the angle at which you apply them. Be sure however to make sure that the square axle holes are aligned.

The final step before painting is to add the square section of balsa to make the axle.


We simply painted everything with caramel coloured acrylic paint, and then gave it a couple of washes of diluted brown ink.

Water Effects

Our kit also includes 6 pieces of clear acrylic. Refer to the image to the image and instructions below. Note that they attach to the back of the wheel (as shown the river would be flowing from left to right).

Water Effects

  1. Attach the small piece to the lowest complete paddle.

  2. Glue the two largest pieces together with a slight vertical offset to create a lip at the top edge. Now attach them to the second paddle up. They should reach all the way down to the surface of the water.

  3. Glue the two medium sized pieces together with an offset to create a lip (as in step 2). Attach them to the next paddle up. They should reach to the next paddle down.

  4. Glue the remaining small piece to the next paddle up.

A waterwheel made using our kit of partsWe used superglue for all of the above steps, ensuring at each step that the pieces were vertical, and allowing them to set completely before proceeding to the next step. Next we we smeared some epoxy adhesive over the acrylic (using a cocktail stick) and used it to form the disturbed water on the surface of the river. This was allowed to dry thoroughly before completing the effect with a little gloss varnish and white paint.

The Waterwheel Kit is available in our online shop.

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