The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Apache Helicopter

The March 2019 issue of Wood magazine has a neat pattern and parts kit to build a wooden Apache helicopter.  I think my grandson would like this one, so I decided to build one. Here is a link to buy the pattern and the parts kit.


Most of the pieces on this project are either hard maple or cherry.  I always keep a couple of boards of hard maple in inventory [purchased from Menards] I have enough to build this project.

I do not keep much cherry in inventory, and I only had 1 small board.  I usually buy cherry boards from Rockler.  This time, I decided to try special ordering cherry boards from Menards.

The Menard's special order arrived in just a couple of days. It was nicely packaged as shown in the photo above.

I did an Excel spreadsheet and compared the Rockler price to the Menard's price, on a $ per cubic inch basis.  They came out about the same.  But, Menard's periodically runs their 11% rebate sales, so if you buy during their rebate sale comes out about 11% less.

Main Body

To make the main body, you use the compound saw method............where you glue the pattern on the top, and on the side...........then band saw the top and side......yielding a piece with 3D geometry.  This technique is commonly used on scroll sawing projects.

The main body blank is 1.75 inches deep and 16 inches long.  I finally decided to glue up 3 lengths of 3/4x3.5 inch cherry boards.........then plane a 1/2" off each side to net the final 1.75 inch thickness.   I thought about planing all 3 boards first, then gluing them up.............but my planer usually gives snipe on the ends, and they would not glue up nicely.

To make the blank, I cut 3 pieces of 3/4x3.5" cherry to 17 inches length (so I can saw to 16.5 final length)..........then I ripped the 3 pieces to 2.75" wide, so I can finish saw down to 2.5 inches.

Compound Sawing

This plan was a little different than what I am used to.

You glue on the side view pattern, cut it.........then glue on the top view pattern.   The two top view pieces do not touch each, there is about 1/2" gap between them.  I am used to one solid piece of paper for the top view.

Confusion on Plan

Boy, I struggled with the 2 Sponson parts (whatever a sponson is?).......on interpreting the drawings.  I am a landlubber in Central Illinois......who doesn't fly a I don't do Port and Starboard stuff............I had to Google to see which was right and which was left hand side!!

I think it would help on the plans if the  pieces had a Front label on the pieces.

Planing small parts from valuable wood like Cherry

A technique I often use is to glue 2 sacrificial pieces of pine to the outside of a small piece of valuable wood..............because you should have at least 10 inches of length for the planer.  After planing, you just saw off the 2 pine edges, leaving your stock to make small pieces from.

Making the strut notch 3/8" wide and 1/4" deep

I used a combination of a sharp 1/4" wide chisel, and my Dremel with a 1/4" diameter green cutter. This worked well to cut an accurate notch.

Status on Jan 15, 2019

No Plan dimension for locating the wings

I searched all the drawings and the text..........and could not find a location for the wings.

I went to exploded view, where it says to locate the sponsons 5 inches back from the front nose.  I scaled this drawing, and the wings look like they are about 4.25 inches back from the front nose.

clamping 1/4" diam missiles to holder

I filed a flat spot on each give more glue area when it is attached to its holder.

Clamping gun to its holder

I hand filed a flat on top of the 3/4" dia dowel.........the give more glue surface area.

Making the 45 degree chamfer on back of the wings

I could have cranked the table saw blade from 0 to 45 deg and made the cut................but the worm gear gets full of sawdust and it is hard to turn.

Instead, I used a ball bearing guided chamfer bit on the router table.  I temporarily attached a piece of pine to the cherry wing with 2-sided heavy duty carpet tape.  This method worked great.


One of the challenges of a small project like how to clamp the unique parts after gluing.  For the final clamping of the gun to its holder piece, I drilled a 3/4" hole in a piece of scrap pine, then sawed through the center of the hole with the scroll the semicircle matches the 3/4" diameter of the gun.......which worked well.

Status of project end-of-day Jan 16, 2019

Rear pin that helicopter sits on

The plan calls for an 1/8" dowel, 1" long.  I installed this fragile pin, but then broke it off when I was trying to install the rear vertical wing.  I beefed up the design and used a 3/16" diameter dowel pin instead.

Rear vertical wing

The plans call for just gluing this piece to the fuselage...............and this would be so fragile, my grandson would break it off the first time he handled the helicopter.  I installed 2 dowel pins, 1/8" diameter between the wing and the fuselage.  I used a brad that I nipped off, to mark the location of where to drill the dowel pin holes.  This should be a lot stronger.

Ready for varnishing


The only parts I am missing are the 2 wheels, 1 inch diameter.  They are on order.  So, I can go ahead and varnish everything else.

Finished Apache Helicopter

Closing Thoughts on This Project

It was a little tough to understand the magazine plans for this model.  What would help is.......

1. Do not use the port and starboard terms...........use right hand and left hand side.
2. Add a 4.25" dimension for the distance from the nose to the start of the wings.

3. Add front and back notation to sponson's piece drawings to avoid confusion.

4. Add using 2 dowels, 1/8" diameter, to more solidly attach the rear vertical wing to the body.

5. Change the diameter of the rear mounting dowel from 1/8" to 3/16" diameter.........1/8" is just too fragile.

This project is challenging if you have no experience making or gluing/clamping small parts safely. I have a lot of experience with small parts, so I used that knowledge to help make this model.

This model is for a look at and handle with adult supervision model 4 year old grandson would tear it up in just a few minutes.

My photos do not do this model justice, it really looks nice.

I chose to let the cherry parts turn darker over time..........versus staining them with cherry stain before the assembly build.