Magic Windmill


Magic Windmill


A simple folk toy which exhibits the magic that Science can spin up. A toy from centuries ago, the Magic Windmill reveals how Science has always been an innate part of human life.

Written by Toh Shi Ting


There are many things in life that science cannot explain and hence continue to puzzle us. But the Magic Windmill are amongst those that never fail to amaze even after understanding the scientific mechanism behind it.

Bensen first learnt about the device from a personal friend and social philanthropist, Albert, who has worked as a mechanical engineer with Rolls Royce in the UK for more than 30 years, now back in Singapore for his retirement. Albert had initially approached Bensen to create a box to contain the Magic Windmill in order to present it as a gift to his partners, but instead, what he brought to Bensen was way more than just business.

The Magic Windmill, otherwise known as the Gee-Haw Whammy Diddle or Notched stick, is a folk toy enjoyed by children of all eras. The physics behind its operation may seem simple, but many would find themselves confused when they attempt to maneuver it themselves. Here, is an explanation of its mechanism. When one rubs the notched stick with another, the friction of the sticks will generate a circular vibration force upon the nail end, which will then again translate into a rotational force that spins the propeller. What more intriguing is that the direction by which the propeller spins is completely controllable by the user. All the user has to do is simply place a finger on the side of the stick to which the user wish to change the spinning direction to. The pressure of the thumb or index finger would generate a series of jolts in one specific direction of rotation. Having experienced the wonders of the Magic Windmill, Bensen went on to create his very own.

To Bensen, more than just the fun, the Magic Windmill embodies the existence of science all around us. In fact, many a time, it is easy to overlook the importance of science in our everyday lives and the Magic Windmill serves as a beautiful reminder to all on its subsistence.



Each windmill is made of a wooden stick of about 6 or 8 inches long and notched with files for 3 or 4 inches on the upside of the stick. The plastic propeller hanging by the nail and attached to the notched end of the stick by a brad completes the entire Magic Windmill. Made from pinewood, the Magic Windmill allows the user to easily generate vibration strong enough to turn into rotational force for spinning the propeller. Soft wood (pine) was specifically chosen to facilitate such as a function.

Craft your very own Magic Windmill today.