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Thread: Tutorial: Simple Carved Fan

  1. #1
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    Tutorial: Simple Carved Fan

    There are almost as many variations of the carved fan as there are shells. This one is very simple but elegant and easy to carve - a beginning carver should be able to carve this fan.

    These fans were used on early American furniture, often on the center drawer of a lowboy. A drawer pull (almost certainly a round knob) was placed in the lower center of the fan. So when you look at the fan we're carving, try to imagine a drawer pull as part of the fan.

    I'm using a piece of 3/4" Honduras mahogany about 6 1/2" wide. This piece is longer, but a piece about 10" in length will work well.

    The first thing we'll do is the layout. I draw a vertical line 5" from the end (if the piece was 10" long, I'd split it in half), and a horizontal line about 1 1/2" from the bottom (edit: if I was doing it over, I'd use 1 1/4" from the bottom). Using the intersection of those two lines as the center point, I draw a half circle with radius 4", and another with radius 3 3/4". Finally, I draw a small circle with a 3/4" radius.

    If you were doing this on a real piece of furniture, you'd have to scale these measurements to fit your drawer.
    Carved-fan-01.jpg

    We begin our carving by making a downward cut with a #7/25 gouge to outline the lower half circle. Note that I didn't cut exactly to the line - I cut just a bit away from the line. As I do the rest of the carving, I'll "damage" the side of that half circle. As the final carving, I'll trim back to the line and remove that damage.
    Carved-fan-02.jpg

    Next, I begin cutting away the wood on the outside of that half circle so that it stands proud by about 1/4".
    Carved-fan-03.jpg
    Carved-fan-04.jpg

    Next, I need to lay out the flutes. I actually should have done this as part of my original layout, but I forgot to do it then. I can do it now with no problems to the carving. I want about 12 flutes across the fan, which means 6 on each side. I use the dividers and adjust until I get six even spaces.

    There's nothing magic about having 12 flutes - you can use as many or as few as you choose - but 12 is a good compromise. If you use a lot more than 12, the flutes get too narrow at the bottom and they're hard to carve. And if you use a lot less than 12, the flutes are too wide at the top. You can use an odd number instead of an even, but then you have a bit more of a layout problem since the center flute will be on the center line, instead of the center line being a cut between two flutes. An odd number will look fine, however.
    Carved-fan-05.jpg
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 01-06-2009 at 12:38 AM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  2. #2
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    You can see the six spaces on each side of the center line in the picture below.
    Carved-fan-06.jpg

    Then draw a line from the center point to beyond the outer circle. It's important that the line extend beyond that outer circle.
    Carved-fan-07.jpg

    Using a #5/16 (many other gouges will do) I cut the wood down so that it slopes smoothly from the outside to the small half circle. At the bottom of the fan, there's a straight section on each side of the small half circle that needs to be cut. I used a wide #1 gouge because I had it, but a regular bench chisel will work just as well.
    Carved-fan-08.jpg

    I then took a #3/20 and smoothed down the tool marks from the #5/16. You don't have to do this step but it's nice to have everything smooth.
    Carved-fan-09.jpg

    Then, using the marks from when you drew the lines before, re-draw the lines for the flutes.
    Carved-fan-10.jpg
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 01-05-2009 at 6:54 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
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    Use your V-tool to cut along the lines, from the outside circle to the inner half circle.
    Carved-fan-11.jpg

    Next, we'll start on the scallops on the ends of the flutes. We have a problem here because the bottom of this cut is curved. I took a #2/8 and made the plunge cuts, with the cut in the center being deeper than the cuts on the side. You can slant your gouge when making the cuts on the sides to get a deeper cut on the inside than on the outside.
    Carved-fan-13.jpg

    Now we cut the actual scallop. I'm using a #7/25. If you don't want your scallops to be as "bold" use a #5/25.
    Carved-fan-14.jpg

    When you make these cuts, try to hold the gouge at approximately the same angle for each scallop. That's actually not hard to do because you naturally hold the gouge about the same each time.
    Carved-fan-15.jpg
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
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    Note that when you make this cut with the #7/25, the outside edges of the gouge will hit the plunge cut before the center of the gouge. You could modify a gouge by cutting back the sides, but that gouge would not be useful for other cuts - so we're going to make do with what we have.

    When you pop out the chip, there will be an area that has not been cut in the bottom of the scallop.
    Carved-fan-16.jpg

    Use a small gouge - I used a #3/5 - to cut away the wood that was not cut by the #7/25.
    Carved-fan-17.jpg

    Do all the scallops.
    Carved-fan-18.jpg

    We can now round over the flutes. You have to be careful in doing this because of the way the grain runs. On the top of each flute, I used the #2/8 and cut inward. But on the other side of the flute, I used the #2/25 and cut downward.
    Carved-fan-19.jpg

    Once you have all the flutes rounded with the gouges, take some P150 sandpaper and sand the tool marks out.
    Carved-fan-20.jpg
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  5. #5
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    Sand all the flutes so that they're smooth.
    Carved-fan-21.jpg

    Finally, trim back to the original line of the lower half circle, and round off the arris around the top just for looks. I used the #3/5 for that, and then sanded it.
    Carved-fan-22.jpg

    The final step is to sand with fine sandpaper - P220.
    Carved-fan-23.jpg

    Just to show what it would look like finished, I put some oil on it.
    Carved-fan-24.jpg

    That's all there is to doing a fan. Although I used carving tools, you can substitute regular bench chisels and a carving knife for many of the cuts, so almost anyone can do a fan, even if you don't have a lot of carving tools.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 01-05-2009 at 6:46 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6
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    Mike, Thanks for the tutorial. Have ever thought of doing a shell carving dvd? If so, let us know.

    Thanks again,
    Dave

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Redlin View Post
    Mike, Thanks for the tutorial. Have ever thought of doing a shell carving dvd? If so, let us know.

    Thanks again,
    Dave
    Sure, I've thought of that, but I don't have any video production equipment. Maybe one day.

    BTW, what kind of shell are you interested in? A Newport shell - or a simple shell?

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  8. #8
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    Mike,
    Maybe its a challenge or a glutten for punishment....but since you're asking.

    Dave

    http://www.andersenandstauffer.com/HL104.html
    Last edited by Dave Redlin; 01-05-2009 at 10:17 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Redlin View Post
    Mike,
    Maybe its a challenge or a glutten for punishment....but since you're asking.

    Dave

    http://www.andersenandstauffer.com/HL104.html
    There's a couple of shells on that piece. I could do the shell on the drop (in front) but the main shell is much too complex to do in a tutorial.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  10. #10
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    Mike,
    That sounds good to me! Or maybe the concave Newport Shell from your Townsend Bureau?

    Thanks,
    Dave

  11. #11
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    Okay, let me see how my time goes.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
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    Great Job !!!

    Hey Mike
    I enjoyed the tutorial, I did this fan several years ago from a carving book that I have and it came out almost as good as yours. Although they didnt use sandpaper I remember,maybe mine would have looked a little closer to yours if I would have used it...
    Great Job!!! I look forward to seeing more.....Heck! Keep this up and us creekers wont have to ever buy a carving book again....
    Seth.....
    I Love My Dedicated Machines ! And My Dedicated Wife Loves Me !

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seth Poorman View Post
    Hey Mike
    I enjoyed the tutorial, I did this fan several years ago from a carving book that I have and it came out almost as good as yours. Although they didnt use sandpaper I remember,maybe mine would have looked a little closer to yours if I would have used it...
    Great Job!!! I look forward to seeing more.....Heck! Keep this up and us creekers wont have to ever buy a carving book again....
    Seth.....
    What's the old saying? "No picture, didn't happen"? Please post a picture of fan you did.

    Thanks for your kind words. I'll try to keep doing the tutorials as I have time. Hopefully I'll get a lot more busy in 2009 with paying projects.

    Just a comment about sandpaper - sandpaper is just another tool to be used appropriately. I teach beginners to use sandpaper because it improves the look of their project. And having a project come out nice encourages them to keep carving.

    Carving is mostly self taught - meaning that you can be taught the basics, but getting good comes from doing carving - a lot of it.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  14. #14
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    Im not sure if I have shell anymore but I think I have a rose in the shop that I did . Ill see if I can find them..
    I Love My Dedicated Machines ! And My Dedicated Wife Loves Me !

  15. #15
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    Hi Mike,
    Thanks again for the tutorials.

    Did you use the v-tool on the horizontal edges too (the ones initially cut with the #1 chisel)?

    Other than the number of flutes, are there any other things to watch out for when scaling the overall size up or down?

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