First Fan Carving - Popular Woodworking Magazine

First Fan Carving

 In November 2008 #172, Popular Woodworking Magazine Article Index

It takes five tools to enhance the design of any project with a carved fan. We show you the tools and tricks to get it right the first time.
By Glen D. Huey
Pages: 58-62

From the November 2008 issue #172
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Study the furniture built prior to the Queen Anne period and you’ll find surface ornamentation is primarily accomplished with mouldings and/or paint. While there are a few examples of carvings on earlier work, it wasn’t until the first third of the 18th century that furniture makers included decorative features on their work such as shells and fans.

Wallace Nutting, in “Furniture Treasury Vol. III” (Macmillan Publishing Co.), separates shells from fans by calling them, “those cheaper modifications which more properly are denominated fans.” From a carving perspective, he was correct – shells are more difficult to produce. But from a purely aesthetic point of view, I think fans, when carved well, rival any shell design in beauty.

As the popularity of fan carvings grew during the 1700s, each region of furniture manufacture developed its own style. Today, we evaluate the carved fan to help identify in which region a piece of furniture was built.

This design was developed from a number of New England pieces, and I have infused my own ideas as well.

As an introduction to fan carving, you might expect a flat design. However, creating an undulating design, a serpentine or an S-shaped surface, involves only a couple additional steps during the carving process. And the results are worth the extra effort.

From the November 2008 issue #172
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