In Shop Blog, Techniques

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Somewhere in history, ancient artisans and designers busy daydreaming and doodling on their slate tablets conceived the beautiful – yet simple – fan design. It appears throughout the architecture and furniture records in various forms.


The fan is one of my favorite designs to carve because the possibilities and variations are so numerous.  You can increase or decrease the number of segments, adjust the size, change the depth and even make the segments concave instead of convex (which is another lesson in itself).

I’m launching a new online class on fan design. This 10-day course shows the very basic techniques of how to carve the fan motif, from start to finish. Whether you are an experienced woodcarver or just starting to learn how to form shapes in wood, this can be a fun project. Once you get the basic process down, you can customize it to whatever project you are working on.

The design can be added to a piece of furniture you are making – maybe along the lower edge of a highboy, a detail on a drawer or the top of a jewelry box. Other options include chair backs and decorative wall hangings. I mostly get requests for this design to go on the center of a fireplace surround. Since the fan can be carved into a flat piece of wood, you can add it to anything with minimal wood preparation. Use your imagination and see where you can go with it!

Included in the go-at-your-own-pace, live online course:

  • Full size template
  • Tool list
  • Printable, step-by-step instructions so if you don’t have access to a computer in your shop, you can refer to this while carving the fan
  • How to transfer a design to wood
  • Which carving gouges to use and how to identify them
  • How to work with a small amount of tools to make many different types of cuts
  • How to work in the correct grain direction
  • The best order of working through a project to make the process most efficient

CMaryMayCover640x480ome join the fan carving journey – the adventures can be endless! All course segments are available on-demand, and can be taken in small or large chunks – spread out over the full 10-day period. You also get access to the course discussion forum, where you will be able to ask me questions and get plenty of help with each step.

Register now! The course starts on July 22nd.

Mary May

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