Author Topic: Carving a fan  (Read 6278 times)

awleonard

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Carving a fan
« on: March 12, 2008, 11:35:27 AM »
I'm building a lowboy/dressing table and am ready to start on the fan on the lower middle drawer.  I carved part of one in a weekend class with Phil Lowe at Highland Hardware in Atlanta, but that was several years ago.  The area I'm having the most trouble with is the large ends of the rays.  I have a couple of articles, but they don't go into much detail.  I've seen where they are laid out with a coin or whatever, but carving that detail is not working out well for me.  So, I thought I'd ask if anyone had any tips they could pass.  Any other fan carving tips would be appreciated as well, as I said, I've only cared a half of one.

Thanks,

Tony - Memphis

Mark Arnold

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Re: Carving a fan
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 04:01:22 PM »
Tony,

Since I've never carved the type of fan that you are trying to do, I'm probably the last person to be giving advice.

You undoubtedly have FWW#119 where Randy O'Donnell describes how he carved the fans for his highboy. He used a minimum of tools including a v parting tool and bench chisels. The area where you are having trouble seems like a good candidate for a shallow backbent gouge. I would use it on each side of the apex rather than try to shape the entire ray. Since the rays are tapered, you will have to twist it or skew it to shape the narrower parts. The direction of approach will differ depending on grain orientation.

Hopefully someone who has actually executed a fan can give you some better suggestions.
NBSS '96, Partial to the Federal Period.

dkeller_nc

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Re: Carving a fan
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 04:55:23 PM »
Tony - I've carved quite a number of these.  What, exactly, are you having trouble with? (i.e., the layout, grain chipping out at the ray terminus, etc..)
Period Furniture & Carving as a hobby - about 20 years woodworking

awleonard

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Re: Carving a fan
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2008, 10:22:45 AM »
Well, the main issue I am having right now is getting the curve right at the end of the ray (the large end).  I do have the article mentioned above and am trying to replicate that kind of termination where the ray ends in a curved shape.  The trouble I am having is getting that curve that I traced nice and uniform.  I tried a flat chisel and that works ok.  It may be one of those things that there are no tricks for and you just have to be real careful and work at it.  I just thought I'd ask to make sure I had all the ammo I could get to tackle this thing.  The rest of it seems pretty straightforward as you are just rounding over corners.  Just have to watcht the grain since you encounter all grain situations in carving one of these. 

Thanks for the help,  I'm at the stage that when something turns out decent, its a surprise!  My half-blind dovetails actually turned out "ok for a rookie."  The legs and knees look reasonable.  So, I just may get this thing looking like something someday soon, who knows!

Tony

Tony

HSteier

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Re: Carving a fan
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2008, 10:25:37 AM »
Are you asking about carving the convex portion of the ray at the perimeter of the shell?
If so, as you noted a small flat chiisel will work. Blend the facets with sandpaper and/or a scraper.
Another trick is to use #3 gouges upside down. In order to do this successfully you need to put a back bevel on the gouge. Chris Pye's video on sharpening shows how to do this in great detail (it's the best sharpening instruction I've seen).

Howard Steier

dkeller_nc

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Re: Carving a fan
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2008, 10:53:55 AM »
Tony:

As Howard notes, an upside-down gouge with a back-bevel can be used to obtain the rounded shape at the terminus of the rays, and it can also be rough-shaped with a flat or skew chisel and either a riffler or sandpaper.  Personally, I don't use abrasive tools (such as rifflers or sandpaper) on my carvings, as I feel it muddies the details and the torn fibers at the surface obscures the grain of the wood.

Perhaps a better tool (and the one I use) for this work is a back-bent gouge.  A shallow sweep is necessary to avoid digging the corners in and/or working against the grain of the wood, say a #5 sweep in the Pfiel system.  If you're considering purchasing one or several of these, I would suggest starting with narrower tools, say 10-15mm wide, as you will typically have to work one side of the curve in one direction, and the other side in the opposite direction to avoid tearing out the grain.
Period Furniture & Carving as a hobby - about 20 years woodworking