New Spin on Fan Inlays
Add pop to tops and other surfaces with handsome fans
Synopsis: Garrett Hack takes a modern approach to a classic inlay form, the quarter-circle fan. This is a motif used frequently on 18th-century Federal furniture, but it can appear bright and modern when used in nontraditional ways. Hack’s method is efficient and ensures uniformity. Instead of the traditional method of cutting and insetting each thin piece of veneer individually, Hack cuts and assembles fan rays in bunches, creates a thick “sandwich,” slices off the individual fans, and glues them into a recess. This article also includes design ideas for using fans and stringing to add spark to your furniture.
From Fine Woodworking #204
Most furniture makers aspire to have their work stand out, to be original in some way. That’s what inspired me to start using various forms of inlay in my work, from traditional cuff bandings to original Morse-code signatures in black-and-white stringing. They’ve all added uniqueness—and lots of fun—to my furniture.
One of my favorites is the quarter-circle fan, made from ebony and holly rays. These fans appear frequently on 18th-century Federal furniture, where makers used them to brighten the façade of a piece with contrasting flourishes in the corners of drawers and doors, to adorn and connect the corners of a tabletop, or to decorate the back splat of a chair. I’ve used fans in these traditional ways, but I like to push the envelope, inlaying fans in surprising places, like backsplashes and table aprons. I’ve also altered the design and construction a bit. Traditionally, fan inlays were created with veneers of contrasting colors (whether shaded, dyed, or of a different species) cut and inset into a shallow mortise one ray at a time. The outer radii of these traditional fans often were scalloped.
My modern approach to making and…