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How to Carve a Fan Bird – Part 2

This is Part Two of the fan bird tutorial I posted last week. I’ll pick up where we left off. We were just about to slice the feathers… First, put the bird’s body into a handscrew clamp and pin it with your waist into a stop of some sort so that it doesn’t slide around. Use a small drawknife (this Flexcut 3" model was designed for this exact operation) to carefully slice the feathers. Fan carvers call step this “riving” the feathers, but don’t let that make you think you should follow the grain wherever it wants to take you. Really, you should be thinking “slicing,” not “riving.” If you mess up a few feathers along the way, don’t worry,...

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How to Carve a Fan Bird – Part 1

This Christmas, I made a handful of fan birds. The fan bird is a traditional European carving of a bird formed from one block of solid wood (or in more elaborate examples, a few blocks of wood). The feathers are profiled as one block, then are sliced and fanned apart in order to form wings and a tail. I first learned how to do this from Mike, but I recently refreshed my knowledge at Sally and David Nye’s excellent website. Once you get the hang of it, this is a quick project – the bird I show below took just under an hour to make. This is green woodworking, so use relatively fresh stock. Some folks have had success with...

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