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Woodworking with P. Michael Henderson


Making a Veneer Sand-shaded Fan

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Mike Henderson


There are many decorative elements for furniture that you can make using veneer in fact, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the veneer worker.

In this tutorial Im going to build on some of the techniques I covered in the compass rose tutorial and show you how to make a sand shaded fan.

Well use that same 16 segment template that I described making in another tutorial and well add the technique of sand shading.


Sand shading is used to add a third dimension to your veneer work by suggesting shadow in your designs.  In this design were going to try to suggest a three dimensional fan with ribs coming upward toward you. 

Sand shading can also be used to suggest interweaving in a design to make it look like some elements of the design go underneath some other elements.  For example, the picture below shows a Celtic design.

Ill remind you of the two rules of veneer work here:

  • Always work (cut) from the glue face, and

  • Veneer tape only goes on the show face

Tools and Equipment

The tools needed are similar to the ones we used to make the compass rose, with the addition of a few items for the shading.

The items we have in the picture are as follows.  On the left we have the 16 segment template.  At the top and just to the right of the template we have the veneer tape and the blue tape.  Just below that is the Japanese marking knives used for cutting the veneer, and a 16mm #7 carving gouge.  Above that is the container with a sponge and water for use with the veneer tape, and a straightedge lying on the container.  Below that is a sanding block, a veneer saw, and a brass brush used to smooth the veneer tape.  Moving right, we have some maple veneer, and the components for sand shading a pan, sand, and a hot plate.

When you go looking for sand, be warned that the sand you will find in the craft shops has color added to it.  The only problem is that when you heat it the first time, the color agent burns off with a noxious smell.  After a couple of uses, the color burns off completely and the sand is back to normal sand color and the odor disappears.

Someone suggested using aluminum oxide instead of sand.  I havent tried it yet but it seems reasonable. You can find bulk aluminum oxide at abrasivedepot.com.  If you try it, let me know how it works.

Sand Shade Fan

Lets start by looking at what were going to make.

This is a traditional design element used in Early American Furniture, and it can be used to good effect in contemporary furniture.  Were going to make the fan from maple, with a field of mahogany.  You should pick the lightest veneer you have holly would be excellent if you can find it.

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Sharpening Stones



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