Introduction: The Bat-Fan

About: Mad Scientist at large While this is rather difficult to explain, without sounding like a late night commercial, all I can say is that I'm just me. My on-line web comic. If you're interested in swords & sor…
Ok, so I've been badgered and taunted about this project for quiet some time.  Finally, I decided to take the plunge and modify the ceiling fan in my living room into a Bat Fan.

The main photo is of said bat-fan, a humorous Demotivational style poster.  You can actually buy the "bat / dragon wing" fan blades here.  But, like any decent DIY'er worth his salt, I decided to make my own.  SO, on with the show!

Step 1: Formulating a Bat-Plan ....

First off, after receiving the motivating photo, we need to take an assessment of what we have and what we need.  Along with this will be the monumental task of choosing a style for your bat wings.

Ok, first things needed is a ceiling fan.  Just so happens I have a five bladed one in my living room.  It's white with brass accents.  The only problem that I see right now is what the Hades am I going to do with the light assembly.  I suppose that will be an extra challenge for this project.

I've included an evolution of the bat symbol (per the Fair Use Act, of course).  While this one doesn't have all the different symbols used over the years, it is one of the better ones.  This is what will be helping us design the new fan blades, ... er ... wings, that is.

Step 2: Resources Necessary

Ok, ceiling fan - check.
Bat Symbol designs - check.

Now, for the other components to this project -

Materials Necessary
large sheet of cardboard
1/4" smooth plywood
Primer paint
Colored paints

Tools Necessary
phillips screwdriver
tape measure
Xacto knife
jig saw (with smooth wood cut blade)
sanding block
disposable paint brushes

Step 3: And Now the Fun Begins ...

First off, snag one of the fan blades from your ceiling fan.  Simple.  After you clean the dust off of said blade, place in on the cardboard sheet and use your handy dandy pencil to make a trace pattern - be sure to include the attachment holes.

Now you need to decide on which design you're going to - sorta - mimic for the new design.  Using your traced outline, modify to your liking.  I'm sure you should consider some kind of aerodynamic formula for surface area moving a specific amount of air volume, but who cares?  This is for looks, not science.

From here, it's Xacto knife time - ever so carefully, cut your new bat wing pattern out.  Now you're ready to transfer the pattern to the plywood.

Duh! Moment - I grasped this seed of wisdom whist I was cutting the wings out of the plywood.  Instead of doing like me - ie, cutting the wings out individually - just cut rectangles of plywood out, large enough for the wing pattern, clamp all five together and make one cut.  Simple.  And the bonus is that all of your wings will be exactly the same, not minor imperfections.  (Sometimes I wonder where parts of my brain power wonder off to...)

So, I'm sure you've guessed, I whipped out my jig saw (with wood smooth cut blade) and cut out each of the five winds, one by one.  I like to think of it as making each a unique shape.

Now, that you have your wings cut out, apply the sanding sponge to the edges and smooth them out.

And here is where having a drill press comes in supper handy.  Clamp all wings together (same direction and all that), even and in line. and use the drill press to make the attachment holes.  That why they are all in the same spot on all the wings.

Step 4: Prepping the Wings

Even though I used smooth sanded plywood, there are still some nicks along the edges.  And the wings need a sealant coat before they get a coat of paint, or three.  I just used typical ole wall plaster, some Elmer's glue and plain old water, mixed at a 1:1:1 ratio.  War gamers and RPG terrain makers will be familiar with this formula, ie - filler or spackle..  This will help the wings have a smooth surface, and the glue will kind act as a sealant for the plywood.

Mix the plaster, glue and water together to get a smooth, almost creamy, paste.  I mixed mine in an old Cool Whip bowl, that way I can pop the lid on it between coats, so the filler doesn't dry out.

Then, using a 2" brush, lightly apply this mixture to the wing blades, one side at a time.  Allow to dry thoroughly between top and bottom coats.  You may even want to lightly sand between coat.   Notice I used the word "lightly" to both the applying and the sanding?  This is so the wings won't warp or break.  Use your good judgement here.

Step 5: Finishing Your Wings

Ok, after a bit of sanding, now it's time to do some painting.  I pick out some rattle-can paint (Sail Blue in color) to go with my more traditional wing design.  I also left some faint brush strokes on the surface, as the bat-symbol I decided to mimic is based on the 60's - 70's version (ala Adam West).

I spent the better part of three days paint the wings - 4 coats each side.  A bit much?  Probably.  But I'd like for them to give a bat-beating and keep on bat-flapping unscathed.

Step 6: Test Flight

I had to use my dremel tool to fix the attachment holes (got a little exciting applying the sealant coats).  No photos to post concerning that, because I was all excited about installing these puppies.

Anyways, remove your old fan blades and replace with your new bat wings.  Be prepared for awesomeness!

As a side note - these wings seem to move more air than the regular blades that were on the fan.  Might be because these are a little bigger than the original blades.

Step 7: The Cosmetics of It All

So, I'm almost finished with the bat fan, and here is whatelse I did ....

First off, turn off the breaker that controls your fan - getting electrocuted isn't a part of this.  If you're not sure how, consult a professional.  Next requires an almost complete disaasembly.  Or, unlike me, start your project in warmer weather (ie, summer time) and you can take care of all of this at once.

My goal was to paint the white parts gray.  So, after removing the bat wings and the light assembly, the bat fan was removed from the ceiling.  I then disassembled the housing for the fan and painted the parts.  Four coats, plus two of clear coat - good ole rattle can brand.

Step 8: Lighting ....

This is the challenge that I recognized at the beginning of this project - I just can't have normal looking lights on my bat fan.  So, some research was in order.  I remembered seeing some tinted mason jar project somewhere, so I began looking, and finally settled on this one at Freutcake - but I did modify the recipe somewhat.  I used matte Mod Podge and neon blue food coloring, but no water.  Then just brushed in on, inside the glass.  Three coats and plenty of drying time.  I wasn't sure how well the glass bits would handle that much heat, so I didn't put them in the oven, I just air dried them.

Course, with the dye concoction inside the glass parts, I didn't want to use the old fashioned incandescent bulbs (wary of the heat generated burning the dye mixture), so I opted for the CFL bulbs.

Afterwards, you just have to put everything back together again.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Reassembled and ready to go.