Restoring a Classic Desk Fan with New Leather Blades

created at: 08/17/2015

When Sean came across this model 94646-E “Northwind” oscillating electric fan by Emerson Electric, dated to about 1955, he knew it’d be a stylish, character-filled replacement to his recently busted cheap plastic box fan. So, he got it home, plugged it in, and it whirred “like a cheetah.” 

And within ten minutes, he totally cut himself on the sharp, spinning metal blades. Yikes.    After bandaging himself up, not wanting to render his recent purchase useless, he sought a b better, and safer, solution. He says: 

“I had seen recently-manufactured fans with blades made of semi-rigid foam, silicone, or other soft polymer intended for safe use around a child, but I just couldn’t stomach slapping plastic blades on such a beautiful slab of post-war American industrial design. I’d sooner sell it to somebody else and go back to a modern appliance. But was there a more authentic, tasteful material that would also be softer and safer?”

Of course there is: leather. Does it work? Yep. Does it look amazing? Well, check it out: 

Nice, right? Read about the whole process, including some careful balancing, at Retrofitting a Classic Desk Fan with Leather Blades