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Can Ceiling Fan Blades Be Shortened? (How to do it)

Let’s say that you’ve find the perfect design in a secondhand ceiling fan, but the blades are too long. Or you’ve remodelled your home and suddenly the ceiling fan blades are dangerously close to the new furniture. Buying a whole new fan, while not too expensive, is not always in our budget. Happily, it’s also not always necessary.

Shortening ceiling fan blades is possible. You need to make sure that you do it correctly, however, because it can be difficult to end up with perfectly balanced blades if you use the wrong method.

Now, there’s a lot of misguided information on the internet about this—I even saw someone recommending cutting the fan blades with a chainsaw while the fan is running?! Luckily, we have written up a step by step guide on how to do it properly and safely.

Ceiling fan blades can be shortened by cutting them with a jigsaw. All the blades must be cut in exactly the same shape and size. After cutting it is recommended to balance the blades with a balance kit.

How to Shorten Ceiling Fan Blades

Let’s dive a little deeper into how to cut ceiling fan blades but be aware that ceiling fan blades are not universal and changing the length can have negative effects on the fan.

Things You Will Need

It’s always best to start with a list of the items you need.

ToolQtyView on AmazonAdditional info
Quick-Grip Clamps4View
Screwdriver bit set1View
Jigsaw1ViewAccepts both U and T-shank blades
Jigsaw blades1View
Voltage tester1ViewOptional (but recommended)
Sandpaper1View80, 120, and 220 grit
Thread locker1ViewPrevents loose screws in the future
Tools needed for shortening ceiling fan blades

Switch Off Electricity

When working with things that are related to electricity, make sure that you always switch off the electricity to that device at the breaker box to avoid accidents.

To make sure that the right breaker is turned off, you can use a non-contact voltage tester (amazon link). I really like this one because the sensitivity is adjustable. Most are either too sensitive and pick up signals from electrified wires that are close by. And others are too insensitive and won’t pick up signals from wires that have thick insulation.

Klein Tools NCVT1P Voltage Tester, Non-Contact Voltage Detector Pen, 50V to 1000V AC, Audible and Flashing LED Alarms, Pocket Clip,Green,Red

An alternative way to make sure that the right breaker is turned off is to turn on the fan, and then turn off the breakers one by one, until the fan stops.

It is not recommended to use only the wall switch to cut power to the ceiling fan. Someone could accidentally turn on the fan while you are removing the blades.

Remove Ceiling Fan Blades

When removing ceiling fan blades it is important not to bend or damage the shape or the screw holes, so take your time.

On most ceiling fans, you can remove the blade holders first. This makes unscrewing the blades a lot easier since this is done from the underside of the fan. You can remove the fan center cover and see if this is possible.

Technician removing screws on the ceiling fan blade

If there are no screws visible from the underside of the fan, it is better to remove the fan from the ceiling and unscrew the blades on the ground.

Be sure to use the correct screwdriver bit, as damaging the screw head will mean that you will have to drill out the old screw.

Mark the Cutting Line

When you have removed all the blades it’s time to decide how much shorter you will make them. Keep in mind that shortening them too much will make the fan speed too fast and it will be too loud.

  1. Lay one of the blades down on the work table
  2. Mark the length you want to cut off with a small dot in the middle of the blade
  3. Place another blade on top (this will act as a template)
  4. Align the top blade with the dot
  5. Align the sides so that they are equal from both sides
  6. Mark the cut line

Now you have an exact replica of the blade tip marked down and ready to move on to aligning the blades on top of each other.

Align the Blades

When the cutting line is marked, the next step is to stack all the blades on top of each other and fasten them with the quick grip clamp. Make sure that the blade with the marked line is on top.

The most important thing is that all the blades are aligned 100%. The more precise you are the better the result will be. One clamp should be where the screw holes are and the other at about the halfway mark. This is to avoid hitting it with the jigsaw.

I would also use one clamp to hold the vertical alignment of the blades on the cutting side if possible.

OhLectric OL-43886 Contractor’s Standard Ceiling Fan Blades - Made with Premium Quality MDF - Set of 5 Replacement Fan Blades - Standard Pre-drilled Holes - 52 Inch Fan Blades, Brushed Nickel

Just make sure that, while cutting, nothing can move.

If you have only one clamp you can use a long bolt to join all the blades through the mounting holes, and use the clamp in the middle to secure it to the worktable.

Cut The Ceiling Fan Blades

Now we are ready to cut.

Make sure that the jigsaw has the right blade for the material you are cutting, and that the blade is straight and sharp. In the required tools list we have a set of jigsaw blades. In there you will find a suitable blade for cutting wood, aluminum, or plastic.

When using a dull or bent blade, the cut will not be vertically straight. This means that the blade on the bottom of the stack will be different size than the one on the top.

It is also important not to force the jigsaw, just guide the blade along the marked line, and the saw will move ahead on its own.

If the jigsaw won’t move ahead without applying a lot of pressure then most likely you have a dull, or incorrect blade for the material you are trying to cut.

Sand the Edges of Ceiling Fan Blades

After you have removed the extra length, use sanding paper to finish the cut edges.

It depends on the material if you can get by just using sandpaper or if you will need a power sander.

Bates- Sand Paper with 1 Handle, 36 Pack, Sandpaper, Sandpaper Assortment, Sand Paper Variety, Sanding Block, Sandpaper Block, Sandpaper for Wood, Automotive Sandpaper, Sand Block, Fine Grit Sandpaper

Reassemble the Blades

If you have a kitchen scale, then it is a good idea to weigh the blades individually. This will make balancing them a much faster process.

Put some masking tape on the bottom side of the fan blades, then mark down the weight for each blade. Don’t skip this step as it will be much more difficult to balance them when you don’t know which one is the heaviest.

After you have completed the steps outlined above, it’s time to reattach the blades.

Remember to use removable thread locker on ALL of the screws you screw back. This includes the screws that hold on the center cap. Blue Loctite (amazon link) is a good option.

Now measure the distance between the blade and the ceiling. Repeat this with all the blades. This distance needs to be same on all of them. Otherwise it will be wobbly and impossible to balance the blades with weights.

If one of the blades is considerably higher or lower, you can lightly bend the blade holder in the desired direction, but before bending, make sure that all screws are tight.

Use Balance Kit if Needed

Even when you do a perfect job cutting the blades, the ceiling fan blades might not have been ideally balanced before you started. Unbalanced blades can lead to unwelcome grinding or clicking noises, wobbling, and reduced effectiveness, so it’s pretty important to address.

This is when a ceiling fan balance kit can help you out.

Since this is a DIY project, and we all like to be clever DIY-ers, you can even use some coins and strong double-sided tape to balance your ceiling fan 🙂 Just make sure that you use a high quality tape otherwise you will have flying coins!

How To Balance Ceiling Fan

  • Get a balancing kit (amazon link)
  • Use the plastic clip to find the lightest spot
  • Glue the weight on the blade

Ceiling fan balancing kits come with one plastic clip plus up to 5 balancing weights.

Alpurple 3 Set Ceiling Fan Blade Balancing Kit,Fan Balancing Kits Include 3 PCS Plastic Balancing Clip and 9 PCS Metal Self-adhesive 3G Weight

As we discussed earlier, it is a good idea to weigh the blades when they are off the fan. If you did that, great! Then you know exactly which one you have to start with.

If you didn’t weigh them then you need to test them one by one to see which one needs help.

Start with the lightest blade and take the plastic clip and attach it to the middle of the blade (lengthwise).

Turn the fan on and inspect if it is better, if not move the clip inch by inch until the wobble is the smallest.

When you have found the place where the extra weight is needed, clean the surface and glue the weight parallel with the clip.

If there is still some vibration then repeat this process with the next lightest blade.

Job well done! Now its time to enjoy the nice breeze.

Historically, fans with an odd number of blades were easier to balance. This is no longer true because of advancements in technology and design, but many fans still have an odd number of blades for the pleasing aesthetic it provides.

Consider the Noise

By shortening the blades on a ceiling fan there will be less air resistance on the blades. Consequently, the motor will run faster, and the faster the motor spins the more noise it generates.

For example, original blades are 52″ and spin at 200 revolutions per minute. By cutting them down to 48″, there is less air resistance, and the RPM increases to 300. This will generate considerably more noise.

Out Of Balance Ceiling Fan Blade

When enjoying your favorite book on the couch the last thing you want is a noisy and wobbly ceiling fan over your head. It is annoying and can also be dangerous, depending on how out of balance the blades are.

Everything that rotates must be in balance, whether it’s a motor, wheels on a car, or a ceiling fan blade. Otherwise, there will be vibration and excessive noise.

Since ceiling fan blades move quite fast, they need just a little difference in blade shape/weight/length to be out of balance. The chance of this happening when cutting down the fan blades is very high.

Think of it like this: Even the manufacturers of cheaper ceiling fans can’t produce fan blades that are perfectly balanced and quiet.

You need to make sure that the ceiling fan blade connection hole is in the center. All the blades have to be the same total weight, and the weight distribution along the blade must be identical as well.

Most ceiling fans come with a balance kit, in case you have lost your kit, you can easily buy a new one (amazon link). This might help you if you find yourself with a wobbling and out of balance fan.

Alpurple 3 Set Ceiling Fan Blade Balancing Kit,Fan Balancing Kits Include 3 PCS Plastic Balancing Clip and 9 PCS Metal Self-adhesive 3G Weight

Even if the extra sound and wobble do not bother you there is still another problem that can occur. The excess vibration is not good for the screws that are holding your ceiling fan up. After a while, they could loosen, and without warning, your ceiling fan could come crashing down.

To be fair, it is more likely that the fan will be caught by the electrical wires rather than falling completely to the floor, but such a jolt on the electrics is not going to be healthy for them.

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