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Three different leg styles; (from left to right) a tapered leg, with two adjacent sides sawn on a table saw;

a cabriole leg cut on a band saw and shaped with a spokeshave; and a turned leg fashioned on a lathe.

 

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CABRIOLE LEG

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Designing the leg

For a template, cut a piece of plywood or hardboard to the same length and width as your leg blanks. To draw the leg, start by outlining the post block. Make its length equal to the width of the rail that will be attached to the leg; the width should be adequate to accept the tenon of the rail (one-half to two-thirds the width of the stock is typical). Next, sketch the toe; for a leg of the proportions shown it should be about У* to 1 inch from the bottom of the leg. Then, using a french curve, draw the front of the leg from the toe to the ankle; at its nar­
rowest point, the thickness of the ankle should be about two – fifths the stock width. Move on to the knee, sketching a gentle curve from the post block to the front edge of the template 2 to 3 inches below the block. Then join the knee to the ankle with a relatively straight line. Complete the outline at the back of the leg, connecting the bottom of the leg with the back of the ankle. Then sketch a curve from the ankle to the bottom of the post block (above). Experiment with the outline unW you have a satisfactory design.

2 Transferring the design to the leg blank

LEGSCut out your template on a band saw and sand the edges up to the marked out­line. Hold the template flat on one inside face of the leg blank, making sure that the ends of the template and the blank are aligned and that the back of the post block is flush with the inside edge of the block of wood. Trace along the edges of the template to outline the leg. Turn the block and repeat the procedure on the other inside face (right). At this point, some woodworkers prefer to make prepa­rations for the joinery before cutting the leg. (It is easier to clamp and cut a mor­tise in a rectangular leg blank, for exam­ple, than to carry out the same proce­dures on a leg with pronounced contours.) Other woodworkers cut the leg first and then do the joinery.

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Making the cuts on one face of the leg

Set the leg blank on your band saw table with one of the marked outlines facing up and the bottom of the leg pointing away from you. Aligning the saw blade just to the waste side of the marked line for the back of the leg, feed the stock into the blade. Turn off the saw about halfway through the cut and
remove the workpiece. Then cut along the same line from the opposite end. To avoid detaching the waste piece from the blank and losing the marked outline on the adjacent face, stop the cut about Vi inch from the first kerf, leaving a short bridge between the two cuts. Turn off the saw, retract the work – piece, then cut along the line for the front of the leg (above).

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Making the cuts on the adjacent face

Turn the blank so that the marked outline on its adjacent side is facing up. Cut along the marked lines, beginmg at the foot (above). This time, complete the cuts, letting the waste pieces fall away.

Cutting the bridges

Rotate the blank so that the first face you cut faces up. With the saw off, slide the blank forward to feed the blade into the kerf at the back of the leg. Turn on the saw and cut through the bridge to release the waste piece (above). Then cut through the bridge between kerfs at the back of the leg.

Spokeshave

 

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TAPERED LEGS

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Making a taper jig

Mark a line all around the leg blank near the top end to define

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TURNED LEGS

 

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1 Defining the pommel

Mark a line all around the leg blank near the top end to define the pommel. Mount the blank between centers on your lathe and use a skew chisel to turn a rounded V-groove on the workpiece, start­ing about Vt inch below the pommel line. The groove will separate the square pom­mel from the cylindrical portion of the leg. Deepen the groove until it runs com­pletely around the workpiece, then widen it by cutting with the long point of the chisel pointed forward. Rotate the handle from side to side so the bevel rubs against the sides of the groove (right). Stop when you reach the pommel line.

 

 

Pommel

 

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Roughing

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2 Turning the leg

Use a roughing gouge to turn the blank into a cylinder (above). Keep the bevel of the tool rubbing on the stock throughout. Once the leg is smooth and its shape is uniform, use a spindle gouge (left) and a skew chisel to add decorative • elements such as beads or coves.

 

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