Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cabriole Leg Making

Well I started with 3" x 3" x 19" pieces of black walnut for making the table legs. The first step is to cut the mortises into them, while they are still square. If I were to cut the curved part of the leg first, then it would be very difficult to hold the leg square to the mortise chisel later. In this photo you can see the pattern I traced onto the two adjacent sides:

Even though I really only need four legs for the table, I cut out enough blanks for six legs:

Here is how the mortises are cut into the leg: with a mortise chisel. A mortise chisel is a chisel made from a square piece of steel tubing. Inside the tube is a drill bit. So as you push the chisel into the wood, the drill removes the majority of the wood, while the chisel insures that the sides of the hole are square:

Here is what the completed mortise looks like:

There needs to be a mortise on two adjacent edges of the legs, to accept the tenons that will be cut into the stretchers that connect the legs:

The next step is to cut the top of the legs to size. To do this, a table saw tenoning jig is used. The jig holds the leg firmly in place, and more importantly keeps your hands away from the blade. In this operation, the blade is raised to a level of 3", which can be dangerous:

Looking from the back of the saw, you can see how the blade will first come into contact with the leg:

Still looking from the back of the saw, after the cut:

Two total cuts are made to set the leg of the upper portion of the leg:

Next, the leg is put on the table saw sled and the unwanted pieces fall away:

Here is what the leg looks like at the end of this operation:

Now the curved cuts are made on the bandsaw. The thing with cabriole legs is that as you cut one curved piece, you need to tape it back onto the blank. There are two reasons for this: first, you want to keep the piece square and as you cut the curves, the piece becomes unsquare. Second, if you don't tape the cut off pieces back on, you lose the lines you are supposed to follow!

After all the curves are cut, the blanks look like this:

I'll "unwrap" each layer of wood and expose the leg:

Almost there...


When the cutting's all done, here's your leg!

In the next post, I will describe how you take this rough leg and get it smoothed out!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Table Re-design

Well the idea of making a table based on an elliptical frame proved to be more a project than my current tools will support. So after talking with Gary Jr., we decided to go with a rectangular table top for the coffee table. We also decided that the first set of legs would not look right with the rectangular top. The original design called for the legs to be at the north, south, east and west sides of the ellipse. The new table design calls for the legs to be placed one in each corner. So I used the same leg design template, but made the cuts in two dimensions on the bandsaw. I'll post some more text and pictures to describe the process. But for now, here are some pictures of the prototype leg I made this evening: