How I make cabriole legs, long, lots of pictures.

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Blog entry by AlaskaGuy posted 930 days ago 4929 reads 11 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For this tutorial I going to use some pine I have laying around the shop. I glued up and number of pieces to get a blank big enough that my pattern will fit on them plus another 1/4’’ so. It’s real important that the blanks are square.


First I make up the blanks and my leg pattern. Next I cut the blanks to the same length as my pattern.


Then I draw the pattern on two sides of my blank.




Once you’ve gotten this far it’s time to make your mortises where the apron fits the legs.

I have a few ways to make mortises but since these are going to be 3’’ long I’m going to use my slot mortiser which is an add on to my Felder Joiner/planer.


Here’s is a small video of the slot mortiser in motion. Just follow the link.


After the mortising is done it’s time to take it to my big band saw and do the straight cuts on the straight areas.

Now I go to the small band saw for the curved cut using a 1/4’’ blade.

I start cutting from one end and cut about halfway along the line. I back it out of the cut,  turn it around and cut from the other end meeting the other cut but I stop short so the piece does not fall off. This is so when I cut the pattern on other side I’ll have a flat surface to lay on the band saw table.

I cut all the curved lines leaving as above and when I’m done cutting I can break the pieces off and I’m left with a ruffed out leg.

Now I break all the pieces off and this is what I have at this point.

Next I’m going to lay out the foot of the leg. I mark the center of the bottom of the leg and draw a circle with a 5/8’’ radius.

Now we layout the top of the foot.

Now you have a layout line on the top and bottom of the foot. The circle on the bottom of the foot is smaller than on the top and so we’ll end up with a beveled foot when we connect the lines. But first were going to ruff chop off some to the waste wood.

Now I’m going to connect the lines using my disk sander to grind off the waste.

Once the foot is shaped the leg goes to my OSS to do most of the sanding and shaping.

Next the leg goes on my vice for final sanding and fine tuning.

The most difficult/time consuming part for me is make a nice transition where

the knee of the the leg meet the square part of the let. Here I use chisels, files and sand paper to work this area.

when I’m finished it looks something like this. BTW the transition blocks are made after the leg are fitted to the apron.






-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

12 comments so far

View rance's profile


4130 posts in 1795 days

#1 posted 930 days ago

A well laid out blog. Thanks for sharing.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View lanwater's profile


3076 posts in 1568 days

#2 posted 929 days ago

Thanks for the blog.

The many pictures makes it easy to understand.


-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View stefang's profile


12953 posts in 1968 days

#3 posted 929 days ago

Excellent tutorial and the result looks super. I am surprised your didn’t use spokeshaves for the shaping work. No criticism intended, just wondering.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Roger's profile (online now)


14398 posts in 1438 days

#4 posted 929 days ago

very educational. thnx for taking the time for the step-by-step. very kool

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View Rob_n_Wood's profile


109 posts in 1983 days

#5 posted 929 days ago

You make it look so simple and I know it is not
Thanks for sharing

-- "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." Thomas Jefferson

View gfadvm's profile


10737 posts in 1324 days

#6 posted 929 days ago

Wow, That is beautiful and your blog makes it look like even I could do this. NOT!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile


112018 posts in 2211 days

#7 posted 929 days ago

great blog and photo layout.

-- Custom furniture

View bhog's profile


2078 posts in 1324 days

#8 posted 928 days ago

Good stuff,will definately come in handy.

-- I don't drive a Prius.

View Mark Miller's profile

Mark Miller

58 posts in 1798 days

#9 posted 854 days ago

Great Blog and info. Thanks Mark


View thedude50's profile


3512 posts in 1112 days

#10 posted 854 days ago

I too do mine with out a spoke shave but i use a Shinto rasp it is fast and you dont end up looking blocky I loved this tutorial it should be taught in my classes almost just like your blog I think I will do something simular on Woodshopuniversity,com

-- when I am not on Lumberjocks I am on @ where we allow free speech

View albachippie's profile


533 posts in 1669 days

#11 posted 588 days ago

Brilliant tutorial, thanks so much for this, just what I was looking for

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland -

View helluvawreck's profile


15627 posts in 1501 days

#12 posted 588 days ago

It’s a nice tutorial and the legs look great.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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