Charles Neil lowboy build-along, #5
Last week, we progressed on our lowboy project and the making of our cabriole leg, where we roughed in our foot and pad on the lathe.
A couple of points I’d like to make about turning the foot, is that when placed in the lathe, the blank is mounted in the lathe, off-center, so you need to check the clearance on the lathe on more than one side, due to the fact that one side of the blank is much closer to the lathe, than of the other side. Another issue is, when turning the foot and pad, you’ll need to taper the area to the foot, just for clearance of your tools and fingers for a safer operation, but it must not be excessive or you will remove part of the foot.
Now we have all of the feet and pads turned.
We need to start sawing the blank to reveal the cabriole leg shape. The first part we will do is the shaft (the straight part of the leg.) When Charles did this, he cut both straight sides on the table saw. He also pointed out that due to the diameter of the large blank, this can be dangerous, taking into account that the wood could pinch the blade, causing a kick back if a splitter or riving knife is not used on your table saw. Another alternative is to use a band saw with a fence and the blade set to eliminate drift. I’ve decided to use my table saw, but contrary to Charles’ advise, I do not have a splitter or riving knife (not the way I recommend doing it, either), so I will have take other precautions . The way I cut the shaft on the table saw is by cutting a little at time, making several passes, say a third of the depth each pass, therefore minimizing the possibility of kick back.
Depending on the type of table saw you have, you may want to do the cuts in steps, more or less. As Charles points out, you need to make sure you don’t cut too far down past the transition point, by forgetting that the lower part of the blade cuts further than the portion of the blade seen on the top of the cut on the blank, so a stop will be put in place on the table saw fence to help avoid over-cutting into the knee area of our leg. Another point is to check each blank to make sure you’re lining up on your shaft, instead just blindly cutting all the blanks, only to find one of the pieces of stock was a little wider or thinner than the others and cutting into your shaft.
After making our ripping cuts, we make our cross cuts by indexing of the foot side of our blank, making sure we don’t cut too deep and scaring our leg. I’m using my Osborn miter gauge, but by adding a longer board and stop to a standard miter gauge, it can be done with your miter gauge. Charles also points out that it’s best to index off of the foot, in case your blanks vary in length, so that your cross cuts end up where they should.
and the transition point from the stem to the knee.
One trick Charles has, is to keep your cut on the level, is by starting the cut, by going into the side of the leg and creating a kind of support by leaving a small section of wood and then cutting the rest of the contour. After carefully cutting out along the contour
and redrawing our cut-out lines over the areas covered by tape. We then proceed to the carefully cutting out of the other side of the contoured part of the leg.
Next time we will go back to the lathe to do some final shaping and sanding of the foot and pad. Even though the legs look a bit scary during this operation, it can be done safely if you have the lathe speed turned down as low as possible and you’re careful where your knuckles are when sanding and the legs are turning on the lathe. After the lathe work, shaping and smoothing begins, and this can be done with a variety of tools, including various spoke shaves of different shapes, rasps, files, drum sanders, oscillating spindle sanders or anything that will remove the wood and smooth and sand the contour of the legs. Charles points out for those who want to make exact measurements, to make the legs alike will drive themselves crazy. His statement that he makes repeatedly regarding the legs, is, “ if they look alike they are the alike”.
After the legs are cut out
Remember, I gathered these techniques from Charles Neils subscription online webisode, “Mastering Woodworking”. I feel it’s a real bargain for only $20 a month and for at least four, 1 hour webisodes per month (it works out to only $ 5.00 a week.) As members, you can get DVDs off the webisodes also.
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