Joinery used for bracket feet?

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Forum topic by Pete Mohr posted 05-19-2010 05:08 PM 2472 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Pete Mohr

75 posts in 3288 days

05-19-2010 05:08 PM

Many period pieces with flat or ogee bracket feet miter the front feet but use half blind dovetails on the back feet. I guess they did that because the miter looks better in front and the DT’s in back are stronger. Seems like it would be quicker and easier to just use miters front and back.

Any thoughts on why it was done this way?


-- "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." -Anatole France

2 replies so far

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409 posts in 3671 days

#1 posted 05-19-2010 06:24 PM

The miter is pretty weak and needs re-enforcement either by spline or glue-blocks behind. Or you can make a false foot glue block that sticks down a 1/16” or so so that the weight rides on that instead of the bracket feet. This only works well if you have hardwood floors (no 18th century wall-to-wall carpet…). The mitered foot with the ogee wrapping around looks great.

The rear bracket feet do not show except on the sides as you said. So doing a 1/2 blind DT makes them pretty strong. Since only the side foot has any detail, it would be like the drawer front of a serpentine or bowfront table with sockets in that piece and the tails in the part that faces the wall. This gives great strength against the foot coming apart as the chest is slid side to side but only the glue is holding it against front to back wracking force.

Dovetails as visible decoration are a more modern interpretation.

So, it would be “faster” to miter them all if you are working with power tools. A spline through the miter makes a big difference. Adding a glue block foot behind the decorative bracket feet could still be done but if you are on carpet, it won’t help much to support weight. Everything will get caught up on the carpet if somebody slides it instead of lifting it.

In short, its your piece. Unless you are doing a restoration or replacement piece that requires 100% authenticity, make the feet how you please. There was a recent blog post over at Popular Woodworking by Dale Huey about bracket feet and the cutting of the cove and ogee.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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Pete Mohr

75 posts in 3288 days

#2 posted 05-19-2010 09:31 PM

My current project is a Welsh Dresser (hutch) and I did go with DT’s on the rear feet. The front are splined miters with glue blocks behind.

After a little more thought . . .
The back rear foot is made from a secondary wood (possibly scrap) which might not be the same thickness as the show foot so a miter wouldn’t work well but with DT’s it doesn’t really matter if the back foot is a bit thinner.

Just thinking . . .

-- "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." -Anatole France

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