Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" #4: week

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Blog entry by a1Jim posted 05-03-2010 02:00 AM 10212 reads 2 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: In The begining Part 4 of Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" series Part 5: week »

Charles Neil lowboy build-along, #4

Hey folks, welcome back!

I want to stop and thank Charles Neil for the invitation to build this lowboy and for furnishing the material for the build, plus patterns and of course, know-how and even a lot of pre-milling of the material.
Thanks Charles!

A point I’d like to make is that I haven’t made a lowboy before and then, only a smaller version on what might be called a cabriole leg.


I have made a few pieces of furniture that incorporated cabriole legs in them, but because of time restraints, I purchased the legs for those projects.

Last time, we left off at bandsawing the pre-drawn pattern out, furnished by Charles, and sanding and trimming it to size. Guess what…? I already goofed and cut the knee a little off. So I cut the pattern out like everyone that’s building off the PDF that Charles has online for the subscribers to his ” Mastering Woodworking”, and started over on the pattern. So I glued my cut-out pattern to some ¼” ply and this time took a little more time and got my pattern cut out properly.




With the patterns, it’s important to get the shaft lined up with the lowboys’ apron and of course, to have the correct shape of your cabriole leg. As Charles points out, unless you really do a real botch job of cutting a leg out, all the legs can be contoured to look alike.

We now move forward on to the cabriole legs, one of the most challenging parts of this build, (according to Charles ). The different parts of the leg include the shaft , knee, ankle, foot, pad and later, a knee block.

The first point to make here, is that the material needs to be square…this is critical and will make things very difficult later, if it’s not square to start with.


After squaring the leg stock, it’s now important to give focus to the grain of the stock we are about to use for our legs. Before you go any further, Charles points out that it’s important to pay attention to how the grain runs, in relation to the front knee section of your leg or you may end up with what can be a unattractive bulls eye shape right at the knee. This will interfere with the lines of the completed piece and distract the eye.


After squaring the leg stock and aligning your woods’ grain, the next step is that you’ll need to prepare it for turning on the lathe, by drawing lines on the end of the stock, from corner to corner, to find center.

I mark the corners to indicate where the square part of the leg will be.


I mark the center with an awl to help mount it in the lathe.


On the foot side, I put a mark on the bottom to keep track of the proper orientation of the stock.


You will have the center mark offset back towards the heal of the leg, ¼” to help with having a good, flowing contour of your ankle to the foot.

Next we use a compass (aka: dividers) to draw a group of circles on the foot side of the stock.

The circles are centered on the offset mark on the bottom of the foot. The center circle is approximately 1½” for the pad, 2 ¼” for the foot and around 2 3/8” for the outer edge of the foot to be cleaned up later.
To help keep track of where the turning will be on the lathe, I will draw the outline of the leg on our blank and then mount it on the lathe. Before I mount the leg, I make sure the the center is well fixed by using my large carvers mallet.


The lathe will be turning on as low a speed that’s practical, being careful not turn too much off of the heel, which will be cleaned up later. The area to be turned on the foot is only about a strong ¾”, up from the bottom of the foot or bottom of the blank, plus anther ¼ “ for clearance. You have to be careful not to get carried away and take too much off and mess up the heal of your legs.






This is where I will end for this week. Next week we should be off and running, by starting to cut out and shaping our legs.


26 comments so far

View rolltopbox's profile


71 posts in 3762 days

#1 posted 05-03-2010 02:32 AM

“Before you go any further Charles points out how it’s important to pay attention to how the grain runs in relation to the front knee section of your leg or you may end up with what can be a unattractive bulls eye shape right at the knee .This will interfere with the lines of the completed piece and distract the eye. “

I would like to hear more details about this.


-- Bruce

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4072 days

#2 posted 05-03-2010 02:49 AM

looking great jim…i bet this is a fun project…and a few challenges for a pro….im enjoyin g this..thanks for the hard work of doing it all…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4346 days

#3 posted 05-03-2010 02:54 AM

Hi Bruce
You might read the part just below the photo of the square I thought that’s what I had there plus the drawings. As you said that’s a very important according to Charles. But it’s a great idea to keep me on my toes just in case I miss anything.


View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4057 days

#4 posted 05-03-2010 03:09 AM

keep em coming looks to be great start, ;)

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3942 days

#5 posted 05-03-2010 03:09 AM

Wow, Jim:

I’m really grateful that you’ve put up these pictures !

For some of us, it’s blogs like this, and the NYW reruns that allow us to see how the better woodworkers … work !

I bet you’re having fun on this.

Is it a little nerve-wracking, or … more like relaxing ?

What steps ahead give you the most pause—make you think the most about how you’re going to approach them ?

Perhaps most importantly … did you get any NEW TOOLS for this build ??? :-)

Great stuff !!

-- -- Neil

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4346 days

#6 posted 05-03-2010 03:24 AM

Thanks a lot Grizz ,Ike and Neil

It is great to get started. Since I’m working long hours in contracting it’s a little tough to make lots of progress
on the lowboy but hope to finish my large deck soon and then I can have more time to more forward.

Neil the only new tool I have purchased is Charles special router bit.


View Porosky's profile


619 posts in 4133 days

#7 posted 05-03-2010 03:24 AM

Great job Jim, this is going to be a lot of fun to follow. Inspiring!

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 4269 days

#8 posted 05-03-2010 03:45 AM

Jim you are so fortunate !!! but the again i am drunck so what do i know?

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3964 days

#9 posted 05-03-2010 03:52 AM

Nicely done Jim. I’m looking forward to more posts on this.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3834 days

#10 posted 05-03-2010 04:05 AM


Thanks for the write up. This is really cool how you are breaking it dow so it looks simple…although its clearly not.

all the best and keep them coming

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4692 days

#11 posted 05-03-2010 05:02 AM

Cant wait to see it done. Its good to see all the steps along the way, such fun enjoy wish I had that kind of time. Keep up the great posts.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4441 days

#12 posted 05-03-2010 05:07 AM

Looks good.

View Dave T's profile

Dave T

196 posts in 4388 days

#13 posted 05-03-2010 05:15 AM

Great write up and pictures. Can’t wait to see your progress on this

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6868 posts in 4748 days

#14 posted 05-03-2010 01:35 PM

Hi Jim;

Why do you have a leg from a pie crust table in the first picture? That won’t work too well on a low boy.

So far, so good!

It’s always a shame when work interferes with play. LOL


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View SPalm's profile


5335 posts in 4650 days

#15 posted 05-03-2010 02:47 PM

Thanks for posting this Jim.
I really appreciate the step by step.

I can only dream of attacking such a project.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

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