Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" #5: week

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by a1Jim posted 05-10-2010 02:39 AM 7612 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: week Part 5 of Charles Neil build along mahogany lowboy "series" series Part 6: week »

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.Photobucket


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. Photobucket 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.

Now we move to the band saw and start cutting the contour. Charles points out that one of the most critical parts of this operation is the cutting out of the foot

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

We tape the fall off (the pieces that were cut off) back on the side we just cut them off of, by taping it back on with masking tape


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.
Photobucket 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.


12 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4620 days

#1 posted 05-10-2010 02:47 AM

Hi Jim,

So far, so good, huh? I have to say, it really scares me to see a saw with no splitter, especially with a cut that deep.

Thems some nice legs!!!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 3928 days

#2 posted 05-10-2010 02:59 AM

dam i can’t wait to see it done, but i’m still here every step of the way.

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

View a1Jim's profile


117955 posts in 4217 days

#3 posted 05-10-2010 03:01 AM

Hey guys I hit enter before I was through entering this weeks progress it’s all there now.


View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4806 days

#4 posted 05-10-2010 04:21 AM

I just got here so I’m seeing it all-LOL thanks for the blog! Just send me the cut off pieces when you’re done bandsawing and I’ll make my own pattern—LOL. I can appreciate Lees’ concern about cutting such a thick piece of stock with know riving knife or splitter. Your method of repeated cuts at different depths should alleviate any adverse kick back though. I am curious though as to why you chose to use table saw instead of the bandsaw for this cutting of the leg as well. Keep on Keeping on.

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View a1Jim's profile


117955 posts in 4217 days

#5 posted 05-10-2010 04:26 AM

Hey Ken
I did’nt wan’t to change blades on my band saw and put the fence back on( a driftmaster) that’s in the way when cutting out longer peices And I knew the way I was doing it was safe for me.


View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4806 days

#6 posted 05-10-2010 04:38 AM

a1Jim, I gotcha’ now! I knew there was a reason why you hadn’t chose to just cut the whole thing out on the bandsaw. My imagination couldn’t take into account the need to change blades and remove the fence also! I went back and viewed the previous blogs associated with this project. They were great and extremely well done-Thx for taking the time to do all this and allowing us to share the build with you!

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3831 days

#7 posted 05-10-2010 07:26 AM

Jim that’s a beautiful leg in the making. The table saw cut is a little to extreme for me, and I am looking forward to you turning the legs. I also learned something new, it never occured to me that I could twist the stop over on
my osbourn miter for larger pieces such as you did (Duh).

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3974 days

#8 posted 05-10-2010 10:40 AM

Nice work and a good blog Jim. I got interested in trying out cabriolet legs some years ago, so I made a couple out of pine just to learn/practice the technique. I did two because I wanted to see how closely I could make them match. Period furniture is fun and challenging to make, so I’m sure a lot of LJ’ers including myself are really enjoying your blog series on this.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mpmitche's profile


428 posts in 3616 days

#9 posted 05-10-2010 01:11 PM

The legs look great Jim, I can’t wait to see more.

-- Mike, Western New York

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3926 days

#10 posted 05-10-2010 05:42 PM

Another great blog Jim. The pictures make it easy to follow



View jack1's profile


2139 posts in 4667 days

#11 posted 05-11-2010 02:33 AM

Nice work.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3713 days

#12 posted 05-16-2010 08:52 AM

Great blog Jim! I somehow managed to miss the earlier ones when they were posted but I’m definately following now.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics