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Turning legs?

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Forum topic by Austin6 posted 02-26-2021 02:36 PM 383 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Austin6

38 posts in 233 days


02-26-2021 02:36 PM

Hello, my wife has recently tasked me with building us a dining table. I have always preferred the look of turned legs on a dining table, but never really considered it an option although I have a 36” copy lathe. Last night I was laying down thinking….how hard could turning 4 semi identical legs actually be? So that’s what I’m asking here, how hard is it? I’m not looking for absolutely dead on 4 identical legs or any intricate design, but I’d love to at least try. Any tips, advice, old timers knowledge that I should know going in? We will paint the base so I’ll probably just buy a 10 foot pine 4×4 and turn the legs out of that.


11 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6917 posts in 3544 days


#1 posted 02-26-2021 02:59 PM

As it turns out I’m trying to do that very thing right now. I’m getting ready to start my 3rd practice leg. It almost certainly depends on the details of the leg, but I’m finding it fairly difficult (I’m not a turnwer by any stretch f the imagination though I’ve had a lathe for 7 years or so. My table is much smaller (a William and Mary side table) but the legs have a fair amount of detail. My first 2 attempts (below) show some of the detail. I’ve even redesigned it a little to make it easier to turn. But I have no hope of making 4 of them identical….I just want them to be close enough not to matter. The bottom is my first attempt, the top my second…I have 4 more practice pieces to go.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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Austin6

38 posts in 233 days


#2 posted 02-26-2021 04:06 PM



As it turns out I m trying to do that very thing right now. I m getting ready to start my 3rd practice leg. It almost certainly depends on the details of the leg, but I m finding it fairly difficult (I m not a turnwer by any stretch f the imagination though I ve had a lathe for 7 years or so. My table is much smaller (a William and Mary side table) but the legs have a fair amount of detail. My first 2 attempts (below) show some of the detail. I ve even redesigned it a little to make it easier to turn. But I have no hope of making 4 of them identical….I just want them to be close enough not to matter. The bottom is my first attempt, the top my second…I have 4 more practice pieces to go.

- Fred Hargis


Hey good to know I’m not alone. Personally, I think those two look great! I will probably even go with less detail than you. Appreciate the comment.

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SMP

3773 posts in 956 days


#3 posted 02-26-2021 04:21 PM

I have only done similar with metal using a metal copy lathe. As mentioned lt is highly dependent on detail and tooling. What you may want to do is look at Osborne online and check out some of their designs and take cues from some pf their less detailed legs.(thats where i personally buy legs, as i don’t have a copy lathe for wood)
https://www.osbornewood.com/Dining-Table-Legs.aspx

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Austin6

38 posts in 233 days


#4 posted 02-26-2021 04:48 PM



I have only done similar with metal using a metal copy lathe. As mentioned lt is highly dependent on detail and tooling. What you may want to do is look at Osborne online and check out some of their designs and take cues from some pf their less detailed legs.(thats where i personally buy legs, as i don’t have a copy lathe for wood)
https://www.osbornewood.com/Dining-Table-Legs.aspx

- SMP


Thanks a bunch! I will definitely check them out.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5349 posts in 5011 days


#5 posted 02-26-2021 05:41 PM

I’m in SMP’s camp. Osborne is my source for the legs (turned) that I’ve used.

-- [email protected]

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

1774 posts in 2780 days


#6 posted 02-27-2021 12:12 AM

Your spacing on the legs should be enough that if you look, you probably couldn’t see any difference. But, those you showed above would definitely stand out as not the same. I hope you are looking for a pattern you like best, and then go for it. When you get the four legs you are gonna use, please show them. Your skills shown above tells me that you just need to decide what pattern you want to use….. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

View Austin6's profile

Austin6

38 posts in 233 days


#7 posted 02-27-2021 12:40 AM



Your spacing on the legs should be enough that if you look, you probably couldn t see any difference. But, those you showed above would definitely stand out as not the same. I hope you are looking for a pattern you like best, and then go for it. When you get the four legs you are gonna use, please show them. Your skills shown above tells me that you just need to decide what pattern you want to use….. Jerry (in Tucson)

- Nubsnstubs


The legs shown above were actually from a commenter who had a similar task as to what I’m planning on doing. I haven’t begun my journey quite yet.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7227 posts in 1633 days


#8 posted 02-27-2021 02:21 AM

It’s not easy, but some of my first spindle turning was the legs for my forge table and they kinda all look the same. They’re very simple, but I like to think I stayed within my abilities.

For repeating them, once you get one that you like, mark out the details to the correct depths with a parting tool, then turn the bits between those details as best you can. But having marks to work to makes it a lot easier to get the turnings close enough that they don’t look horrible together, at least in my experience.

Good luck! I don’t know if I’d would try “inside furniture” as my first project (I did shop furniture), but more power to you if you do!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2771 posts in 3040 days


#9 posted 02-27-2021 08:04 PM

If you have an actual copy/duplicator lathe where a template or original part guides the cutter, its a piece of cake, especially if you are painting them. They use scraper tool bits which sometimes dont leave a great surface but primer and paint will hide that.

If its a copy lathe that only holds a piece and the user must control the tool, its a much bigger challenge, but can be done. It takes a long time to mark the inflection points and using calipers to get the right size, in addition to working slowly with cuts to avoid mistakes, but is doable. I turn a lot and do not like doing it, but have done a few successfully.

View Austin6's profile

Austin6

38 posts in 233 days


#10 posted 02-27-2021 08:11 PM



It’s not easy, but some of my first spindle turning was the legs for my forge table and they kinda all look the same. They’re very simple, but I like to think I stayed within my abilities.

For repeating them, once you get one that you like, mark out the details to the correct depths with a parting tool, then turn the bits between those details as best you can. But having marks to work to makes it a lot easier to get the turnings close enough that they don’t look horrible together, at least in my experience.

Good luck! I don’t know if I’d would try “inside furniture” as my first project (I did shop furniture), but more power to you if you do!

- Dave Polaschek


Thanks, I’m sure I’ll mess it up a good bit. But it’s worth a 10 dollar 4×4 to at least try haha

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7915 posts in 3964 days


#11 posted 02-27-2021 09:38 PM

As for me, I thought about getting a copy-platform for turning, however, I just would not trust myself to “copy” by following the/a template. Part of my reasoning is distraction resulting in a gouge or even worse, and injury.

Instead, after making the first leg, I then measure every low/tight turn radius, how wide they are apart, and how wide/thick they are at max. And of course I use the visual of keeping the first leg in front of me.

FWIW, my legs are not identical, but as mentioned above, it is not noticeable once the legs are mounted and functioning… ;-)

https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/90000

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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