I have been getting caught up in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this spring. This challenge runs from Tuesday to Monday. Currently Cee is in her “Fun with Earth’s Elements” and the element of the week is Wood. I had to give the prompt a closer look to confirm that the way I want to approach wood is permitted. Let’s see,
“This week our topic is celebrating Wood. Wood from in the form of trees, lumber, chopped, wood made into anything, all types of wood is allowed for this challenge. Have fun.”
It looks like I’m OK.
Many of you know that I have been making things from wood since I was a child. I started by helping my father make things from wood. Those things could be furniture, utility items like shelving, jigs and fixtures that made making other things easier, or home improvements. I still enjoy making all three.
In the early-mid 1980s, I tried to make a living making things from wood. It’s a long sad story. I was doing well, if judged by the amount of repeat business I had, but not if judged by income. I closed the shop in 1986.
When I decided to close my shop, things happened quickly. The bank wanted their money, the landlord wanted me out, my new employer wanted me to start working and we all wanted a paycheck. This caused me to abruptly end work on some projects. I was stuck with lumber, hardware, and bits of things I no longer needed to build. I sold as much lumber as I could, but there was no market for parts of projects. Including two sets of four cabriole legs that were to be part of a desk and side table.
Cabriole, or Queen Anne legs are those lovely shapely legs that give Queen Anne furniture its delicate appearance. This furniture seems to float more than it seems to be supported. The legs are not difficult to make, but the work is tedious and time-consuming. You can buy ready-made cabriole legs, but they are lathe-turned and do not adhere to the time-honored form of the hand-cut variety.
I decided to make a small table from the smaller set of legs. I think it is the nicest piece of furniture I’ve ever made. The legs are mahogany, and the top of the table is a book matched assembly of four pieces of Carpathian Elm burl veneer.
A burl (American English) or burr (British English) is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds. Burl formation is typically a result of some form of stress such as an injury or a viral or fungal infection.Wikipedia
The legs are cut from square stock. A template is used to trace the outline of the leg onto two adjoining sides. The process requires taping the outcut from the first side back on so you can make the second cut. The result is a rough leg, albeit still in a square form. From there, a spokeshave and a pattern maker’s rasp are used to get the leg round. The key components of the finished leg are a “knee” that extends out from the top, a round portion below the knee, a foot with a toe and a heel that extend forward, and a pad beneath the foot. The pad is essential. You don’t notice the pad on a hard floor, but if the leg is resting on carpet, the pad sinks in, giving the appearance that the leg is sitting on top of the carpet.
One critical element of cabriole legs is the fact that very little of the grain runs from top to the foot since the legs include a concave curve at the top and a convex curve at the bottom. This makes the leg very weak with respect to lateral movement. This is why you should NEVER slide a piece of furniture that has cabriole legs. They can easily be broken. Whatever is supported by those legs, pick it up and carry it from place to place.
I built this table before having a phone to take a thousand in progress pictures. If you step through the gallery, you can read more about the process. Also, I illustrated the initial cut on a piece of scrap. Some of the captions are long. Click that little (i) in the circle thing.