Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Details on Making Your Cabriole Legs

The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, in still pictures, here are the steps for creating the cabriole leg. I promise, this is the last that I'll write on this, unless someone presses me for more details!
Step one: Cut your wood to a length that is slightly longer than the cabriole leg. (See photo at lef.) As you can see, there is a little white space above and below the table leg  drawing.

Step two: Cut the leg blanks. I placed the piece of wood on its side against the saw blade and then pushed the fence up against the block of wood. This way, I know I'll be cutting a block of wood that is as wide as it is deep. The length, of course, will be as long as the table leg blank.

You can see from this angle how I cut the blanks for the leg pieces. The cabriole leg I designed here is less that 3/4" wide. So I am able to cut all four table legs from a single piece of 1 x 4 wood.

Step 3: Cut out the paper drawing of the cabriole leg. Fold the paper along the dotted line (see previous blog for photos of the cabriole leg drawings). Use any kind of craft glue or double-stick tape to apply the drawing to the sides of the table leg blank.

 In this photograph you can see that I glued the paper tightly to the blank. I did not leave any gaps between the fold and the wood. (If there are any gaps, the cutting process will not be accurate.)

Step 4: Begin cutting the leg. In this illustration, you can see how I use a lighted, artist's magnifying glass with my table jigsaw. This makes it much easier for me to look at the piece and see exactly where I'm cutting.

I began to saw the cabriole leg by cutting through the bottom of the blank, and continued up along one side of the leg. I make sure to stay on the outside edge of the black line.

When I got to the top of the leg, I continued to cut a little above the leg, then made a gentle curve over to the other side of the leg, and then cut down along the back side of the cabriole leg. I continued to cut all the way along that side until I cut through the bottom edge of the blank.

As you can see, when I finished this cut, the "leg" is loose within the blank. It could actually fall out, and it could wiggle as I cut the other side.

Step 5: Put clear tape around the blank piece to prevent the leg from moving. This will help you to make a more accurate cut as turn the leg a quarter turn and make the same series of cuts on side two of the blank.

As you get to the end of the cut, be sure to hold down the piece of wood so that the wood doesn't rattle as you make the final cutting strokes on the piece. (Note my finger at the top of the table leg in the photo at left - the saw blade is at the bottom of this picture.)

Step 6: If you have a table saw, I recommend cutting the bottom and top of the leg using this saw so that you get a precise, right-angle cut. If you don't have a table saw, take a try square, mark all the way across the piece of wood and slice the bottom and top edges  of your table leg. 
Step 7: Remove the waste from your table leg. You will have nine pieces of wood. Only one - the one in middle - is useable. The rest become scrapwood, unfortunately.

At this point, you will have a roughly cut table leg. You'll need to sand it and perhaps carve it. I usually round the edge of the outside curved portion of the leg. I also use my Dremel tool to round the underside (back) of the leg. I try to leave the sides of the leg fairly "sharp." I will sand them to remove the raw cut marks, but generally, I prefer not to round their edges as much as the front and back. Find some examples of real cabriole legs and study them to see how the woodworker finished those pieces. That will give you a better sense of how to finish the cabriole legs.

I hope this has been helpful for you. Have fun with your cutting! 


Peach Blossom Hill said...

Gosh, George--your directions are wonderful but I am still spatially challenged and only have a Microlux Mini Saw but I am going to give this a try. Thank you for the detailed instructions. I so wish I could do them and maybe if I practice . . .


George the Miniguy said...

If your Microlux Mini is the scroll saw, then I think you could probably do it, Jody. I'd use pine or basswood on the Microlux, since it says it will cut up to 1/2" hardwoods. The pictures I have in the blog are of a piece of walnut. That might make your Microlux struggle, but pine "should" be do-able! ;o)

Daydreamer said...

Wow, George! Very nice instructions! I will add it to my list of things that I want to try to make by myself...only now they might turn out half-way decent on my first try...:) I only have a hand saw at the moment so they might only turn out a quarter decent....thanks for explaining so clearly!

miniaturista said...

Se ve el trabjo con mucha precisión.
así que´dará perfecto.
Un saludo

Marie75 said...

Thank you so much for this GREAT tutorial ! I have made my very first leg following your instructions. It is not yet perfect but I am quiet proud with the result. With a bit of improving, it should look like the ideal leg I have in mind !!!

George the Miniguy said...

I'm delighted these instructions worked so well for you. I'd love to see your finished table/chair/bed or whatever it is you put the cabriole legs onto!

Marie75 said...

I will ! For sure.
I just need a bit of time to draw the plans of my lady's desk ;-)

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