Tuesday, March 4

Making Legs

Today we make the legs for Ira’s tables. I start by taking the parts blanks I roughed out yesterday and send them through the surface planer to bring them down to the required thickness, make both flat faces parallel to one another and to smooth them. I’m removing a fair amount of wood, so it took multiple passes on all 16 legs.

Then they go to the table saw where I trim them to width and length. I use a good miter fence to get them all exactly the same length. When trimming to width I check to see if the blank has bowed any at all. Most do, just a little, as they are being sawn from larger boards. This is why I cut them oversize. I put the concave edge against the fence and trim away the convex side on each leg then reset the fence, flip the parts over and run the freshly sawn edge against the fence to straighten out the concave edge. The result is nice straight legs. They will continue to move around a little bit with the varying humidity in the air, wood does that, but we’ll start off by getting them as straight as we can.

Next I lay them all out on a bench and look them over. I want to pair up the legs by grain pattern and coloring so they look good together, then match pairs into sets of four. I also need to look for things that would indicate whether one end should be at the top or bottom. Once they are all paired up I label them to keep them together as I work with them.

Dolly, my faithful shop assistant, is not happy with me today. She does not like the sound the table saw makes, and normally will stalk over to the door and demand to be let out as soon as I start it up, but today it’s raining. She hates the rain even more than the table saw, so she sits in the hallway and glares at me. But, now, I’m moving on to quieter things.

Now that the legs are the right size I begin laying out the assortment of screw holes and the rounded ends by using the leg template. This template is not as long as a leg; it doesn’t need to be if I’m a bit clever with its design. Some of the screw holes are counter-bored for screw hole plugs, others are not. The inside leg of each pair has holes bored from both faces, the outside leg of the pair does not. It is imperative to keep track of what is what.

I rough out the curved ends on the bandsaw and finish them up on the stationary belt sander, then step over to the drill press and bore the screw holes using a #8 Fuller bit that drills the pilot hole and counterbore all at once. Very handy; a great time saver. A counterbore is like a small well with the screw head sitting at its bottom. This ‘well’ will get a round wooden plug glued into it to hide the screw. Many manufacturers these days simply counter sink the screws – meaning they drill a V shaped hole that allows the screw’s head to sit flush with the wood – then apply a wood grained sticker over the screw head after the piece is finished to hide the screw. The way I do it is better.

At the end of the day I have the leg sets for four tables done with a little time to spare, so I made up the leg mount blocks as well.

Now it’s time to clean up the shop, put away the tools and get ready to go home for supper.

See you tomorrow.


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