Arts and Crafts End Tables – Leg Construction

Finished Table Legs

Finished Table Legs

This week I was able to get two more legs profiled and glued up.  Now I only have five more for the two end tables I’m building.  Here are the steps I used to shape the profiles.

Leg component blank before profiling.

Leg component blank before profiling

1. Use a plow plane to plow a groove in the face of the component blank.

Plow a groove on the face.

Plow a groove on the face.

2. Plow a groove in the edge of the blank that is furthest from the face groove.

Plow a groove on the edge of the blank.

Plow a groove on the edge of the blank.

3. Use a rabbet plane to shorten the wall of the edge groove on the same side as the face groove.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the edge.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the edge.

4. Shorten the wall of the face groove nearest the edge.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the face.

Shorten the wall of the groove on the face.

5.  Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest to the face groove.

Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest the face groove.

Cut a rabbet in the edge nearest the face groove.

6. Use a shoulder plane to bevel both edges at 45°.

Bevel both edges at 45°

Bevel both edges at 45°

7.  Fit each mating piece so that the profiles lock together.  When they fit properly, glue and clamp.

Glued up legs

Glued up legs

I hope you’ve found this step by step walk-through useful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

Next week I hope to finish at least two more legs.  More next time…

3 thoughts on “Arts and Crafts End Tables – Leg Construction

  1. Stephen Hughes

    Hi Phil
    I enjoyed reading your walkthrough on constructing a table leg
    and am very envious of your plane collection (plow plane, rabbet plane and shoulder plane)
    But have to ask what is this project for, as I have looked at the legs, and thought is this to stop any form of table legs from twisting? and what are you doing for the leg feet?
    I feel strange to ask, but am so used to using straight forward blocks of wood as a leg, and your leg construction has had so much thought, I’ve very interested in the lest of the construction!
    Kind regards
    Steve

    Reply
    1. Phil Day Post author

      Steve, thanks for your comments. The legs are for a pair of Arts and Crafts style end tables. A lot of Arts and Crafts pieces are made with “quadralinear” or four part legs so that each face of the leg has quarter sawn grain. As for feet, there often aren’t feet on on the Arts and Crafts furniture I’ve looked at. I will just be chamfering the bottom of the legs so the legs don’t split if the tables are moved from one place to another.

      As far as twisting is concerned, the front and back legs of each table will have through tenons which should help to resist twisting. Also, I’m using quarter sawn white oak that has been air dried for more than 10 years. The lumber itself is stable which should help prevent twisting or other wood movement.

      Reply
  2. Shirley Wheeler

    Philip, this is by far one of the coolest post I have ever read/seen! The pictures and the step by step directions are very easy to follow. What a wonderful job you are doing and by hand to boot! I loved the follow up question and reply too! Can’t wait to see your next post!

    Reply

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