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Thread: Table Legs......?????

  1. #1
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    Question Table Legs......?????

    Well, now that Kermit is working, and can be used, and as the clock is ticking, I have less than ten days to learn or teach myself how to turn some table legs for a Magazine photo shoot!

    I've read some books and looked at some stuff online, but one quick question, do you cut the blanks to the exact final length of the table leg?

    The tops of the legs are covered by the table top, so the drive center mark should not be a problem, and the bottom of the leg sits on the floor, so the live center mark should not be a problem.

    I would think that this would really cut down on any length issues, as the length of all four legs would be set before they even get on the lathe..........?

    Also, if anyone has a good online resource for turning table legs, please share.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  2. #2
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    Stu, (Disclaimer FIRST) , I AM NOT and certainly have NEVER been a Turning pro, however I did do some turning for a while in my teens (about 50+ yrs ago), and a very few times since. I have done it both ways you mention on the few table legs I turned. If the Tops of the legs will be square or not turned, then it will work well either way, (as long as you put the top of the leg at the chuck end). If, however the leg will be "turned" or even partially rounded the full length, I found that I didn't like working that close to the chuck and would cut them longer then cut them off after the turning. (It didn't seem to make any difference which way I did it though because it seemed I always had to sand a little off the bottom of one or two of them to level things up in the end. I guess they either grew or shrunk unevenly during the turning or something. (Can't give you any reference as I taught myself).

    I've got confidence in you though, so just square up some stock and draw circles on the end and then use big blue with a 45* jig to knock all the corners off and then chuck it up and start Practicing. You'll figure it out I'm sure.

    PS: I would suggest Drawing a FULL SIZE half pattern on a strip of wood that you can hold up to the workpiece on the lathe to transfer the marks at the different cuts, beads, etc.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Norman!

    I found this site.......

    http://www.alanlacer.com/articles/table_legs.html

    lots of good info, and it answers a few of my questions.

    The blanks they gave me suck.....

    Hard maple glue ups, one half of the blanks are straight as an arrow, and other half are wild and curly............ oh well, should be fun to see how it turns.

    I have three blanks glued up from some Ash, I found a table in the garbage here, cut the top up, and glued it up, but I'll need more practice, I think, so I'll hit the 2x4s

    I did the full scale drawing, that is good info.

    Got to get my skew work down pat......

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
    Either ---Or

    Depends on the design, but I prefer to start with exact length leg blanks. Easier to get all four to reach the floor that way. As the top covers the spur marks and the floor covers the tail center mark, you will never see the scars. An exposed leg top is a different critter but can be precut to length if a Chuck is used and the top of the leg design allows for the flat surfaces (of course there will be marks left by the chuck, to contend with.

  5. #5
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    I would go with small waste blocks at both ends. The top especially might be hard to get exactly square if the drive center is on the end of the finished item. By parting off the waste, you will end up with ends absolutely square with the line from drive to tail. Just IMHO.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    I would go with small waste blocks at both ends. The top especially might be hard to get exactly square if the drive center is on the end of the finished item. By parting off the waste, you will end up with ends absolutely square with the line from drive to tail. Just IMHO.
    Not to argue the point but I don't see your justification.... With stock precut to thickness, width and squared to length. Locating the center for thje drive center and the center for the tail, all planes will be exact. As for croping off already turned pieces and making the ends square, any taper in the leg would make squaring the ends a nightmare. a special jig would have to be constructed and if there is any variance at all in the shape of the turned leg, adjustments for that would have to be taken in to account.

    This is why I reccommend that you start with exact sized pieces and then the final result in exact length pieces, no matter what you do to the middle. (as long as the ends are covered.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Simpson View Post
    With stock precut to thickness, width and squared to length. Locating the center for thje drive center and the center for the tail, all planes will be exact.
    It has been my experience that "center" is an elusive little creature. Square or not, marking the center may be accurate, but driving the point of the spur will almost always slip a little bit one way or the other due to the grain of the wood and other factors. Enough to notice? Maybe not.

    It can be really obvious, though. Say you've got a leg with a nice square section that goes into a lamb's tongue pommel, or even worse a straight pommel. If you're not dead nuts centered, the round part will be offset from the square part. If the first thing beyond the pommel is a fat bead that is almost the same diameter as the square part, it's real easy to see any centering errors.

    Just my $0.02
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Beam View Post
    It has been my experience that "center" is an elusive little creature. Square or not, marking the center may be accurate, but driving the point of the spur will almost always slip a little bit one way or the other due to the grain of the wood and other factors. Enough to notice? Maybe not.

    It can be really obvious, though. Say you've got a leg with a nice square section that goes into a lamb's tongue pommel, or even worse a straight pommel. If you're not dead nuts centered, the round part will be offset from the square part. If the first thing beyond the pommel is a fat bead that is almost the same diameter as the square part, it's real easy to see any centering errors.

    Just my $0.02

    The best way to ensure that your spur center is going to go in on the center you have marked on the wood is to start a hole first before pounding it in. I use my live center, or even the spur and push it in by hand. If the spur, the just enough to make a small divot in the exact center of the wood. If the wood is too hard to be marked by hand, I will tap it gently with a plastic mallet. Alternatively, an awl is awl you need to get a good start. Hitting it hard is a good way to send it off the mark Even with this method it may go a hair off, but we are talking less than 1/32" here, so the results are fine.
    Bill Grumbine

    www.wonderfulwood.com

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