Bombarde16

Favorite turned legs?

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I need a coffee table.  I have designer's block.

I have a red oak panel salvaged from an old desk.  (26" wide x 42" long, 3/4" thick)  I have a stash of cherry that's ready to become legs and aprons.  The leg blanks look as if they should reliably dress out to a maximum of 2 7/8" square.  The apron stock should dress out to 4" wide (maybe 3 1/2"?) and 3/4" thick.  I'd rather not put stretchers and stuff down at the floor like my last coffee table; but I'm not opposed to it either.  I'm hoping to turn these legs and adding stretchers at the bottom means one is stuck with a square section in the middle of what would otherwise be turned.

At any rate, barfing that all into SketchUp, I get this:

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I'd like to turn the legs, but am drawing a blank on what to do.  I've tried some Google Image searches and found this dining table from Pier 1 Imports.  Frankly, the proportions look wrong for a large table but I sort of like the legs.  "Multiple melon turnings" I suppose you'd call it?

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Moreover, imagining this scaled down to coffee table size, I think it'd work better.

What else?  The panel I have for the top looks to be sploched or burned in spots with some sort of chemical.  I've sanded it as aggressively as I care to get with it; but it's flat-sawn red oak out of a 1950's teacher's desk and it's never going to be a show-piece.  In my mind's eye, I see finishing the oak top with black dye (the infamous Pottery Barn finish!) but finishing the cherry legs and aprons clear.  And, since this is the Wood Whisperer's forum, I'll probably cut some gentle curves around the outside of the top.

But I'm still at a loss about the legs.  What is your favorite turned leg for a low table?  (Doesn't have to use all 2 7/8" in size, that's just as much of a square blank as I see getting out of the stock allotted.)  Pictures and links welcome.  If you want to play with the SketchUp mockup, it's here.

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How experienced are you at turning? Feel up to an off-center job? I'm thinking a tapered oval leg might bee cool.

Here's a suggestion for coloring, too. Mix a relatively weak solution of lye and water. Red Devil lye, or Drain-O crystals. Use appropriate PPE, and flood the cherry with the solution. Lye makes cherry turn deep, dark red, as if it is long aged. Then for the oak top (assuming the grain pores are open), dye it dark brown or black (kiwi leather shoe dye works well for this), then seal it with a coat or two of shellac, leaving the pores somewhat open.  Then mix some acrylic artist's colors to match or complement the cherry, and squeegee it into the pores of the oak. Wipe back before it dries, or sand back after, and top coat.

I think this color scheme would make for a striking piece, although rather dark.

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Experienced enough. I've done a few off center turnings and it's an interesting idea. Any pictures?

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Sorry, that was just off the top of my head. No pics until I perfect the brainwave laser printer.

I'm thinking vaguely cabriole style, but turned, rather than sawn out. Might require more bulk to start with, though.

Maybe something square at the top for apron joinery, then round, then tapering down and offset so the foot is a narrow oval, with the long axis of the oval aligned to the outside corner of the table? I'm no turner, no idea if that is even possible, but it looks cool in my head. 

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I have no specific design to suggest, but if you haven't done so already explore (book; google) 'William and Mary style furniture' for some inspirations.  

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5 hours ago, Mark J said:

I have no specific design to suggest, but if you haven't done so already explore (book; google) 'William and Mary style furniture' for some inspirations.  

Mmmm, sure do love me a good trumpet turned leg.

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Hadn't been too interested in having lower stretchers but William & Mary pieces often have those sort of criss-crossed snakes, sometimes with a little finial poking up in the middle.  Wouldn't be too bad because the legs pierce the stretcher, rather than having stretchers mortised into a flat on the turning.

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You don't have to go the full W & M route,  just steal the elements you like.  I was going to suggest using fluting as an additional element in a turned leg.  I don't have an example handy, but I have seen that done before.

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5 hours ago, Mark J said:

You don't have to go the full W & M route,  just steal the elements you like.

Agreed.  Many of the W&M pieces I've seen have all sorts of scroll work cut into the lower edge of the apron.  I'd like to keep this apron straight a.) because my stock won't be that wide and b.) I might end up putting some drawers into this thing.

Perusing the W&M section of Gottshall's book,  we get plenty of little trumpet legs.  Some of them have a few too many beads for my taste.  Perhaps in a taller piece, there'd be more room to embellish things.  But, for a low table, I'm thinking less is more.  This little piece looks promising:

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Crunching some of the measured drawings he gives, it seems that a piece with an X-stretcher will have said stretcher about 2/11ths of the way up the total length of the leg.  Playing in SketchUp gives me this:

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Fairly stout trumpet flare with a single bead at top and bottom.  Onion shaped foot.  Looking promising enough to make a prototype, so it's off to the junk pile for some construction lumber.

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Bravo !  It's amazing what can be done with scrap & construction lumber . 

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Someone above mentioned an offset turning, so I gave that a try.

IMG_20180525_103255.thumb.jpg.b5b034b266f86f8e1f5cca91c7866569.jpg

Yes, it's a hoot to turn a backwoods cabriole, but this is too chunky for where this table will live.  That could be fixed by starting with a smaller blank or by making the table taller; but I'm going back to the W&M trumpet legs.  I've also been going back and forth about having drawers in this thing.  Working up some more detail in Sketchup, we get this:

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Crossed stretchers are just a placeholder for now.  I'll come up with something more fun when I have the actual stock.

I wanted this project to be quicker, but mission creep and all that. It'll be a bit more work making and fitting drawers, but I'm balancing this against

  1. The practicality of having drawers...even if they always do fill up with useless crap.
  2. The drawers give me more of a sense of justification in having a visually straight apron.  All of the other W&M pieces I surveyed have elaborately scrolled aprons and I just don't have the stock or the vertical space to do any of that. :( Having drawers and a simple bead (here dyed black to match the top) along the lower edge helps assuage any feelings of inadequacy.

Cherry is mostly milled with a few cracks chewing on some tinted epoxy before final milling.

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Off now to pick out some secondary crap for drawers and internals.

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A large drawer in a coffee table is a great place to scrape any embarrassing stuff from the top to hide it when quickly cleaning up before unexpected guests arrive. 

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:mellow: Hooray.  My pile of semi-milled primary wood is now joined by a pile of semi-milled secondary wood.

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All four feet turned.

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Wasn't sure the stock would be long enough to do integral tenons.  It was, but too late.  So I'm doing a floating dowel that pierces the stretcher and joins leg to foot.  Need to beg some time on a floor standing drill press because my benchtop Ryobi isn't big enough to drill into the ends of the legs.

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Check out " Big Gator drill guide v block " that might work to drill your holes.

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14 hours ago, Bombarde16 said:

All four feet turned.

Wasn't sure the stock would be long enough to do integral tenons.  It was, but too late.  So I'm doing a floating dowel that pierces the stretcher and joins leg to foot.  Need to beg some time on a floor standing drill press because my benchtop Ryobi isn't big enough to drill into the ends of the legs.

Attach it to something sturdy, remove the set screw on the head and swing it around so that the foot is under it backwards.

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Foolish me.  I have this thing called a lathe.  Lathes are capable of drilling holes.

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Holes drilled.  Time to start making some trumpets.

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Lots roughing out.  Lots of chances to practice making long planing cuts with a skew.

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