Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turn, turn, turn... part one

A client recently stopped by the shop to ask if I could possibly make some legs for a dining room piece she owned. When it was new, the piece was probably about six feet tall. But someone had taken a saw and cut about seven inches from the legs.


Now the piece was shorter, didn't match the rest of the dining room set, and frankly, looked out of proportion with the others in the dining room. Here is the sideboard, with the full length legs.

My mission? To make leg extensions for the tallboy, bringing it back to it's original height. The legs start off at nearly 2" square, luckily, I had a piece of Poplar in that thickness. I rough cut the material to length,

then set up a stop block and cut all four legs to their exact length, squaring the ends.

Only two of these legs have to be turned on the lathe.

I grabbed my c
ontour gauge, which is a device that allows you to trace and copy irregular shapes and profiles. Thin metal needles are stacked in a holder; you press the device into what you want to copy, and it duplicates the profile for you — both positively and negatively. Sweet.

This is an easy way to get the outline of whatever you want to copy. I don't use this tool very often, but it's really helpful in a situation like this.

Here is a picture of what I need to duplicate; I've found it's really helpful to take photos of the piece next to a ruler or tape measure, so I can see the various measurements of what I'm recreating.

I transferred the measurements, as well as some crude shapes, to the wooden blank.

Here you can see how I've laid it out on the blank.

And now it's chucked in the lathe, where I can start turning it.

Turning wood on the lathe is fun and very addicting, but trying to duplicate something is quite the challenge. When people come by, asking me to duplicate a part, I usually warn them that my work will look generally like the original piece. Close, but no cigar, whatever the hell that means.

It's hard enough to find someone willing to repair furniture, let alone turn new parts, so most people seem willing to accept my caveat.

The first few cuts start to define the shape on the spindle.

And Stella sits on a bench nearby, watching me work. She's really just waiting for me to put the tools down and play with her.

The leg is pretty much where I want it to be, just need to do a little more sanding.

One down, one more to make.

Each leg took me about an hour, from start to finish. It's not perfect, but PDC. (That's pretty damn close, in woodworking terms.) My buddy Dan suggested I buy a duplicator, where I could mass produce wooden parts more efficiently.

Yeah... that's not going to happen. They're too expensive, and since I only do this about three times a year, it's just not worth the cost.

Now that they're made, I have to build them into the rest of the base.

I have another post for the rest of this construction coming. But here's a little video for you to enjoy while I work on the rest of the base. I think I'm finally getting the hang of video editing.


Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

I can't watch the video but I love the blogging! I haven't used a lathe but you make it look like so much fun. Hugs to Stella... what a doll!

Allison L said...

The sanding part of your video gives me strong feelings of being at the dentist, getting my teeth cleaned with that pepperminty gritty goo... :-) very cool project Jamie!