A nice set of curved legs


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21 Mar 2017
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This is a an exercise in laminating to produce a set of legs which are both tapered and curved. It is based on an article written bt David Charlesworth in the very first edition of Furniture and cabinet making in 1996
The table I was making would be 600mm high and the laminates I needed would have to be around 680mm long. This would allow enough length to clamp the laminates beyond the length they would be cut at which gives tight joints all the way and reduces springback.
The legs would be made from American Black Walnut with 2 solid inlay lines of Ash
Selecting material for the laminate

To get the best result which show the joint lines the least I selected timber with the straightest grain on the sides of the laminates as when everything is curved there is less grain mismatch.


It is also essential to mark up the laminates and keep them in order to maintain colour and grain match. I do this by drawing a triangle on the side of the piece of stock and also numbering each laminate as it is cut. All of the laminates were initially cut to 4.5mm thick X 45mm wide. The process I use is to plane up all the material square all round. I set the bandsaw fence to give 4.5mm and use a 2/3 variable tooth blade. Once the first laminate is cut, the main piece is passed over the planer to remove saw marks and the next laminate is cut. This means that all the laminates will have one planed face and one sawn face.
Each leg is made up of 7 central laminations. 2 white ash laminations and 2 face laminations. The face laminations were all cut from a separate blank. This does mean that there is a slight colour and grain change from the core but this change is hidden by the ash laminates.

It does mean that the most visible part of the legs all look identical

The next stage is to taper the 7 core laminates. I wanted these to be 4mm thick at the centre but only 2mm at the ends. This would mean that the finished legs would be 28mm thick at the ends and 42mm at the middle
I made a jig consisting of 2 boards which tapered by 2mm over 330mm and glued these onto a plywood substrate20240217_135245.jpg
A laminate was placed on the jig and passed through the drum sander. Taking off about 0.5mm per pass, initially only material was removed from the ends but subsequent passes removed material along more of the length of the laminate. I did all 28 core laminates as a batch to ensure they were all consistent
The Ash laminates were finished to 3mm thickness along the entire length and the outermost walnut laminates were 4mm along the entire length
The completed pack of laminates for each leg looked like the image below
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The laminating former is made from 3 layers of 15mm melamine coated chipboard This old kitchen unit . One 15mm template is cut and accurately shaped a second layer is roughly shaped and screwed to it and then trimmed with a bearing guided router cutter and this is repeated for the third layer. A removable back is fitted which gives a register for the laminates and ensures a good straight stack, The melamine is non stick but all the other faces which could get glue on are covered in packing tape. To get good tight edges to the laminates I shaped the clamping blocks so that all of the pressure is focussed in the outside edges. I find that the laminate edges tend to get slightly oversanded and these can add up over a number of laminates. The second photo shows this but because of the clamping blocks the edges are all tight


For laminating I always use Aerolite UF glue as it sets rigid and has a long open time. I coat both sides of each laminate (except the outside 2 and then clamp up from the centre outwards


After the initial clamp up I clean off all squeezed out glue and then remove the back alignment board to clean up the back. The next 2 images show before and after clean up. Set UF glue can be very hard to remove
The finished laminate
The laminates were then trimmed to length using the laminating former as a marking jig and planed to a consistent smooth thickness of 42mm
The next stage was to join all 4 laminated together into a central pedestal. I could have planed a flat on the point where all the 4 laminates would come together and glue a central square section in but I thought this was crude
I mounted each laminate on the sliding table saw and cut long mitres


The long mitres were then joined using dominos. A small amount of tweaking and all the white inlay lines do line up. I havent glued it up yet as there is a bit of finishing which is easier in pieces

I havent made the top yet. This will be bandsawn black walnut veenered birch ply with the veneers in a sunburst pattern
It has only taken me 28 years to get round to this. I might even do a full sized dining table
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