How close is close enough?

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Hi all,

After making a "shaker style" coffee table some time ago my wife has started nagging about the "nest of tables" i promised to make - we currently have a "nest of table" :D

Well having got a lathe last birthday and making the odd thing, candle holders, bowls, lidded box etc SWIMBO says she quite fancies a set with turned legs.

With my dodgy maths i recon thats 12 legs the same for a set of three tables. OK, so hopefully after that huuuge preamble ya still with me. So back to the question, how close is close enough?

Right i have turned two legs, and side by side they are quite similar, nearly the same actually, but not exact. I recon that by the time they are separated by a couple of feet they should look ok.

What do you all think, thanks,

I think the eye is very forgiving - you won't notice differences, if they are on a table, as the top obscures the other legs at least partially.

aidan if they dont turn out you can allways cover them with a table cloth :roll:

frank as he dives for the bunker
Hi, Aidan,

Why not make three-legged tables - then you'll only need nine legs for your 'nest'! :roll:

Seriously, to get twelve items all the same is not easy. Close enough may be okay when the tables are separated but may be noticeable when they are stacked.

I would aim to get them exactly the same by starting with a diagram, either to scale or preferably full size, of a cross section top to bottom of the shape you want. Then mark on the cross section the exact measurements of the various diameters, e.g. the beads, coves, fillets, etc.

When you have the spindle on the lathe turned down to the round mark the exact positions of these features on the spindle. By proceeding slowly and carefully and using calipers for measuring the respective sizes you should end up with a table leg exactly how you want it. Then sand carefully (unless your turning is so good that you don't need to sand!) to avoid losing any fine detail - very easy to do is this. Then you can do another, and another, etc.

The theory is that you will end up with twelve (or nine) legs exactly the same. This is what to aim for anyway and you will probably end up with them all close enough to be close enough to your close enough, and a very happy SWMBO :wink: Don't forget, too, to make the most of this reason to justify one or two extra bits of kit :twisted:

Best of luck, Trev.
I use the method Trev describes, but for those special projects I also make up a thin hardboard or MDF template of the profile I am turning.
I spend a bit of time getting this just right. The profile is cut long, so that the ends can butt up against the edge of the head and tail stock (or whatever centres you're using), cut "offset" to accommodate their diameters.
When you offer the template up to your near finished turning, holding it against the head/tail stock you can easily see any areas where your line is out slightly.
I find this particularly useful for doing mutiple turnings that don't have many "landmarks".
Thanks for the replies guys, I think that the template idea (a la Norm) with all the vital dimensions on a hardboard mdf board is the way to go.

Wish i had thought of that before i started. :roll: