Octagonal Tapered Legs


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niall Y

Established Member
1 Nov 2018
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I thought some folk might be interested in how I make these legs. I used to make sets of these before I ever had a lathe and the process was substantially the same as the one I use now.

First, the stock is planed square and to length. - in this case 44mm x 44mm x 600mm. The sections are then placed in a cradle with the wood canted to the required angle using several supports of varying size beneath. And, the whole is passed through the thicknesser several times to plane the slope,

Afterwards, the second taper is planed. The side of the cradle is repositioned to take into account the first taper, so the wood can still be held firmly in place.

The tenons are now marked and turned to their particular taper, on the lathe. These will fit the mortises in the chair seat.

Next the legs are fitted onto a second cradle which allows them to be planed to an octagon. The supports are two pairs of 45 degree section, timber blocks, placed side by side The first pair are toed slightly together to take into account the geometry of the leg at its lowest point, The second pair are also toed together, but have substantially more wood removed, where they abut, to push the resulting V-support , higher up.

Finally, the legs are cleaned up with a smoothing plane and the top of the octagon is blended to the circular tenon, before a final finish with a scraper.

The photos, in order, illustrate the complete process.


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They look neat!
I've done similar but differently.
Start with blank planed square.
Scribe circle at each end, different diameters for the taper.
Draw octagon around each scribe with pin gauge and knife marks.
Band saw each facet joining the marks, with allowance for planing.
Finish each facet to the marks with hand planes. This is useful as you can alter your attack or even revert to scraper, in cases of tear out and grain changes.
Turn cylindrical tenon, not tapered, except slight taper where it meet the facets. This makes them a tight fit when you hammer them into the drilled out mortice. Then wedge in the usual way.
If you like hand planing (I do) then miss out the bandsaw bit.
I've also done it freehand straight without taper and without marking the octagon at each end, so the facets come out with random variations. This was for some wany-edge tables and looked appropriate.

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