today I’m the making a pair of walnut
furniture legs because my daughter wants a balance beam, and because she loves
gymnastics. Design is an iterative process
I’m always building off the last thing analyzing erasing redoing refining until
I get the best shape I can. These legs followed that design process. I started
out with a scrap piece of plywood to use as a template. I marked out some basic
measurements outlining the rough size I wanted the legs to be. Then went to work
sketching out the curves, refining them until I found a shape that I liked.
I know every woodworking magazine out there has a tip section showing someone
tracing the outline of the paint can as an easy way of creating a curve, but if I
did it the easy way my curves would look just like everyone else’s curves. For
that reason when I design I try to stay away from the usual tips and
mathematical formulas such as a golden ratio. I try to trust my design eye and
feel I have trained it over the years to recognize good proportion in shapes so
if it looks good to me I hope it will look good to others. Once I was satisfied with the design of the leg I cut it free and headed over to the bandsaw
and rough out the shape. sorry this clip is so blurry I set the camera on the
edge of the bandsaw fence and so it vibrated and just made bad video I cut it to the right height at the
table saw then drew in the lower curve and cut it out at the bandsaw When I was cutting the leg out at the
bandsaw I made sure I left the line so I could smooth out the saw marks and
refine the shape at the spindle sander. Now time to mill the stock to build the
legs out of. I used the template I made as a quick reference to set the width of
the table saw and rip the parts to their final width then used the template to trace out the
shape of the leg on the stock. I flipped it over lined up my center mark and traced
out the other side flipping it ensures the piece will be
symmetrical it’s a lot easier to cut the mortises
for the floating tenons when the stock is still square. Once I cut the mortises
I head to the bandsaw to cut out the legs. The pencil line was a little hard
to see against the dark walnut so I set up a portable light on the saw. This
worked out pretty well. I cut the legs about a sixteenth of an inch oversized
so I could clean up the saw marks and make a perfect match to the template
with a router bit at the router table. used a little double stick tape to hold
the pieces together and the blue tape is to make it a little easier to break
apart after routing. I took multiple passes taking small bites with each pass
as I routed through the curves. If not careful the ingrain can catch and ruin
the workpiece. I also routed with the flow of the grain
or downhill as I routed the end grain. This also really reduces the possibility of a
catch. Then when it was time to rout the other side I flipped the workpiece over
and not the template. This way I was always routing downhill reducing the
chance of a catch Then I used a three-quarter inch radius
round over bit to give the leg a nice gentle sculpted shape. Since I’m
rounding over all four sides, on two of the sides I had no choice but to
route uphill into the grain on the curves. To prevent the wood from catching
and blowing out a chunk I took many many shallow passes until I had created a
full round over. Now that the legs are done except for a little sanding I moved
on to making the beam. I just used standard construction lumber. I joined
a few two by eights flat then ran them through the planer to make the other
side parallel. I ripped the boards to their final width on the table saw,
spread some glue, and clamp them up a couple of the boards were not flushed so
after the glue dried I ran them across the jointer to reestablish a flat edge
and sent them through the planer to flush everything up After everything was squared back up I
cut the mortises for the floating tenons and attach the legs. The beam is going to be wrapped with
suede and attached with staples from the underside. To be sure no little
fingers get caught on a wayward staple I am routing out a recess for the staples
to go. Multiple passes with the router left the end of the recess a little
jagged. So I just used the chisel to clean up the ends. I wanted the legs to
fit inside the recess so I used the dado blade at the table saw to cut a shoulder
on the top creating a little tenon. So no one cracks their head open on the sharp
corner of the beam I used a round over bit to ease the edges over. My wife picked out a nice red suede. I
rolled it out and cut it a little wider than I needed so I’d have plenty of
material to work with and I started wrapping the bean. I started in the
middle stapling one side and stretching and stapling the other side. I worked my
way towards the ends. The corners were a little bit difficult but I just kept
working at it. Folding and stapling then cutting off
some of the excess and then folding and stapling some more. I just worked
at it. It took a little while but I finally ended up with a neatly folded
corner. Then I use a little epoxy to glue on the
legs as a final step to conceal the staples. I milled a piece of wood to fit
inside the channel I created earlier and secured it with a few screws. I realize having walnut’ legs on a balance
beam that my daughter will grow out of in no time maybe a little bit
extravagant but that’s one of the great things about being a maker, you can make
extravagant things just for fun Please join me on patreon if you want to
support more extravagant builds

Designing and building walnut legs

8 thoughts on “Designing and building walnut legs

  • July 15, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Love the process of template making and then the actual cutting of the wood 😊thanks Brian.

  • July 15, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Great build and very nice video!

  • July 15, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Now that’s quite a balance beam, really came out beautiful. A lot of great tips to use especially on the router table. Thank you and take care my friend.

  • July 15, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Too many power tools.

  • July 15, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Well done dad!

  • July 16, 2018 at 12:37 am

    Great job Dad!

  • July 16, 2018 at 1:29 am

    (I) know the feeling….Nothing ya can’t do for a daughter! Good Vid!

  • July 17, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    It's such a great treat to watch and hear your process as you tackle a project like this. I honestly wouldn't even know where to begin, but seriously, Brian – you make it look very easy. I hope your daughter enjoys the beam and gets lots of practice time with it! Cheers! 😉


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