Cabriole leg project – finishing the leg and foot
Whew! Got a few of those pesky little Christmas projects out of the way, so we can talk a little more about how to finish these Cabriole legs. (BTW, apparently the word cabriole comes from the French root word that describes how young animals, i.e.Bambi “caper” about. So, in short, these legs are supposed to give the impression of young, cloven hoofed critters, playing around and having fun. Hey, this is one of those tidbits of knowledge that you just don’t hear all of the time. Take it for what it’s worth.)
You can turn the foot/pad first or you can shape the leg first. You decide. But we’re going to do a little shaping before we hit the lathe.
After bandsawing, eliminate any high spots and make the long leg surfaces smooth and even. You can do this with a spokeshave or a block plane.
Freehand some guidelines on all four sides of the leg. These will help you shape the legs with a reasonable degree of uniformity.
If you’re using a rasp (or a spokeshave, for that matter), it’s a good idea to skew the tool. This provides a longer supporting surface for the cut.
Okay, now we’re off to the lathe. A couple of considerations about mounting the leg. First, stay away from Steb centers. Use a drive spur and a cup/point on the tailstock side. Avoid excessive pressure and sharply tapered live centers that can split the stock. The goal is to have enough pressure to keep the leg turning, but not so much that the leg will deform at the ankle area. Pick a speed that you’re comfortable with and begin turning the foot section round. DON’T MOVE THE TOOL REST WHILE THE LEG IS ROTATING!!! Trust me on this, you’ll almost surely hit the leg while it’s turning. Stop the lathe and adjust the rest. You’ve got the time – take it.
Well, due to blog constraints, we’ll have to finish this part tomorrow. Should I upgrade or not? Do I really have that much to say? Nah. Come back tomorrow.