Cabriole legs “ears” – Part 2

We finished up yesterday by marking one of two contours on the ear blank.  If you’re lucky enough to have a stationary belt sander, you can rough shape the blank before you glue it in place.  (Yes, yes – I know, this is a blog about traditional woodworking.  We’re using some power tools here.  You’re just going to have to live with it.  If you don’t want to use a sander, simply glue the unshaped blank in place.  You’ll just have to do more “sculpting” with rasps and files.)

Next, insert one of the rails into the leg and scribe a line in the area of the ear.  This is IMPORTANT!!!  The type of ear that we’re using lays alongside  the rail (or apron, if you prefer).  It is NOT glued to the rail.  The ear “floats” as the grain of the rail and that of the ear run perpendicular, and seasonal movement could (very likely) break the ear free.  However, the ear needs to sit on the surface of the rail in order to be adequately supported and protected from any possible impact damage.

Now for the glue-up.  Hold on to your pants…we’re not going to be clamping anything here.  We’re going to use a rub joint.  Most folks think that you need tons of clamping force to create a good glue joint.  Not so with white glues.  As white glue dries it “sucks” the pieces together.  Trust me.

Leave the rail in place.  Put a thin even coat of white glue (we’re using Titebond III) on both surfaces.  Wait til the glue “tacks up” a bit.  Then lightly rub the ear back and forth to insure good contact.  Gently remove the rail and check to see that the ear is in place with the scribe line.  Carefully set the leg aside and allow time and gravity to do their work.

You’ll notice that I’ve laid the opposite ear blank on the leg post.  This is simply to make sure that I remember where I put it.  Let the glue dry completely.  Then repeat the process by gluing the opposite ear into position.

Next week, we’ll continue with the final shaping of the leg and the assembly of the tea table that it was intended for.  If you decide to continue before then, remember to rasp and file in the direction of the leg, not away from it.  While the glue joint is, indeed, very strong, you don’t want to “press you luck” and perhaps damage the ear.  Also, filing towards the leg will allow you to easily pick up the contours that you’re trying to match.

We’ll be back.

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