Turning the Feet

I enjoy using my lathe, it's one of the few times in woodworking where you clamp a piece of stock into a machine and come out with a nearly finished product on the other side. The only issue is I have never been able to devote enough time to become a truly skilled turner, I'm middle ground at best. Up until recently, my biggest turning success was a maple gavel for a non-profit group's meetings. I was using a cobbled up, Frankenstein monster of a lathe, it was more than a little scary to use.
Apologies for the poor picture quality.
I gave away that lathe a couple years ago, I don't miss it.

I have never been able to successfully pull off a matched set of four turned legs or in this case, feet. For a while I considered altering the feet to be more of an 18th century pedestal foot kind like this.
But I just couldn't do that. It didn't seem to fit. I had to man up and make the turning work. I picked up a couple new turning tools this spring that I had not put to use yet, a big roughing gouge and a parting tool, and they really made the work more enjoyable.
 I selected one of the beefier sections of walnut from the pile.
 And liberated a lengthy section with a crosscut saw.
The joiner, bandsaw, and fore plane turned roughness into a nicely milled blank about 2"x2" x18".
I put on the Darth Vader helm and went to work. I never used to wear a face shield but a while back, on the Frankenstein Lathe (I've gotta get some pictures of it) I was roughing a blank and it let loose. Flying off the lathe and flinging itself across the shop. When I picked up this cheep replacement lathe I also decided I was going to pick up a face shield, just in case. You can also see my ginormous 1 1/2" roughing gouge advancing on the blank.
The big ol' gouge made short work of the blank in the initial rough up. What was always a lot of work in the past was an easy and enjoyable process. I was almost sorry it ended so quick.
Then I used the parting tool and a caliper to pare the blank down to a uniform radius. Is this a necessary step? maybe not with someone with a lot of experience, for me it seemed to make sense.
Then more parting tool work to set the wide radius at either end of the feet. I decided to build in a fudge factor and turn six instead of just four. 
I used the skew chisel to flatten those six areas out and define where I had to work.
A little more work with the parting tool.
A small gouge, a skew chisel, and a fingernail scraper allowed me to rough out the basic sweep of the foot shape.
Then I shaped the knob that would get glued into the frame. This followed with a liberal amount of sanding. I have to say that there is nothing quite like sanding on the lathe. Your hands hold the paper and the lathe does the work. Watching the sawdust swirl around the spindle somehow reminds me of ocean waves.
Well I screwed up one of the six beyond all recognition, but five reasonably close feet is not bad. There is one of these that is not quite like the others. The dude on the right ended up a little tall, so he's out. Whew . . .I just barely made it to four feet. There's a joke in there somewhere.
I used my dowel plate to finish all the dowel ends to a consistent sizing.
I'm actually pretty proud of these little feet. They're not perfect, but they're not far off either.
A few holes placed in the bottom of the frame.
And another dry fit, this time with all the drama of the cut outs in the sides and the feet. Now to mill up and cut the center pieces that do the real work.

Ratione et Passionis


  1. They look great. You can't tell they are not exactly identical when they are in place.

  2. Nice work, I would love to learn to turn wood. I'm still trying to get my square items perfect.

  3. The feet turned out great, Derek! I'm holding off buying a lathe for a few years. I'm afraid of enjoying it too much and using it as an excuse to not creating new designs and building them. Btw, what lathe do you use now? It looks like it could be a Jet.


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