Mark ( on December 23rd, 2007

After a brief trip out of town last weekend, I was finally able to get a bit more time in the shop. I had previously left the legs for the Queen Anne side table in a rough state with the feet turned and ready for some serious shaping work.

Leg_Marked_for_Shaping.JPGYou may recall that I had previously drawn some lines on each face of the legs to help guide me during the shaping work. The first set of lines started at the center of the leg near the ankle and then followed the curves up toward the knee at a consistent offset from the edges. The second set of lines also followed the curves from ankle to knee but, these were spaced about 5/7ths of the way from the edges to the first set of lines. The result, as shown in the picture, was four lines on each face. When viewed across a corner of the leg, the two closest lines to each corner denoted an area to be chamfered and the next set of lines helped to define the outer extents for rounding the corners of the legs.

Chisel_Chamfer_1.JPGChisel_Chamfer_2.JPGThe first step in the shaping was to create a chamfer along each corner between the first set of lines. This chamfer needed to be widest at the ankle and to taper to nothing as it approached the knee of the leg. I started these with a sharp chisel and then Chamfer_Front.JPGChamfer_Back.JPGmoved on to using a coarse rasp. Chamfer_Left.JPGThese initial chamfers were done along each of the four corners of the legs.

Once all of the corners were roughly chamfered, it was time to continue the rough shaping with the rasp. The first area to work was the ankle. The idea was to roughly shape the ankle to a nearly round cross-section. Once the ankles were rough shaped, I continued with the rough shaping moving up the leg toward the knee. Coarse_Shape.JPGThe round Medium_Shape.JPGFine_Shape.JPGShaping_Leg.JPGcross-section at the ankle gradually transitions to a square with rounded corners as you approach the knee. All of this shaping was first done with the coarse rasp, then it was repeated with a fine rasp and then a file – the pictures show this process at the ankle area. For now, the area from the knee up is left unshaped. Those areas will be further shaped later after the knee blocks are attached so that transition will be smooth.

Once the shaping with the rasps and files was completed, I took some time with a card scraper and some sand paper to smooth the shaped areas of the legs (you can see all of the tools that I used for the shaping in the picture). Shaped_Foot_1.JPGOverall, I liked what Shaping_Tools.JPGI had except for the area where the heel transitions into the foot. In the picture you can see the results of my initial efforts. I wanted a less abrupt transition at the heel than I had so, I set things aside for a couple of days and pondered the best approach to altering the legs. Of course, my concern in making any changes was that I have consistent legs when completed but, also to not remove too much material – once it comes off, you can’t put it back on! Revised_Foot_1.JPGRevised_Foot_2.JPGRevised_Foot_3.JPGI did some sketches on paper of what I thought this area should look like and then attempted to mark the legs to reflect my sketch. With rasp in hand it was the moment of truth – I started again with a rough rasp to ease the transition at the heel. Once I started I began to be able to see my way through this process toward then end result and the anxiety lessened. After rasping, filing scraping and sanding I could see the results of my efforts: a much more gradual and pleasing looking transition.

Though the shaping of the legs is not yet completed, the next step in the process will be to cut the mortises into the upper leg posts to accept the aprons. Once the mortising is complete, I will be able to cut down the upper leg posts to their final dimensions and then I can attach and knee blocks and complete the shaping of the legs.

Until then, I’d like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year! As always, if you have any comments or questions, please leave theme here with the comments link at the end of the post, or email me at

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3 Responses to “Queen Anne Side Table: More leg shaping”

  1. Hi Mark:

    I love all the pictures. Have you worked your shape to a finished leg yet….specific to the heel area????

    Looking good………Neil

  2. Hi Neil,

    The feet (heel transitions etc. are pretty close now, I think). There is a bit more shaping work at the tops of the legs to attach and shape the knee blocks – that’s next on tap. Thanks for stopping in and keep watching for more progress!



  1. The Craftsman’s Path » Queen Anne Side Table: Leg mortises, knee blocks and posts

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