Staked Side Table-Part 5

Now that I have the shaving horse built and a little practice with the drawknife under my belt, legs were next up on the agenda.

The stock for the legs is red oak. Since I have yet to find a local source for stock of this thickness, I mail ordered this material.  Sold as turning squares, these are 1-1/2″ square surfaced on two faces.  The remaining rough faces are “fat” enough that when the blank is planed on all four sides, you will easily end up with the advertised 1-1/2″ square.  Anyway, I need eight legs, so I ordered ten blanks.  Ordering online is always a grab bag as to what you will get and there is always a good chance I’ll screw one up.  So ten went into the shopping cart.

With blanks in hand, I cut eight of them to length.  If I were anal, I would have planed all of them dead square.  I just didn’t see the need to do so in this particular application.  Using one face for a consistent reference, I marked a center on each end and laid out both the octagon and the taper.  This pushed all of the excess to one side of the blank and it will be easy to peel off with the drawknife.  At least in theory…time to put theory to practice.

The humidity was thru the roof today and the garage shop was muggy.  Since the shaving horse is portable, I thought working outside under the trees may be a good option.  Of course it started to rain as soon as I opened the garage door.  The good news is there is a fairly good overhang above the garage door so I ventured out as far as could without getting wet.


I can’t say if using a drawknife for this operation is a whole lot faster, but it is way more fun and almost effortless.  I should have taken the plunge with the drawknife and shaving horse ages ago.  I did learn three things today while working these legs.  One being that if you are pulling hard you are doing it wrong.  Even in this dry wood, the drawknife peeled wood effortlessly.  The second thing I learned was to pull the drawknife on a skew while using the entire length of the blade.  The added benefit is that all of the peels end up in a pile on one side of the horse.  Lastly, I learned that I need to find a cushion to use when sitting on the horse for extended periods of time.  That wood plank is tough on the back of my front!


With the legs roughed to shape, a few passes with the plane finished them off.


Next up was to add the tenons to the ends of the legs.  Using a gauge with a pencil installed, I marked the length of the tenon area on all eight legs.  Then I reset my compass to strike a circle slightly large than the small end of the taper.  I’m using the Veritas tapered tenon cutter for this operation and it tapers from 1-1/16″ down to 5/8″.  With all the layout in place, I headed back to the shaving horse.

This is essentially a “by-eye” operation and I went slow on the first tenon to get a feel for how much material I could remove with the drawknife before going too far.  The process was to remove as much material with the drawknife as I dare and then go into the tapered tenon cutter.  When the tenon cutter bottomed out, I trimmed the high spots and went back into the tenon cutter.  Lather, rinse, repeat until the full length of the tenon was shaped by the tenon cutter.  After the first few, I found that I could get really close straight from the drawknife.


I managed to get all of the legs shaped and all of the tenons are cut.  So these legs are ready to go.


Now I need to clean up my mess so I can close the garage door.


Part 4 Greg Merritt Part 6

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10 Responses to Staked Side Table-Part 5

  1. Brian Eve says:

    You make it look easy.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      I don’t know about easy…but I did find the drawknife too be quite intuitive. I grew up with a knife in my pocket and have been whittling wood for as long as I can remember, so I’m pretty attuned to the signs of changes in grain direction. Using a drawknife is just large scale whittling.

  2. Coisas EM'adeira says:

    You’ll end up with a table in no time!!!!

    • Greg Merritt says:

      It won’t be long now. Management is starting to get impatient, so the pressure is on to get these table finished and installed into the house. Consequences can be quite severe when management is not happy. 😉

  3. Kinderhook88 says:

    It’s fun to see you falling in love with the drawknife. I’ve had a couple opportunities to use one and I think I could possibly turn into a chair maker if I ever get one of my own.

  4. Pingback: Staked Side Table-Part 6 | HILLBILLY DAIKU

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