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Cutting Cabriolet Legs On A Bandsaw

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From: Woodcraft

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Few forms are more synonymous with fine furniture than the graceful cyma curve of the cabriole leg. While these curvilinear legs are most commonly associated with the furniture styles of the 18th century (namely Queen Anne, Chippendale, and some assorted French ones that I can never keep straight), they have also seen use in some more recent genres, such as Art Nouveau. Regardless of what period you are trying to reproduce, all cabriole legs start out with a series of band saw cuts.

This article is excerpted from Cutting-Edge Band Saw Tips & Tricks.

Trace the template on an adjacent side of the leg. Be sure the two layouts come together along the inside corner of the post as shown.

Tape the cutoffs from the first cuts back in place. These will serve as support for the leg as you make the second series of cuts. Should the cut off start to loosen as you cut through the tape, don’t hesitate to add more tape to hold everything in place.

This article is excerpted from Cutting-Edge Band Saw Tips & Tricks.

Clamping A Clamp
Holding on to a cabriole leg as you shape it can be awkward at best. The method I like is to grip the leg with a pipe clamp. Then I can grab the clamp in the front vise on my bench. The toughest part about this setup is remembering to loosen the clamp, not the vise, when I need to reposition the leg.

When you finish cutting, peel the scraps away to reveal the leg. Hold the leg securely and begin to round over the hard edges. The real secret to making a good-looking leg is in making the transition from square at the base of the post to completely round at the ankle. Spokeshaves, scrapers and files are all fair game when it comes to refining the shape of your leg.

Different styles of cabriole legs are often distinguished by the foot at the bottom, If you have a lathe, you can turn this part of the leg (center). Some of the higher-styled legs involved elaborate carvings such as this ball-and-claw foot (left). For a simpler appearance, you can shape the feet directly with your hand tools (right).