Saturday, May 2, 2009

Nice Legs...

I am a bit behind on my updates! Finally here are some images of my legs, or my cabinet's legs rather.
I tried taking more photos but I just didn't find that I could photograph them very well. There are a number of things going on with these legs but are mostly subtle-ish over long runs so it's difficult to pick up with the camera. When they are on the cabinet they will make more sense.
As I have mentioned and you may have seen already I've opted for a five-sided leg. I liked the idea of a variation from the four sided leg and felt that legs faced on "45 degree" angles to the corns would flow well with the curves of the piece. What I've found is that these legs would have been easier if straight. Introducing a curve adds challenges in dealing with the 45 degree back portion which is really just a technical issue... however if you have to keep the back portion straight, lets say for joinery down the legs length, it get more aesthetically tricky.
For me it's difficult to explain why... On a four-sided leg with 2 sides curved on the outside corners you see a evenly curved profile standing looking at the middle of the piece (if both sides have the same shape), When looking at the leg from a 45 degree front angle, once again you see even curved profiles. The five-sided leg standing from the middle of the piece you see a similar view to the four-sided leg - curve on the outside profile and straight on the back however the leg will look wider due to the corner in back instead of a 90 degree cut, from a 45 degree angle you see no curve profile, just a straight leg. SOOOO the curve on the one side has nothing to do with the profile looking straight on to the leg. What often happens is that the leg starts to look quite skinny at the pinch of the leg from the side yet too fat straight on.
To combat that problem I put in a shaped pinch along the sides on the legs too. This makes the leading edges of the straight view of the leg come closer together then widen out again. It makes it takes a lot of the visual weight out of the leg and it's neat to do, not to mention adding depth to the leg as a whole. The pinch(es) of the leg is/are about where the stretchers meet the legs.

As I mentions there is a fair amount going on just in the legs. I really like shaping legs but am usually disappointed at how quick that step is done... maybe a day or so. These took me FOUR full days!!! The pinches on the faces brought up above which are all carfully spread over the whole length of the leg, these are all pillowed to varing degrees coming and going with the pinch. The backs! Oh I think that was my favorite part! The photo above shows the run on the back corner. If you think that is looks a bit curved, it is! it's not lense distortion. From about the bottom of the stretcher to the bottom of the leg the back corner comes in only a little over an 1/8". Progressive pillowing down the run makes it a little more obvious. I got a grin out of that. The transition between the flat for joinery and this subtle curve is silky smooth if I say so myself and doesn't even cross the mind when looking at it ;)
Except for the end grain all sides of the legs and edges were finished with my growing collection of spokeshaves. What a quite joy it was to do, to hear the soft whisper of the tools, and is to feel minute facets left by the clean shear of a sharp blade.

Top treatment. I had a couple different ideas for the top but went with a pretty "simple" one. I cut the top at a bit of an angle higher on the outside of the cabinet and gave it a good pillowing. The angle lifts the cabinet at otherwise flat corners and the pillowing is absorbed in the softness of the whole piece. These were done with successive files then on to sand paper strating at 400 all the way up to 1000 with a final polish before finish with #0000 steel wool.

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