Turned legs

Round legs are more easily formed in the lathe, but if none is available they can be worked by hand. The block is first planed up to octagonal shape and the arrises so formed planed with a smoothing-plane, creating further arrises which are then taken out with hollow moulding-plane, cooper's Spokeshave or curved scraper. The secret of quick and accurate work—and it is only necessary to watch a skilled joiner knocking up heavy oak cylinders with a draw shave to appreciate how quickly it can be done—is to construct a suitable cradle to hold the wood firmly while it is being shaped, and to take the cuts through from end to end every time, working the leg as a whole and not in sections. This applies equally to round taper legs which are planed square taper and then rounded. Church staves, shafts and poles usually have to be done by hand as they are too long or too whippy in the length for the average lathe, and it is always better to prepare a female template of the rounding rather than trust the eye alone. If the section varies throughout the length, i.e. the taper is a gradual swell, several templates may be necessary, and are simply prepared by arbitrarily fixing several distances along the length and boring holes of the appropriate diameters in a block of hardwood (207:1), which is offered to the work as the rounding proceeds and swivelled round to

create a telltale shine on the high spots. If the shaft or leg is oval in section then the templates can be cut out of thick cardboard (207:3), and if the shape of the wood does not permit the template being slid along from one end, then it can be hinged with a paper-fastener as in 208. Adjustable templates can be purchased, composed of thin brass strips free to slide between two rubber-cushioned locking bars (207:2). While this is an admirable tool for many purposes, i.e. complex mouldings, etc., it is usually better to use a totally enclosed template for all-round shaping.

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