Table Construction

with custom turned legs



First let me say that there are of course many, many different ways to build a table. Each craftsman will more then likely have his own unique style of construction. This style may evolve from what priorities the craftsman may have, what materials are at his disposal and what materials  and tools he may prefer to work with. In a lot of  cases cost will decide how and with what a table is constructed.

The following is an example of how I prefer to build a table.


First we start with the legs. There are variety of different kinds of legs in Early American tables. I am only able to make tapered, turned or square legs but I can order about any style a customer could want. The table I am using as an example on this page will have turned legs in the Irish Immigrant Style.

Step #1

With a 1.5" thick top, these legs will need to be 5.5" X 5.5" sq. X  28.5" high - for a table that will be 30" when finished.

I will be building these legs out of Yellow Pine and have laminated, cut to size, squared up and mounted to the lathe. I have mark out where the apron will attach to the table. This section at the top of the leg will need to remain square to accept  the apron.


Step # 2


Now, I will start turning the basis cylinder. Unfortunately I can not turn the leg and take pictures at the same time so I can't really demonstrate how this is done. But by resting the chisel on the tool rest with the "block" turning at about 1500 rpm, I will start to remove the stock until it becomes round rather then square.


Step #3


Now that I have my cylinder turned I will need to lay out where I will want my turnings to be. You can see slight pencil rings around the cylinder where my turning should be.


Step #4


I will now start to remove the stock round these areas using a variety of chisels and checking the depth with calipers. I do not use a duplicator so the first one I turn will be the pattern for the other 3. 

Although these legs will be extremely similar they will not all be perfectly the same as they were all hand turned. Most antique tables you will find to have the same "uniqueness" and since the eyes wants things to always be consistent, you will never notice it  unless you really look hard.


Step # 5


Now the leg is rough turned and ready for sanding.


Step # 6


After the leg is thoroughly sanded and all the chisel marks are removed the leg is finished and ready for the next step.


Step # 7

The next step is one of the more uncommon ones. I have always built my tables using mortise and tenon joints. It is a very sturdy strong  joint that has been used for centuries but is rarely used today in table construction. Almost all antique tables will be joined using this very basic technique.


Next the base is assembled by slipping the glued tenons of the apron into the mortises' in the legs and clamping them.






This Page is still under construction - please check back later



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