Making the Legs and Feet
The feet, cleats and legs (pieces 1 through 3) of the table form a shapely support for the table top. In addition, they are made with a couple of nice pieces of joinery which are attractive, fun and practical. I recommend beginning by making the legs.
I cut them to width and length, marked out the mortise location and then stepped over to the table saw to raise the tenons on the ends of each leg. (Note: if you choose to use wenge as I did, I found it important to use a white pencil to do my markup; the wood was too dark for a regular pencil line to be seen.)
Because the tenon on the foot end of the leg was so long (4-1⁄4″), I couldn’t slice it with a traditional tenoning jig, so I nibbled away the waste. (I would have used a dado head in my saw, but I discovered that my new table saw will not accept my old dado cutters! Even woodworking editors are forced into workarounds …) With the tenons formed, I then chopped out the through mortises with my mortising machine. You can also cut the cleats to length and width and use the mortising machine to form those mortises as long as you have the mortising machine set up. If you don’t have a dedicated mortiser, use a Forstner bit and a chisel to chop them. With those tasks behind me, I moved on to the feet.
Start that process by cutting blanks for the feet that are 5″ wide and 10-7⁄8″ long. Next, cut the blanks to match the geometric pattern shown in the Drawings. You will machine these pieces while they are in this shape, forming open mortises that capture the long tenon on the end of the legs.
This happens when all three pieces are glued together. I used a modified tenoning jig on the table saw to cut those open mortises. The jig’s fence leaned back at 45° so I could plow the opening in each foot.
I tested the fit of the open mortise on the tenons as I went. Then I stepped to the band saw and cut a couple of square notches on the foot pieces that would help me clamp them together more easily. Staying at the band saw, I cut the curves onto the edges of the legs, the last step before gluing the feet and legs together. Glue-up not only required clamping across the face of the legs, but I squeezed the open mortise walls together, using wax paper to keep the glue block and the bench from getting stuck to the glue-up.
After the glue had cured, it was time to mark out the final leg shape on the subassemblies and cut them out on the band saw. I took the time to make accurately shaped templates from scrap 1/8″ plywood of the foot shape. I did this for all of the shaped parts. It takes just a few minutes, but it provides an added level of control and makes the rest of the process go much more smoothly.
While the cleats are still in a rectangular shape, take a few moments to bore the holes for the screws that will secure the table top to the cleats. Following that, I cut the profiles onto the lower edges of the cleats.
Once the legs, feet and cleats were cut to shape, I took them over to my spindle sander and sanded the edges up to the marked out lines. With that done, I glued and clamped the cleats to the top of the legs and allowed the glue to cure. At that point, I set them aside and moved on to the last couple of components.