A customer came to me with an antique three legged table, the problem was it used to have four legs. During a recent move one of the legs broke off and was lost. The leg was turned, meaning it was round rather than square, and to make matters worse it also had a series of V-grooved beads along the main portion of the leg.
Measurements - I started by taking measurements of one leg; both diameter and where it occurs on the length. Those measurements were used to create a drawing to work from.
Preparing the Blank- Next I glued up a blank that was 3” square and 24” long for the new leg. The next day I cut the corners off of the blank using a table saw, forming a long octagon. The blank was then mounted in my lathe and I transferred the measurements from my drawing to the blank.
Turning the Leg – Using gouges, skews and other turning tools I created the curve of the leg on my blank. When the turning matched my drawing it was time to sand it smooth. The lathe is set at a high speed and very fine sand paper is used to clean up any tool marks.
Groove & Beads – This detail was on a serpentine section of the leg, and required a special jig and a router to cut. The jig followed the curve of the leg and supported the router at a specific height over the leg. The router bit cut the detail, the leg was rotated 20 degrees, and the process repeated eight times.
Assembly – I trimmed the broken leg on the table and then drilled a hole in the center of it. A matching hole was drilled in the new leg and the two halves were joined with a dowel pin and some glue.
Finish – The table had a natural finish but the new leg was much lighter. I stained it to match the rest of the table, and gave the new leg several coats of varnish to protect it.
Many people would think that without the original leg, the table couldn’t be fixed. Before you make that decision about your broken furniture, check with an expert.