Turned Legs for the Lathe-less

Spice-ChestWhenever we include a project that has turned legs, bun feet or some other turned component, we inevitably get calls and e-mails from readers who don’t have a lathe or don’t have a friend who has a lathe, but want to build the piece as printed.

There are a number of sources online where you can buy stock legs and feet, and order custom turnings, in a variety of species.

Here are just a few of them that offer both stock turned pieces and custom work (and if you’ve used and can recommend other sources, please leave that info in the comments below).

tablelegs.com, in St. Johnsbury, Vt. (800-748-3480)

Adams Wood Products, in Morristown, Tenn. (423-587-2942)

Osborne Wood Products, in Toccoa, Ga. (706-886-1065)

Note that legs can also be “turned” by hand – a combination of chisels, rasps and saws. You’ll find step-by-step instruction on the process on his Woodworker’s Edge DVD “The Cabriole Leg.” You can also turn small legs on a drill press with some savvy, setup and shop-made jigs. We’ve not written an article on that, nor do I know of any videos on the subject, but you can find demos online.

 — Megan Fitzpatrick

p.s. The spice chest pictured above is by Zachary Dillinger, from our August 2013 issue.

6 thoughts on “Turned Legs for the Lathe-less

  1. scottg

    Most work can be done on a totally unimpressive lathe. People get insecure and think it has to so some multi-thousand dollar thing just to work. But you only need those occasionally.
    I have the crappiest lathe you ever saw. NOBODY is jealous of my lathe. And yet I have done just what I wanted with it for years and years.

    Cast in place, inlaid pewter anyone?
    http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/scott/ringthing.jpg.
    http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/scott/screwdriver1.jpg
    yours Scott

  2. zdillingerzdillinger

    I built my lathe, the very one that turned the legs in that photo. Mine is inspired by the lathe Roy Underhill featured in The Woodwright’s Guide.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Always an option –– though I’ll note that the most recent asker of said question lives in Manhattan…it’s unlikely he’d have room for pole lathe. Heck – the fact that he has a shop space at all is impressive!

      1. Brentpmed

        Space being an issue, the German springpole lathe featured in St. Roy’s books can be disassembled easily for storage and probably takes up less space than any other lathe except maybe a bench top midi. Quite fun to build and use as well! I am going to have to become ambidextrous with my feet tho, the right calf is bigger than the left now.

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