Ogee Bracket Feet: A Third Option - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Ogee Bracket Feet: A Third Option

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As a presenter at woodworking schools, I enjoy teaching the methods I use when woodworking. For a recent class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, the subject was bracket feet, ogee bracket feet, and legs: cabriole and tapered. As the class begins, I ask attendees to ask questions because they are there to learn. While I’m there to instruct, one thing that almost always happens is that I pick up a trick or learn something from those who attend the classes. This class was no different.

The class was moving along on schedule when I launched into my spiel on two methods to produce ogee bracket feet. I explained how to cove and shape the feet using a table saw , a method I used from the beginning due to my restricted band saw opening (a 14″ band saw without an extension has a 6″ capacity under the guide and wheel). I mentioned that after the feet are formed on the saw, spur holes drilled, profiled using a band saw then mitered, it was a bit more difficult to glue the pieces together due to the irregular shape (I often use duct tape as my clamps). However, if you assemble the two mitered blocks wherein the parts are easily glued and clamped, and you had a large enough clearance at your band saw to position the assembled pair on a stand, you can saw the profile very easily and the majority of the work is complete (The above setup is for demonstration only. The band saw blade is too wide to cut the needed profile). These are the two ways that I’ve made all the ogee feet I’ve used while woodworking.

A hand shot up to ask a question. “Why couldn’t you assemble the feet while square then create the profile at the table saw?” I stood there silently, trying to quickly work through the process to figure out why that could not be done. Nothing. I could not come up with a reason why that wouldn’t work. After a bit more conversation , which is a good thing in a class of woodworkers , we decided it could be done.

In a nutshell, here’s a third method to make ogee bracket feet: Cut your blanks to size and lay out the profile on the interior of each foot, drill out the holes that begin to form the spur (we decided that if you drill after you profile the face, you’re more apt to splinter the face as the bit plunges through the stock), miter the ends of the blanks remembering to keep the layout lines on the inside faces, cut for splines then assemble the feet into pairs as you install a spline. As you can see from the photo, the clamping process is much easier when assembling squared ends.

After the glue is dry, set up a fence as you would to create coves at the table saw (watch a video here). Raise the blade incrementally until you’ve reached the full height of your cove. Return to a band saw to complete the profile work then sand the ogee bracket feet before you attach them to your case.

Once again, I learned as I taught. This is what is great about woodworking. The more you know, the more you understand that there is plenty more to learn. No one method is correct, so keep your mind open and you may find a method of work that makes your woodworking better.

-Glen D. Huey

Other Resources on Traditional Furniture that We Recommend

– The Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) (sapfm.org)

“Building 18th Century American Furniture” (Popular Woodworking) by Glen D. Huey.

“Making a Small Cove Moulding” video on the popularwoodworking.com web site.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Rob Young

    I should have said "tall fence" and not "second fence". Gives more bearing surface to run against during the cove. Not unlike adding a tall fence to a router table for trimming operations or a tablesaw for panel raising. That should help minimize the chance of the piece kicking out as it goes over the blade.

  • Glen

    All good points, Rob. I spline all my ogee bracket feet, but you are correct in that you should not attempt this process with a simple mitered butt joint. I would not expect glue alone to be strong enough to hold your joint as you cut.

    I’m not sure how a second fence would help. It’s my opinion that a second fence causes more problems such as trapping the wood or a bad cove cut due to the pieces sliding from fence to fence during the cut. Feet shorter than 6" could be cut using a band saw, so I would expect that feet produced in this manner would be longer than that, but it couldn’t hurt to increase the length of the blanks.

    As to the cuts completed at a band saw, one profile cuts without interference of the saw and one does not – until the opposing foot is cut. As a result, there is a specific order to the cuts. Also, if the width across the lower portion of the foot is narrow, you could run into problems with the workpiece bumping the machine.

  • Rob Young

    I can see there might be two issues with the miter-then-cove method on the table saw. However both could be addressed.

    1) Strength of the miter joint. In your example, it is splined. Pretty much problem solved. But if it was just a simple miter with the intention of adding blocking to the backside, it might not survive the rigors of tablesaw cove cutting.

    2) Tablesaw cove cutting a short piece such as the leg blank seems like it could be mistake/accident prone. Making the blanks extra long or adding a second fence might be a good idea, especially if the person isn’t already comfortable with cutting the coves in the first place.

    And one last thought, are you still using the bandsaw to get the convex curve so that means the tall clearance is still required, right? Or did you use a router/shaper for the operation?

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