Contemporary Cabriole Legs
by Jeff Miller
Early on in my career, I built a number of tables with different types of cabriole legs. These ranged from period-inspired pieces to designs a little farther afield. But as I began creating my own designs, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with what cabriole legs offered. I liked much about the legs – the organic character and the refined subtlety of the curves – but I wanted design elements that didn’t have all of the obvious historical connotations of the cabriole. In other words, I was looking to create a modern translation of some of the ideas behind the cabriole leg.
I had seen plenty of modern interpretations, but none of them really captured what I was looking for. I realized that this was because there was often an element of the design that was missing: the connection between the aprons and the legs. On a traditional leg, these are typically in the form of knee blocks. They are important to integrating the apron and the leg, and I wanted to incorporate a version of this into my legs.
It took a few iterations to come up with something that I really liked. I finally settled on a simple leg that grows very naturally out of the apron. Part of the way that works is that the aprons have two facets; the upper one is more or less contiguous with the top of the leg. On the lower, visually recessed facet, filler pieces (a form of knee block) create the transition of the leg up to the upper part of the apron.
Video: Learn how to make a traditional cabriole leg.
Article: Read about Jeff Miller in this article from our February 2012 issue, and see a slide show of his work.
In our store: Get Jeff Miller’s book, “Foundations of Better Woodworking,” and his video of the same title, at ShopWoodworking.com.
Blog: Read Jeff Miller’s blog.
Free SketchUp Model: Download a 3D model of a table that features these legs.