Splay-leg Table with a Twist - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Splay-leg Table with a Twist

 In November 2014 #214

splaylegTweaking a classic table design adds a contemporary feel and challenges traditional building techniques.

by Tom Calisto
pages 40-45

My aim was to make something fairly simple and classic with contemporary flair. The cuffs and cock bead are borrowed from the Federal period, but I added splayed legs and an angle on the cuffs to introduce more contemporary elements.

At first glance the splayed legs would appear to complicate the construction of the table, but that’s not the case. All of the joinery involves 90° corners – the only time compound angles are introduced is when the legs are cut to length.

The first step in building the table is milling the material for the legs and aprons. On most tables with tapered legs, the starting point for the taper begins around 1⁄4″ below the bottom of the apron. However, because the legs splay outward on this table, I chose to simply taper the entire leg on the two inside faces so that the lines of the table aren’t interrupted.

I used 8/4 stock for the legs so I could effectively cut the legs blanks from rift-sawn wood. Depending on how the grain is flowing in your stock, you may have to cut the material on the diagonal or some angle in between to get true rift-sawn blanks. Having the grain flow in a straight line down each leg is important to the design.

After laying out the leg on the ends of the stock, use a band saw to make the rough cuts. Be sure to leave each leg a little oversize. True up two adjacent faces with a jointer and thickness the blanks to 1-1⁄8″ square.

The legs start out at 1-1⁄8″ and taper on the two inside faces to 3⁄4″ square at the foot. The taper can be cut many different ways; I chose to cut them on the table saw using a simple shop-made tapering jig. By using the table saw and a dedicated jig, I can ensure that the legs will be consistent.

Blog: Read how Robert W. Lang makes tenons for splay-leg tables.
Article: Get a designer’s perspective about what constitutes a successful table design.
Web site: Learn more about Tom Calisto and his work at Windward Woodworks.
Plan: Download a free Sketchup model of the splay-leg table.
To Buy: Learn about Federal tables in “Building a Pembroke Table with Rob Millard.”


From the November 2014 issue, #214


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