How to Make Carved Coffee Table Legs

What You'll Need
Safety glasses

If you are making your own coffee table, then you should think about carving the coffee table legs. Table and chair legs have traditionally been carved into interesting shapes, and they can make an interesting feature out of what would be a plain and ordinary pair of table supports. If you are interested in carving your coffee table legs, then you can find inspiration everywhere, from classical shapes to modern design. Carving out table legs by hand is a complicated process, but the end result is worth it. Follow the steps below for a successful and rewarding project.

Step 1 - Choose a Design

When you are thinking about carving your coffee table legs, you should start by looking in local shops and examining the shape of the furniture. Look on sites about old wooden furniture, noting popular patterns and shapes as well as unique ones. You should be able to find a few patterns that suit your needs. From this, work up a paper pattern which shows you the design from different angles. This will be your guide as you begin to carve the coffee table legs, so keep it with you while you are working on the wood.

Step 2 - Prepare Your Wood

Before you can begin to carve your wood, you will need to prepare it. First, ensure that you have a thick enough piece of wood to take the carving that you would like, and sand it down until there are no marks or grain flaws that could damage the design. Follow the line of the grain to ensure that you smooth out knots, bark and uneven wood from the legs. Cut it to the size that you want from your table, and then mark with a pencil where you want to make the carving.

Step 3  - Use Your Tools

Start by working with the spokeshave to smooth down the leg into the shape that you want. Traditional legs tend to have a curving feature where most of the lower leg is removed, but the upper leg balloons out. Roughly make all of the carvings that you want using the spokeshave, and then trim out the features using the gauge. You should then file all the wood until it is suitably smooth.

Step 4 - Finish the Leg

Once your leg has been smoothed down, you should begin to varnish it. Spread a suitable varnish over the wood using a paintbrush. You may need to make several layers of varnish before the wood is finished. It is best to do this in a ventilated room, and keep the leg there to dry for at least 24 hours before you attach it to the coffee table.