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 18th Century Dressing Table 

18th Century Dressing Table - page twwo

Building A 18th Century Dressing Table - page two 

 Getting started on the project consisted of making a mock up, to verify all the sizes would work within the space, allow comfortable use, and have proper proportions, consistent with 18th century furniture.

Once that was done we purchased all the lumber, and got busy with the leg construction. The wood used for the leg blanks was cut from 16/4" mahogany. It was ripped into 4 inch square blanks. Once these were surfaced, they were marked out using a template, made from 1/4 inch M.D.F.


The first step after laying out the leg blanks is to rough cut them on the band saw. It's important not to complete the cuts entirely, as the pieces left act as a bridge to support the pieces. (see photo 5). Saving the cut off pieces, and taping them back into place is also necessary, as the layout lines are on it.

  Mock up  Project lumber  Marking out the legs  Blanks layed out 

A video, done by Phillip Lowe, on carving a ball and claw foot is very informative, and highly suggested. I believe it is produced by Taunton Press. While it is still a daunting task, it is shown in great detail, and will help you gain the confidence to do it. The video discusses laying out the legs, making a template, and actually carving them.

  Band sawing the leg   Roughing out the ball  shaping the talons  Shaping the foot  Mortising the legs

The first step in the carving process is shaping the ball. With the layout lines marked on the blanks, this is pretty straight forward. Once the ball is formed, the talons are carved. Notice in the third photo above, the plywood jig used to hold the bessey clamp. This is just a couple pieces of plywood, with a spacer, the same thickness as the bar of the clamp, screwed together. The spacer is flush with the top of the plywood. Once the clamp is inserted, the jig is placed in the bench vice and squeezes the bar. The wood block laying on the top of the plywood has a V cut into it to help hold the leg from turning. This jig really helped in holding the leg blank in just about any position you want.

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