By Lonnie Bird

During the 18th century tea drinking became a popular custom in America, and craftsmen fashioned special tea tables for their wealthy patrons. The wide variety of surviving tea tables is evidence of the remarkable ingenuity of artisans of the period. Some tables are round, others square, and many of them have drop leaves or tilting tops. This diversity reflects differences in tastes as well as cultural and ethnic variations between colonies.

Tip-and-turn tables like the one featured here were highly favored in and around Philadelphia. This one is a reproduction of a Queen Anne table built in Philadelphia from 17-40-90. The unique birdcage support under the top enables the top to both rotate when in use and tilt up for storage or display a wall, of its nioder-thc table is easy move, making it suitable for a variety of purposes.

This is basically a turning project. The pedestal, birdcage spindles and retaining washer all must be turned on the lathe. (See Pig. 1 and 2.) You also can turn the top. but I've offered an alternate router-based method which will give you the same results. (See sidebar, page 27.)

I made the table out of walnut—the same wood as the original. Other Queen Anne tea tables were made of mahogany or tiger maple.

Turning the Pedestal

Turn the pedestal first. (See Pig. 1.) If possible, turn the pedestal from solid stock rather than gluing up a blank. If you use a laminated blank, don't laminate more than two pieces or you'll end up with unsightly curved and elliptical glue lines on the finished piece.

Queen Ann Leg Lathe

HiMiittmoi uro ITS

HiMiittmoi uro ITS

^ This |M»ncil ji^ makes ¡1 rxi*v to mark llir m ceiitcrliiies of each leg joint 011 the* pedestal base.

^ This |M»ncil ji^ makes ¡1 rxi*v to mark llir m ceiitcrliiies of each leg joint 011 the* pedestal base.

Clusel flats wIhti1 tin* U'liH attarli to I li «-pedestal so joints uill meet flush.

Clusel flats wIhti1 tin* U'liH attarli to I li «-pedestal so joints uill meet flush.

To carve the pad foot, first outline the height with a marking gauge and then deepen the gauge line with a "V" porting tool.

There arc a few key points you should keep in mind while turning the pedestal. The post at the top of the pedestal must fit the holes in the birdcage to allow the top to turn. (See Fig. 1 and 2.) Rather than using calipers, size the post to fit in a 1 '/»-in. dia. hole bored into scrap stock. The scrap should turn smoothly around the post without stop.

Also, make sure to keep the shoulder that supports the birdcage fiat and square. When you're finished turning.

sand and finish the pedestal on the lathe. Then leave it on the lathe until you've completed the joinery.

Making the legs

The legs on antique tea tables are joined to the pedestal with sliding dovetails. This joint has resulted in cracked pedestals on many old tables. For this reason, I chose to use a mor-tise-and-tenon joint instead. Tliis allows twice as much face grain surface area for a strong glue joint.

Gluing And Clamping Table Legs
To secure leg while glue dries, author places leg in vise, then applies pressure by clamping the [Mtl^lul to the Imttom of the vise.

No matter which joint you use. 1 recommend that you secure the joint with a Viirin. thick sheet metal "spider-screwed to the bottom of the pedestal. (See Fig. 1.) Many early cabinetmakers used this method.

To locate your joints, mark the cen-terlines on the pedestal base. I've found that the legs look best if you place one of them directly below the concentric annual rings on the vase-shaped section of the pedestal. (See photo, left.) Transfer the centerlines up the 4-in. long cylinder at the base of the pedestal. I've made a simple jig that will make this task quick and accurate. (See photo, left.)

In order for the legs to meet flush against the pedestal, you'll need to either cope the legs at the shoulder of the joint to match the curvature of the pedestal or flatten the pedestal where the legs will attach. The latter operation is an easier way to achieve a perfect fit. Earlv cabinetmakers used both *

methods. Whichever approach you choose, make sure to cut the shoulders of each leg joint before bandsawing the legs to shape. This way you'll have a straight edge to register against the machinery. Then bandsaw the side-view profile of the legs and complete the joints. (For more on sliding dovetails, sec aw *llf November/December 1989; and aw *27.)

Next, shape the front-view profile of the legs. Note in Fig. 1 that the legs are 2 in. thick at the pedestal and taper down to 1' « in. at the ankle before flaring back out to their full 2 in. tliickness again at the foot. First you should draw a centerline down each leg blank to serve as a guide during shaping. Next, bandsaw the taper. After sawing the legs to shape, round each leg with rasps and files. Be careful not to remove the centerline or the legs won't be symmetrical.

When you're satisfied with the leg profile, carve the pad foot. Outline the height first with a marking gauge and then deepen the gauge line with a "V" parting tool. Then round over the edges with gouges. Finally, scrape and sand the legs.

After test-fitting the legs in the pedestal, glue them in one at a time. The clamping arrangement I used is shown in the photo at left.

Drill %-in. deep blind holes for spindles and pedestal post.

Round upper edge so top can tilt up.

catch keeper cleat


Cut Win. wide x / Mnn. deep notches for wedge.


Va im. thick

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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  • gilly
    How to construct design large pedestal legs?
    8 years ago

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