Design details.

Okay, I need some ideas. As I was milling the wood for the legs I realized that I had not thought through how I was going to smooth the front and side faces of the legs as they
are not flat but rather flare out in two directions at the bottom.
Also, I was planning on using a molding plane to cut 1/8″ beads along the front edges and the flare interferes with the nose of the plane.  Hmmmmm. I could use some input on this if you have any ideas.

First, the smoothing problem. I decided to make some one-half scale quick prototypes of the legs to get a better feel for the issues involved. I milled them from some douglas fir to the appropriate dimensions. I then layed out locations for the various joints using a marking gauge, marking knife and square. I marked out the final curved shape of the legs on two surfaces and cut them using a bandsaw. After the first cut I taped the waste back onto the leg to act as a support for the second cut.


Okay, I now have two rough legs. The faces with the concave surfaces will be the show surfaces. I clamped two pieces between guide blocks of the proper thickness with the idea I could cross-grain pare the legs to the appropriate thickness. I first used a block plane to remove some of the waste and then used a paring chisel to level the legs to the same height as the gauge blocks.


The curved part was fared into the flat area with a chisel.  For the
final legs I also plan to use a scraper to smooth out the work. That
was my first attempt. I am open to ideas and suggestions for alternate
methods. I would like to do this portion of the project with hand tools
as much as possible.

Second, the beading problem. When designing this chest I wanted to use a bead around the panel areas and around the drawers. There are several ways to do this. One is to use flat openings and then add a secondary bead to the case and/or drawer edges. For this chest,  I wanted to incorporate the beading into the case itself and planned to use a beading plane to add this detail. This works great for the rails and center stile that are flat, and I thought it would work for the legs as as well. However, the double flare on the legs means the nose of the molding plane will raise up when it hits the flared section.


One possible solution is to use a slipped molding plane which features a removable side piece such as on my 1/16″ bead plane.  (and no, I did not drill the hang hole!)


This feature can be a real benefit for certain instances and was originally intended to allow adding a bead right up close to another molding profile. Alas, I do not own a slipped molding plane in a 1/8″ bead, the size I wish to use. My next thought, and current plan,  will be to use a scratch bead. I realize that in this instance a router (electric) would work but I would rather use hand tools. Also, my beading plane has a narrow quirk which would not match a standard router bit very well.  Are there any other hand tool solutions out there?




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  1. Since it is just the end of the bead, why not use the iron from the moulding plane to “scratch” the last inch or so free hand?


  2. I completely agree with everyone above and I would tackle the smoothing with a spokeshave and the bead with a scratch stock. But because there is always another method I thought I would throw in another alternative. Smoothing the curve could still be done with rasps and files. That will leave you with a nice surface but if you want it even smoother hit is with a card scraper. Because you have such a small area to continue the bead, perhaps a small V gouge to create the quirk then a 9 sweep bent back gouge used flute down to shape the curve.

    The first method makes the most sense because the tools are more utilitarian but who doesn’t like another option?

  3. Kevin F. Van Benten

    Dave, as you probably know, a scratch stock can pretty readily be fashioned to handle the beading challenge. The blade can be filed to the exact shape you need including the quirk portion. It is a simple and elegant hand tool solution. The converging curves can be done with the right shaped scraper if I am visualizing the situation correctly. By the way, the ‘iron’ for the scratch stock can be filed from annealed metal and does not have to be re-hardened before using although it can be if you want it to stay good longer. It occurs to me, as a premier tool maker, you already know all this and so much more! Thanks for including us in your special project!


  4. Why don’t you make your own scratch stock to the same configuration as the beading plane? You aren’t limited to what you have on hand!
    Nice project!

  5. David Jeske

    The portion of the leg that I need to add the bead is perfectly flat. The flared portion comes after the bead but this is what interferes with the nose of the molding plane. I have an old Kansas City Toolworks beading tool that will work or I may make a fenced version since it is a straight cut.  I do not have a curved bed spokeshave yet but I think I “need” a matching L-N Boggs shave for my flat soled shave. Maybe the combination of the two is what would work work well for the smooth part of the leg.

  6. Doug

    As I read the post, I was thinking scratch stock for the bead. I really like a cut bead, but for something like that, scratching it may be the easiest way as you mentioned at the end of your post. Do you have a curved bed spokeshave? I don’t know how tight a radius I can get into, but a curved sole shave could help with the smoothing chores.

    Thanks for posting


  7. Richard Cheek

    Use a scratch stock to make the bead. It will follow any curve…..rcc


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