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Joining tripod legs to candlestand

SteveSchoene's picture

I'm dovetailing in the legs on a walnut candle stand I'm making. I decided to flatten the cylinder on the pedestal on this one. I'm now realizing that there are lots of subtle tilts that can complicate the fitting to get both sides to fit snuggly against the column. I made a larger tea table some years ago and fussed with the undercutting of the shoulders on the legs to fit with the pedestal. (But you can really just carve away as long as you don't touch the edge of the shoulder.)

Any tips for the next two legs. (I know--really get the lay out right)

Anybody seen period pieces that just use a M&T joint to attach the legs, and if so did any survive to the 20th century. (That's a whine.)

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

Pippins's picture

Steve,I have not seen period (post #146101, reply #1 of 24)

Steve,I have not seen period pieces but wanted to pass on what I had seen in a recent FWW article. The author was building a candle stand using M&T instead of the traditional dovetails. The author made an argument for using the M&T but I do not recall the specifics now. You may want to take a look at the article. It seems that it was in the magazine within the past couple of years.

Steve Pippins

Jfrostjr's picture

Steve, It is not clear from (post #146101, reply #2 of 24)

Steve,

It is not clear from your post what method you used to create the dovetail. I have made three of these beauties and I understand the difficulty you describe.

I made a fixture to to support the router above the lathe bed and to control its movement. I found that the centerline of the fixture must align exactly with the centerline of the leg - and I found that "exact" is VERY difficult to accomplish.

As I cannot post pictures here, I have created a new Topic titled Candle Stand Disaster. You might enjoy it.

joinerswork's picture

Steve, I've dovetailed tripod (post #146101, reply #3 of 24)

Steve,
I've dovetailed tripod legs both ways (undercuutting the shoulder to match the shaft, and flattening the shaft to match the leg shoulders). I think it's easier to work a flat on the shaft. It's easier to come at the shaft, than to carve down into that acute angled undercut.
I carefully lay out the centerlines of the legs on the end of the shaft, and draw a line perpendicular to that, describing the width of the flat (the thickness of the leg) onto the end of the shaft. Then square parallel lines down (where the flat will end, or intersect the round portions between the legs). Then I crosscut with my dovetail saw a series of kerfs about 1/2" apart across where the flat will be. Next with a broad chisel split the bulk of the waste away, and pare the flat true. This is of course the finicky part, and I use a 6" steel rule as a sort of mini winding stick, trying it crosswise, lengthwise, and diagonally, paring any high spots till the small surface is tried and true.
Then I lay the leg onto the end of the shaft and scribe around the dovetail, square those lines down the face of the flat, and saw as much of the socket sides as I can. Drill out the bulk of the waste in the socket, and chip, split and pare away til the leg will slide home. A good stong light that you can move from side to side will enable you to see shiney areas in the socket where the leg is binding.
I have only seen a couple old tripod stands where the legs were mortised into the shaft, and they were all what you might call "vernacular" designs. I might call them goofy. That is, they obviously did not come from a classically trained hand. They typically have integrity issues, and show evidence of multiple old repair campaigns. The stresses imposed upon this joint tend to pry or rack the joint open, and the old hide glue just does not hold up to them. (Modern glues may fare better.) If the legs are very thin, there is room to pin the joint, which helps, but one must be careful not to weaken the shaft by drilling 6 holes (two per leg) thru its bottom.
In any event, the addition of a sheet-iron spider to the bottom of a tripod stand is a good insurance policy, for avoiding the mortised legs from pulling out of their sockets, or preventing the splitting of the end of a dovetailed shaft, in the event of a sudden shock, like someone dropping a stack of books onto its top.
Ray

Westchester's picture

After seeing some antique (post #146101, reply #4 of 24)

After seeing some antique pieces with breakage - the shoulders that are undercut to match the round shaft are more prone to breakage when repair / regluing is required
Gluing up for balance is always a task - I tape the legs in place and level the table on my table saw - mark then glue - but you know that steve !
I'm just making noise here for the sake of it .

SA

Eef's picture

ray, great reply to an (post #146101, reply #5 of 24)

ray,
great reply to an interesting discussion. i prefer to leave the leg-to-shaft area flat/square, cut the dovetails at the shaper and cut the dovetail grooves at the shaper also. i had forgotten all about those "sheet-iron spiders". your post jogged my memory.
eef

joinerswork's picture

Eef, Glad you enjoyed it. I (post #146101, reply #6 of 24)

Eef,
Glad you enjoyed it. I have a tripod Queen Anne table, a family piece that has as far as I know, been together since it was built. 18th century, it has a hand forged spider, fastened with hand forged nails. Still sound as a dollar, no wait, better than that.
Ray

SteveSchoene's picture

Thanks a lot Ray. Subsequent (post #146101, reply #8 of 24)

Thanks a lot Ray. Subsequent legs have progressed much more easily as I tightened down on by QC inspection process, so to speak.

The first Tea Table I made was a close reproduction of one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (item 119 in Morrison Heckscher's American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That's the same one Lester Margon allegedly used to make his drawings of of the Tea Table in American Furniture Treasures. Margon made a few changes. The original did have the leg shoulders undercut to conform to the the shaft, and as indicated in the Morrison's text, left some pretty big gaps beween leg and table--except for the money cuts, since the leg and shaft left on visible gaps where they could be seen without up-ending the pedestal. Margon also changed the shape of the table edge, the contours of the legs, and substituted metal pins for the integral hinge carved on the sides of the top board of the bird cage.

I followed the original that time, undercutting the shoulders, though I worked hard to get a much closer fit. I'm still not sure that that was more difficult to fit or lay out. As you say a matter of preference.

I cut the male part of the dovetails on a router table so they were uniform, but am using saw & chisel for the pedestal, after wasting the center with machine help.

By the way, Horton Brasses lists iron spiders as a stock item now.

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

joinerswork's picture

You're welcome steve. (post #146101, reply #9 of 24)

You're welcome steve. Practice makes perfect, right. As the fellow said, lyffe so short, and the trade so long to lerne. Or words to that effect.
Ray

peter28's picture

Steve, When you are done with (post #146101, reply #10 of 24)

Steve,
When you are done with construction, will you be posting any finishing questions? :)
If you need any filler give me a shout.

SteveSchoene's picture

I may take you up on the (post #146101, reply #11 of 24)

I may take you up on the filler. Will you be around next week?

Unless the top turns has different coloring it probably should be pretty straight forward, since it is all kiln dried WITHOUT steam injection. I think the top is going to appear a bit lighter and more "tan", which would be exactly right for the appearance of an older piece. It will be one board, I think about 18", though that depends a bit on how the sapwood runs. I should be able to follow the best rule for matching walnut sapwood to heartwood--leave the sapwood in the scrap bin.

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

peter28's picture

Yes I'll be around. Give me a (post #146101, reply #12 of 24)

Yes I'll be around. Give me a shout a day before and I'll have it mixed well.
If the table's ready, bring it with you I'd like to see it.

DonStephan's picture

One of Rob Millard's dvd's (post #146101, reply #7 of 24)

One of Rob Millard's dvd's has an excellent section on joining the legs to the column. He makes sawing and chiseling the slot by hand look too easy. I never had the precision I wanted with a jig on the lathe.
My usual approach is to make a flat on the column. Hope you are more proficient than me.

9619's picture

Ray, I asked the guy down at (post #146101, reply #13 of 24)

Ray,
I asked the guy down at Home Depot about the best way to attach the tripod legs to the candlestand, and I showed him some photos. He suggested using lag screws and Gorilla Glue. He said the legs would be stronger if I used a nice baltic birch ply than solid hardwood.
Oh yeah, he said to drill the lag in a bit and cover them with pegs to really make them look classy. It really is nice when you can go into your local big box store and get good advice on classic furniture. Of course, if you want lots of different opinions, it is best to go to Knots, but isn't it confusing when you get all of those opinions? Which do you choose?

Oh, if I use sliding dovetails instead of the lag screws, is it best to tap the sliding dovetail in with a ball peen hammer that I use for auto repair, or should I get one with a flatter head?
Thanks,
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Jfrostjr's picture

Mel, Did you go to HD for (post #146101, reply #14 of 24)

Mel,

Did you go to HD for design advice on the rockets?

joinerswork's picture

Mel, Those Home Depot guys (post #146101, reply #18 of 24)

Mel,
Those Home Depot guys don't know $hit from shinola. Lagbolts are too big, what you want are gutter spikes. Get aluminum, the steel ones with gabardine on will rust sooner or later. Drive em all way thru an clich em over. I use my 6#sledge for everything nowadays, it saves time. My dad used to say, "Don't force it! Get a bigger hammer!" It gets those dovetails really sliding, I tell ya. I use the ball pein just for decoration,, the marks make it look handmade.
Ray

flairwoodworks's picture

What did the guys at (post #146101, reply #19 of 24)

What did the guys at Woodcraft say?

Chris @ www.flairwoodworks.com
and http://flairwoodworks.wordpress.com

 - Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

9619's picture

CHris, What did the guys at (post #146101, reply #20 of 24)

CHris,
What did the guys at Woodcraft say? They said that I need a SawStop, a Kreg Jig, a Fein Multimaster, four Wood River planes, and that I should take up Pen-turning. They were very helpful, and offered to help me arrange a loan to refinance my home to get the needed tools.

I think they would have recommended a Bench Dog router table, but Rockler has taken over Bench Dog.

Well Chris, my area is about to get hit with two to three feet of snow in the next two days. You Canadians are not used to such storms. You guys are soft. You should come down here and see what really nasty weather is like. :-)

Had a great dream the other night. I was teaching Frank Klausz how to make dovetailed drawers FAST. I was about to give Rob some hints on how to hold a saw, and on the need for a nice $250 dovetail saw with a Corian handle, when I woke up. Darn. That was going to be a good dream. I had gotten an email asking me to teach the entire FWW staff how to do the houndstooth pattern when the alarm clock went off.

You know, Chris, we gotta make a concerted effort to get this KNOTS place back to its old standards of fun. I have an idea. Why don't you and I do a re-make of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, only with a woodworking theme? I bet it will sell better than the Charlesworth DVDs!!!!

THen we need to do what Tage Frid did - write a BIG TRILOGY on everything you need to know about modern woodworking. We could do it by having our Knots compatriots each do a chapter. Here are my first thoughts on chapters. What do you think?

- Using bondo in Antique repairs - Ray Pine
- Why you should never use veneer - Rob Millard
- What I like about granite tops for power tools - Derek
- Paring down your tool budget - Lataxe
- How to manage people in a woodshop - Boss Crunk
- Getting back to the heart of furniture design and really appreciating Chippendale - Richard (Slainte) Jones
- Making metal planes work for you - Larry Williams
- Appropriate attire for the woodworker - Adam Cherubini
- No need to be overly precise.It's only woodwork - Charlesworth
- Where Holtey went wrong - Philip
- Writing simply and briefly - Mel
- Eschewing commercialism - Chris Schwartz
- I never liked power tools - Duginski
- Cooperating, not competing in woodwork - Rob Lee and Tom Lie Nielsen
- The lives of the great Canadian woodworkers (both of them) - Chris
- Never trust older woodworkers. Buy from me. Chris
- Humor: the soul of woodworking - Forestgirl
- How to continually improve your website - The FWW Staff

Any more ideas for chapters?
Have fun.
Mel
-

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

flairwoodworks's picture

Snow - jeez! We (post #146101, reply #23 of 24)

Snow - jeez! We Vancouverites would gladly take a dump of snow like that. Here we are, hosting the winter olympics in just over one week and we have so little snow on the mountains, we're trucking and helicoptering it in. I was talking to Morgan (AZMO) in Phoenix and he was saying that they have snow on their mountains. What gives???

I like the Frid trilogy idea. His was good, but we can do better. Who are the two great Canadian woodworkers you refer to? Rob and I?

- How about a chapter on borrowing tools from the kitchen?
- Or why you need Festools, Felders, Forrest blades and a Fein to make fine furniture, written by frankfive.

Have you ever seen a book called "What Men Know About Women" It's a book of empty pages, and quite possibly what this trilogy might amount to.

Do you remember the Real Woodworker's Dictionary? That was my all-time favourite thread, I do think.

Chris @ www.flairwoodworks.com
and http://flairwoodworks.wordpress.com

 - Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

Jfrostjr's picture

Mel, Rather than Rap I would (post #146101, reply #24 of 24)

Mel,
Rather than Rap I would suggest that you consider 'Hip Hop Through the Shop'. It has a rather magical sound and I would be interested in seeing you one-hand-back-spin around the bandsaw and do the deep slide under the lathe.

Jerry

9619's picture

Frosty, I go to HD as little (post #146101, reply #15 of 24)

Frosty,
I go to HD as little as possible. They have good cheap MDF and melamine-covered-MDF, and they have lots of screws and nails. Around Christmas, they have cheap plants. The food at HD is especially bad. I have never been able to eat more than three of their half-smokes.

Seriously though, I keep wrestling with the idea of getting and giving advice on Knots (or anywhere else). It is nice to see highly competent folks like Steve Schoene asking for ideas, and getting them from folks like Ray. Ray is as competent as they come, and Steve is mature enough to know BS from good stuff, and he knows Ray's background. So no problems in this thread. Just fun.

Enjoy,
Mel
PS have you noticed less humor lately, or is it just me?

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Jfrostjr's picture

Only "three"? Are you on a (post #146101, reply #16 of 24)

Only "three"? Are you on a diet or do you have a weak stomach?

Mel, These are troubled times, even the latest about NASA, so it is probably tough to joke around a lot. But - I did post a joke in the Cafe the other day.

9619's picture

Frosty, I have been keeping (post #146101, reply #17 of 24)

Frosty,
I have been keeping up with the NASA budget woes via the Washington Post. Everyone saw it coming. The US govt is overspent on two wars, on taking care of the world (not our job) and now Haiti), and the Congressmen and Senators are fattening their state budgets with earmarks, many of which are inane. We spent far too much on the economic troubles that will do good for no one except the Wall Streeters who put it in place. (Does anyone still think Obama is a liberal - after the bailouts and the wars?) Now everyone is worried about the economy. Places like NASA don't fare well in this environment. If the Chinese were putting women on the moon, NASA would get money to "beat the Chinese", but unfortunately the Chinese aren't doing it either. So NASA will have a tough road to hoe for a while.

Even in tough times, humor is the last bastion of sanity.

I will go to the Cafe and read your joke. KEEP EM COMING.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

joinerswork's picture

Mel, Fascinating how the (post #146101, reply #21 of 24)

Mel,
Fascinating how the "technology is our salvation" president is killing the area of gov't that has historically been a wellspring of hi tech innovation (micro circuitry, computers, and freeze-dried ice cream)and turning its capabilities toward monitoring climate change.
I could go on about his--but I won't.
Cheers,
Ray

9619's picture

Ray, "I could go on about (post #146101, reply #22 of 24)

Ray,
"I could go on about his--but I won't."

Aw shucks. I was hopin' you would.

Hey Ray, I am thinking of writing a Rap song about Knots. I need a rappin' partner. You and I could become to Woodworking Rap what the Righteous Brothers were to soul. The Rap song (are those two words an oxymoron?) is called:
"RANT BABY RANT".

I am not a natural writer of lyrics so I needed some insporation. I called my good friend, Shirley MacLaine, and she said that I should just channel some other souls who are good at it. I asked her if I could channel three souls at once. She said that she had never tried that, and that it sounded kinda kinky but why not? So I simultaneously channeled Adam, Larry and Lataxe. WOW. That was powerful. Not like Manny, Moe and Larry at all. (Different Larry, of course).

Anyway, we gotta come up with a name for our Woodworking Rap Duo. I was thinking "Dusty and Rusty", but that sounds too Country. I thought about "MC Hammer and MC Chisel" but the hammer thing was already taken. I thought about "Brad Point and Forstner" but that is too boring. I thought about "Gangsta Woodworkers" but that has no credibility. So I am at a loss for a name. "The Angry Nasty Hand Tool Users" just doesn't have the right ring. Let me know if you have any ideas on this.

Meanwhile, I wrote a response to Chris earlier today that mentions you (and about a hundred others). Things are getting too dull around here. TIME TO STIR THE POT.
Have fun during the storm.
Mel

Measure your output in smiles per board foot.