Lill's Quilt Rack: Part VI, Those Pesky Leg Joints

Before I rounded over the quilt rack legs, I cut the joinery on them.

It was critical to hold the legs in place when marking the joints.

To do this, I began by laying out a set of legs on the full size drawing. I used a sharp pencil to mark the locations. Once I had one set marked, I took the matching set and transferred the marks from each leg on the first side to its corresponding leg on the other side.

For the laps at the top of the legs, where the front legs weave between the rear legs, I started by determining how deep I wanted the front leg to run into the rear legs. I settled on a depth about ¾ the width of the front legs (the actual width of the legs and depth of the joint doesn’t really matter. Just use what works for you). I marked the depths with a combination square.

Before cutting the joints I ran around the markings with my marking knife to score the grain and define the joint. As with most of my joints and cuts, I used relative dimensioning. The first side was done running the knife against a ruler. Then I took the front leg and set it against the knife line. I then ran the knife against the leg to score the second side of the joint. The sides of the leg were scored running the knife along the combination square.

One of the top leg joints after routing.

From there I laid the legs in pairs on my bench. I routed out the joint in the front leg using an 1/8" spiral upcut bit in my palm router. The rear leg provided support for the router base. I did the routing by eye, cutting the joint half its depth at a time and running about 1/8" away from the knife mark.

Test fitting a front leg in the joint after chiseling to the line.

Once I'd routed the four (4) rear legs in this manner I was left with full depth, flat bottomed joints which were about 1/8" too narrow. I used a chisel to get right to the knife lines as cleanly as possible.

With the leg intersect joints done it I was then able to determine the joints for the lap of the middle and rear legs at their bases. Because the notches already cut in the middle and rear legs needed to both meet the front leg, I set the middle and rear legs on each other, lining up the notches. I slid in a front leg and then determined the remaining gap using a setup block.

The setup block indicated the TOTAL amount the legs needed
to overlap at their base.

That gap was the total I would need to remove from the bottom of the legs so that when they lapped each other they would also fit around the front leg properly. These joints were milled in the same manner as the upper joints. I routed out most of the waste (this time with a ¼” spiral upcut bit) and then chiseled to the line. Unfortunately, I miscalculated and took the whole amount off each leg – essentially making each recess twice as deep as needed. I quickly realized this, milled up spacers and glued them in.

At their base the middle are rear leg overlap each other. With the
middle leg coming up between them all 3 leges are on slightly different planes.

After all this joint cutting the legs now fit into each other as intended. I was able to clamp them in place and start working out where they should be cut at the bottom and exactly where the shelf would fit.

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