Completing the French Feet
I got to spend a lovely few minutes in the shop last night to finish up the shaping of the french feet for this Hepplewhite book case. When I last left off, I had just glued the mitered feet together but had yet to shape the outer compound curve. It is certainly possible to do this shaping before glue up, but I find that I can get a more consistent shape to saw it after the glue has dried. I do this at the bandsaw and you need a support block or jig to hold the bracket foot while sawing. These feet are pretty small so I grabbed a 2″ square block of scrap that was laying about and double stick taped the bracket to the block.
A few of these feet had some dried glue built up in the inside corner so I needed to clean that out so it would fit cleanly on the cutting guide. I need that to fit a glue block later anyway.
Now back to the bandsaw to begin the cutting. Like most compound forms, when you cut one face you remove the pattern marks on the opposing face and you must tape the fall off back on so you can follow the line.
With a mitered foot like this, you don’t need to worry about that and can use the grain and glue line to guide your second cut. Take a look at this picture and you can see what I mean.
The end grain stands out clearly from the face grain and makes a perfect pattern. Also notice how our extra time to orient the pattern with the grain has worked out. The grain lines flow perfectly with the curve of the foot.
So with the second face cut, it is time to shape and smooth them. I turned to a curved bottom spokeshave and a Japanese rasp for this work. The same cutting block that held the blank steady at the band saw is invaluable here as well.
It turns out I didn’t even use the rasp as the curve was gentle enough for the shave to do all the work. Once again that miter line we used as a guide to saw the second face is handy here to make sure you have a consistent curve on both faces. Continue to shape the face until you can no longer see the glue line. In the picture below you can see that I still have to take a little meat off the center of the curve.
Finally after the shaping is done I have 4 beautiful French Feet. I just need to add glue blocks to reinforce the miter and provide an attachment point to the bottom of the case.