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These carvings are for the front legs of a petite, lady's chair. The goal, and the difficulty, of this carving is to try to present some femininity to something as aggressive as a Ball and Claw foot.

I started by milling the cabriole leg blanks from 12/4 black walnut, and finished them to 2-3/4” square. The pattern was made out of 1/4 “ ply and was drawn on two faces of the rift sawn blank.

First, the mortises were cut on the FMT, then both faces were cut on the band saw. I made one extra leg just in case I messed up and needed a “do-over”.

The “cabriole” shape of the leg was sculpted and the block for the ball and claw remains. Note that there is extra “meat” on the knee for the upper leg, relief carvings later.

The first step is to lay out the guide lines on the base of the foot. These will be used at each step of the carving. I shaved off about 3/32” from each side of the block to make the ball and claw a little more petite.

I start by carving the front two faces and using the outer circle as a guide to form a cylinder. This outer circle is the widest circumference of the ball. By leaving the corners, you can see the claws start to form.

The leg on the right shows the front two faces, and the one on the left shows the back two faces which are done a little bit differently. I can’t carve a vertical cylinder because the location of the “ankle” forces the creation of the top of the ball and the back webs.

Now I return to the front of the ball and start to shape the cylinder into the desired diameter of the ball. This design is a “tapered” ball, so the apex is set high and the top is rounded in to form the front webs and the bottom is more of a straight taper down to the smaller circle on the bottom layout lines.

After the balls are shaped, the claws are rounded to match the shape of the ball. I used a compass to mark the height and location of the knuckles.

After a lot more work, the knuckles are sculpted, the cuticles are cut, the talons are carved down, and the tendons and webs are refined at the top of the ball.

Now it's time to undercut the talons. Now this is where things get scary! I made a popsicle stick template to draw the cut zone on both sides of each talon. Using a 3/8”, #4 gouge and a ¼” bench chisel, I carefully carved a way the wood under each talon.

After some riffler filing and some sanding, I sprayed some mineral spirits on the feet and this is what they look like.



Chisel And Bit Custom Crafted Furniture

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