Though my wife might disagree, I am definitely a leg man.
Whenever I’m going to great lengths in the shop, it’s usually because I’m preparing a set of legs for a table or a chair. I will sort through hundreds of board feet of lumber to find the right thick planks that have the grain pattern I like.
I will gladly band saw boards at odd angles to create the bastard grain that will produce a leg that looks good from all sides. Today I spent a long time (too long, actually) finding stock that had the right curve to work with a double taper on a Stickley 802 sideboard I’m working on.
And when it comes to prepping my stock, I always do the legs (and any panels) separately from the rest of the carcase stock so I can focus on getting the legs dead square.
Like any red-blooded American woodworker, I also like a really nice top. And I go the extra mile to make a top that gets admiring glances. But I think tops are easier because ultimately they just have to look good. Accuracy can take a back seat – except at the edges.
Legs have to be accurate on certain faces, otherwise the whole assembly will be cock-eyed, have gappy joints or both.
I don’t know any woodworkers who obsess about bottoms in furniture. Perhaps James Krenov? He puts a whole lot of effort into the base when he builds a chest-on-stand.
And don’t get me started on those nutjob woodworkers who obsess about feet.
— Christopher Schwarz