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Thread: How do I cut table legs to be all the exact same height?

  1. #1
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    Question How do I cut table legs to be all the exact same height?

    I am building a Craftsman library table (From Woodsmith # 179). The legs are 3" square, & 29" tall, can someone suggest the best way to cut them to insure they are all exactly the same height?
    Thanks
    Dennis

  2. #2
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    A crosscut sled with a stop block clamped to the rip fence would be my first choice. The block will give you consistent registration. Flip the blank for the second and final cut (my example board is not as thick as yours so you have to flip).
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    Last edited by glenn bradley; 03-28-2009 at 12:48 PM.
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  3. #3
    Even after you cut them exactly the same length, you may find that not all the legs are touching the floor at the same time. It may be because the floor is not perfectly level, or the table has a slight twist to it.

    I find it's a good idea to put the screw-in levelers in each leg. That way you can level the table no matter where it's located.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  4. #4
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    Dennis,

    Depending on your tools, you could use a table saw as Glenn notes, or a radial arm saw with a stop (or just carefully scribed cut lines), a chop box or similar, a handsaw.....

    But getting them exact to a micrometer might not be the same as getting the table to sit evenly, as Mike points out.

    If you don't use glides or levelers on the bottoms of the legs, I'd recommend chamfering or rounding over the bottom corners of the legs, to help prevent tearing off a piece while moving the table across the floor.

  5. #5
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    As already mentioned, anything with a stop block will give you repeatable cuts. Measuring each piece before cutting is the road to frustration.

    It is not so important that the legs be 29" or 29 1/16" or 28 15/16", but that they be exactly the same.
    Cheers,
    Bob

    I measure three times and still mess it up.

  6. #6
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    The way we cut the legs to length at a windsor chair class I attended was to cut three legs to length which will define a plane.
    The chair was then put on the wokbench with the three legs on the bench and the long leg hanging over the side. The fourth leg was marked to the top of the bench and then cut to length. Voila!

    You could take three blocks of the same length and place them under the three legs of the table that most closely matched each other. A fourth block could be used to mark the fourth leg.

    Cut it with a hand saw.

  7. #7
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    In factorys,I have seen them have a special flat steel surface with a hole on one corner,with a circular saw blade mounted vertically,so its blade was exactly flush with the surface. They sat the furniture on it with the long leg in the hole,and sawed it off.

  8. #8
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    At 3" you're getting to cutting limits of the saw. First rip a section of 2X4 to 3" wide, then cross cut to check just how square the blade exactly is at 3" +. At a height of 3", a small errors starts to magnify itself.

    If all is well w/ the blade, there is an easy way:

    --Rip a piece of 3/4" scrap plyw'd, MDF, etc., to about 3" wide & about 8" longer than needed.

    --Attach this to the miter gauge (assuming it is tight fitting in the slots & set exactly at 90 degrees) & leave it overhang on the blade side about 2".

    --Cross cut the overhang. This subfence will tell you exactly where the blade cuts.

    --Take your stock, align w/ the end of the sub fence & trim one end. Depending upon your saw's power, blade quality, etc., you might 1st take a rough cut, then move the stock over a bit for a final trim.

    --After doing the above to all legs, measure & mark one to the desired length. Place the cut mark up against the subfence & clamp a block of wood on the subfence for a repetitive cut-off stop.

    You might feel the need to clamp the stock to the fence, then clamp the stop block to the subfence to prevent the stock from shifting.

    --Cut all legs to length. Again, you may need or feel more comfortable first doing a rough cut to length, then do the final trim cut after attaching the stop block.

    I am a firm believer in using such subfence on the miter gauge. A subfence high enough or not raising the blade to its maximum, will cut a reference point as to where the blade is cutting & an overhang will act as a sweep to remove cut offs away from the blade. I feel it makes for more accurate work.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    The way we cut the legs to length at a windsor chair class I attended was to cut three legs to length which will define a plane.
    The chair was then put on the wokbench with the three legs on the bench and the long leg hanging over the side. The fourth leg was marked to the top of the bench and then cut to length. Voila!

    You could take three blocks of the same length and place them under the three legs of the table that most closely matched each other. A fourth block could be used to mark the fourth leg.

    Cut it with a hand saw.
    Yep, that is how I seen it done yesterday when I watched a video on how to build a Windsor Chair. Clifford.

  10. #10
    just keep triming them till nothing but saw dust is left

  11. #11
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    Whenever I add adjustable feet to table legs I counterbore enough that the foot will be recessed and unseen. Then if the floor is uneven and you need to adjust one leg you can do so and it will still be nearly invisible.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  12. Quote Originally Posted by Steve Jenkins View Post
    Whenever I add adjustable feet to table legs I counterbore enough that the foot will be recessed and unseen. Then if the floor is uneven and you need to adjust one leg you can do so and it will still be nearly invisible.
    That seems like a very good tip. Thanks. Clifford.

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