Acanthus Leaf Legs

Seems I’m on a roll lately with Acanthus leaves. They are traditionally a great design element to add to many types of carvings. They are well worth learning to do as they can be adapted to most any surface, can be twisted, turned, stretched and made to work in countless situations. And, they always look like something interesting is going on to catch your eye.

Here I was asked to build 4 legs in cherry that are 5 inches square and 35 inches long. I also had to make 2 in paint grade ( Basswood) that are 3 inches square. I first made up a sample block, which you can see in one of the photos in order to be sure the cuts I was about to make for the feet of the legs gave me enough stock to carve the volutes on them as well as have a pleasing dimension. Once that was done I was able to remove the waste to shape the feet. Then I made up some jigs in order to do the routing of the grooves that outline the center panels and define the volutes at the tops of the legs.  Though it’s difficult to read in the photos the center sections are actually an “ogee” shape and curve in two dimensions.

In order to have the leaves near the foot, as well as the design of Lavender flowers on the upper section of the legs I mitered half inch pieces of wood to add to this area. This allowed the leaves to stand above the surface of the legs. I also added material to the volutes themselves to give them some depth and interest.

Here you can see the lines to indicate the cuts necessary to form the cut outs for the feet/volutes

This is the sample block I made to ensure the shapes would be correct. I just used some scrap basswood to make some quick cuts,, plan the sequence and see that they would be useable.

A quick paper sketch , primarily for the customer, to see the size and shape of the Lavender flowers for the upper leg. I generally don’t use paper to transfer designs as it’s not durable for repeated tracings.  Also, this gave me the general shape to transfer to the mitered panels I added to allow this design to stand proud of the surface of the legs. A similar technique was used for the lower Acanthus leaves that sweep into the foot itself on the lower portion of the legs.

The leg on the far right is still clamped and the others are nearly finished being carved.

A side view shows just how much the Lavender flowers stand off the surface of the legs. You can also see a bit of how the center panels are curved.

By adding material to the lower leg it allowed the Acanthus leaves to also stand above the surface of the leg and carving allows them to sweep into the curve of the foot and blend nicely adding to the ‘drama’ of the shape as well.

A bit out of sequence but this shows the initial shaping after the wood was glued on to make the Acanthus leaf and getting it to blend into the sweep of the foot. I have to carve the form first before carving the actual leaf designs. Everything falls within the form itself. There is plenty of wood there as you have seen to carve a nicely shaped leaf with plenty of depth to it.

Nearly finished Lavender flowers as well as volutes with the additional wood applied to them giving them some depth and interest.

The bottom foot, leaves, volutes nearly finished but far enough along for you to see just how it will look. You’ll also notice the initial grooves that were routed in to create borders have been rounded over to create beads along the center panels.

The nearly finished foot.

I only need to finish up with a bit of carving on the volutes and then do a final overall sanding to have these completed ready for shipment.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dorisfiebig
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 20:33:12

    hi mark, again your favourite leaves, and nicely executed. i like how you added dimension to make leaves and lavender lift off the surface. makes for a very rich feeling…. given the measurements of the legs, that must be quite a table they are made for… nice work.


  2. markyundt
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 07:00:38

    Thanks Doris. Yes, these are my favorite and in addition to the bath vanity, these legs I’m currently working on yet even more. They really are that versatile.
    These legs will end up on an island unit in a kitchen. They can tend to get quite massive.


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