Hope chest – shaping oak legs

Square legs have their place in furniture pieces, yet shaped ones define styles. It’s a challenge to come up with new ones and keep them as yours. Imagine a style if you will. We have lots to choose from and too many to list.

Today I shaped the legs of my new Hope chest using two spokeshave types from Veritas (one hand made from their metal parts kit), a rasp, file, #4 Stanley smoothing plane with cambered cutting iron, #4 1/2 Woden smoothing plane, 1″ Marples bevel edged chisel and Thorex chisel hammer.

It will be hard to imagine shapes without the relationships the legs have to the rails and raised panels I will be working on next week, but the important thing is that you see how radical and powerful a handful of tools can have on defining shape. Now each leg took me 12 minutes to shape completely. The cost of the tools to do this brief work will be around $150 in the US and £150  in the UK, but of course it could be done with several hundred pounds of machines and safety equipment. Another thing – these hand tools could not wear out in a lifetime. Not one of them, new or secondhand. I doubt whether any experienced machinist with the right machines could match the speed and quality  I can achieve with the tools listed above.


I use the spokeshave I made from the Veritas spokeshave kit to create the long sweep I need from the foot to the top of the leg. This enables me to create the exact curve I want, hogs off stock fast and is extremely easy to use.

The #4 plane evens out unevenness left the spokeshave. The cambered blade again removes stock quickly.

My Woden #4 1/2 smoothing plane finely set makes the final sweep along the length and down to my guideline where I split the pencil lines each side.

I revert now to the other Veritas spokeshave. This plane (yes it is a plane) performs the final task into the main chamfer with a seamless transition into the straight chamfer and that part of shaping is done.

My finished leg looks like this.