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Making Mid-Century Modern Furniture Feet

By: Rob Petrie
How to make good-looking feet for Mid-Century projects.

How to make Mid-Century Modern furniture feet

The feet on the entry bench are rather unique. As you see in the photo above, the dark walnut and round shape contrasts nicely with the rest of the project. Before the feet are turned to shape however, a recess and a mortise will need to be made in them to accept the stretchers of the base.

Figures 1, 2, and 3 take you through creating the mortise, while Figures 4 through 6 will go through the process of shaping.

Mid century feet Figure 1

RECESS. The feet begin as overly long blanks (Figure 1a). After cutting them to size, the first step on these feet is to make the recesses that will cup the shoulders of the stretchers. After laying out the recesses on the blank, I went to the band saw to cut them out.

Mid century feet Figure 2

MORTISE. After cutting the recesses, the mortises were next. I began at the drill press, removing the waste as shown in Figure 2.

Mid century feet Figure 3

I then used a 1/2” Forstner bit to drill a series of holes. To finish the mortise, I cleaned up the sides and squared the ends with a chisel (Figure 3).

Mid century feet Figure 4

BEVEL CUT. The following page shows how to shape the feet, beginning with a bevel cut at the table saw. This will form angled edge shown in the photo above, but for now you’ll want to keep enough material to turn the feet. Dimensions for these bevel cuts can be found in Figure 4a.

Mid century feet Figure 5

SHAPING. Now to shape the feet. In Figure 5 above you’ll see why I oversized the tenon: so I could mount the feet without marring the final pieces. I used a roughing gouge to round out the foot blanks, then sanded them down before taking them out of the lathe.

Mid century feet Figure 6

Finally, the feet can be cut to their final lengths. As shown in Figures 6 and 6a, these cuts will meet the beveled cut from the table saw, giving the angled edges. Given the size and shape of these pieces, the easiest and safest place to make these cuts was at the band saw. With the feet complete, the base of your entry bench can now be assembled.

Published: Aug. 2, 2023
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