What Makes a Table Leg?

What makes a table leg? Often, it’s the unique combination of turnings that defines that leg’s style, whether it’s rustic, mid-century modern, or contemporary. Additionally, each part of a table leg is designed with a purpose, either practical or aesthetic.

Round turned – Round turned legs make up the majority of styles and designs we offer. These are turned using a lathe, which simultaneously spins and carves the leg into intricate designs.

Square turned – We also offer a selection of square turned legs, though many of these we order from suppliers. The process to make these is a little more complicated.

What makes a table leg?

Carved – Our hand-carved legs feature intricate detailing provided by one of our most impressive vendors. These parts are in high demand and the carvings aren’t just limited to table legs. Hand-carved elements can be found in just about all of our product collections.

Basketweave – Our basketweave legs are a specific sub-section of carvings available from the vendor mentioned above. We also have a full basketweave collection available that includes things like corbels, crown molding, door panels, drawer pulls and corner blocks.

Reeding – Reeding adds an element of light and shadow that brings a classic and refined style to your dining table or kitchen island. We also offer several sizes of half round reeded mouldings for you to choose from that can offer an added element of cohesion to your overall design.

Fluting, Roping, & Barley Twist – Whether you are choosing legs for an island, dining table, desk, or another project, certain elements such as reeding, fluting, roping and barley twist can add subtle texture, dimension, and character to the piece.

Top Block – The top block is possibly the most important element in your leg’s design. If you’re planning to use a skirt kit, build shelves or incorporate cabinets into your design, the top block is what you’ll attach these to. Two adjacent sides of the block will face out, while the other two sides will attach to the skirt kit, cabinets or shelving. Additionally, it is the width of the top block that we will use in our formulas for building a skirt kit to help determine how big the skirt boards themselves will need to be.

Smile Lines – No, we aren’t talking about the smile lines on your face. Smile lines on a table leg refer to the gradual arc between any block and the turned section of the leg. This is a necessary element for in-house turned legs. (Note: if you’re interested in a custom leg that doesn’t have smile lines, but is instead cut straight across, we have a vendor we use for that!)

Bead – Beads are convex arcs protruding from the turned sections of your leg.

Flat – Flats are often considered a transitional element, and often occur between beads (above) and coves (below).

Cove – Coves are concave arcs cut into the body of the leg.

Shoulder – The shoulder of a turned leg refers to the upper, wider element in the leg’s column or shaft, and in some designs may actually resemble a human shoulder in its drastic cut.

Column/shaft – The column or shaft is often a tapered section, wider at the top and narrowing as it goes down. Alternatively, the column/shaft may feature some of the design elements listed above, including carving, basketweave, reeding, and more. The column/shaft can also take up the majority of the leg’s design.

Taper – Tapered sections can be seen in many designs, typically in the column/shaft or after the stretcher block in what is considered the toe of the leg.

Stretcher Block – Some table legs come with a bottom block included, and this is often a throwback to the stretchers used in the Middle Ages and on. These stretchers were typically used to help reinforce the table. Today, they are more ornamental in nature, though still used often.

Browse our selection of table legs, island legs, and more to see all of these design elements at work.

Have an idea for a leg of your own? We can make that! Fill out our quote request form here, or call our friendly customer service representatives at 800.849.8876 to see about getting your custom legs made!

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