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I'd like to build a table which has these antique-style legs. However I'm still a beginner in woodworking and have no idea how I could create legs like these. Which tools and techniques would allow me to do this?

enter image description here

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    Hi, welcome to Woodworking. If you go down the path of wanting to create legs of this style yourself, I highly recommend taking a turning course (if possible) and reading a small handful of turning books to get a solid grounding in good technique, general needs for a safe and productive lathe setup, and above all in safe practice (see our What do I need to know for basic lathe safety? for a start on that). DO NOT expect to learn this from YouTube. There are some fine instructors on YT but equally there are some terrible ones [contd]
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 17:07
  • ...and when you're just starting out you don't know enough to winnow the wheat from the chaff. It's important to get good, safe, working practices ingrained from the start as it's so hard to 'rewire' any bad habits you pick up early on (this is true of many other areas of woodworking as well, perhaps most significantly in use of the table saw).
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 17:11

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The main piece of equipment you'd need is a lathe. It's a fairly significant investment in time and money. The process of making pieces with this tool is usually called "turning".

Your workpiece is clamped between the headstock and tailstock and the lathe's electric motor spins the wood at a high rate of speed allowing a tool (typically supported by the tool rest) to remove unwanted wood along the length of the workpiece. (See the second picture.)

Typical lathe with major parts labeled

(Image lifted from: How to use a wood lathe)

Additionally, you'll need a collection of tools (gouges, scrapers, parting tools, etc.) to make the different shapes and curves along the length of the legs. Other tools will be needed to accurately replicate the profile across multiple legs.

Wood turning tool in use with lathe

(Image lifted from: Beginner's Guide to Woodturning Tools)

Alternatively There's another solution for someone who's just looking to make a single piece of furniture or to complete a couple of projects.

You can purchase pre-made, turned legs in various lengths and styles for furniture projects from retail suppliers. It isn't considered good form to make specific shopping recommendations here, but you can find many choices by firing up your favorite search engine and searching for "turned legs for furniture" or something similar.

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  • Thank you, that's what I'm looking for!
    – Bobface
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 13:38
  • @Bobface, to give you some specific terms to help you search for relevant stuff now, all 'linear' turning like this is referred to as spindle turning or turning between centres (the drive centre on the left and the tail-stock centre on the right). Note this is NOT reversed if you happen to be left handed.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 17:05
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    You might want to add in some mention of two or three additional elements in a turning setup — starting with safety glasses or a full-face protector and a good dust mask as these are basically essential for all users, plus a decent grinder in almost all cases as well. Unless all turning is done with carbide-tipped tools and sanding and/or file work, a grinder is virtually a must-have, although you can scrape by (sorry for the pun) without one.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 17:21

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