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My uncle was recently trying to fix up a cabinet that used to belong to my grandfather for my mother. It used to be part of a modular set and you attached the same drawer set on each end.

Since she only had the one my uncle wanted to embellish the outer edges with chair legs. He then told me he basically tried to cut them in half free hand with the table saw. While he didn't hurt himself he did say "Never doing something that stupid again."

What could you do to cut a turned chair leg in half? Table saw and band saw come to mind but the leg will not have the same dimensions from top to bottom. Cutting a dowel in half could just be a matter of a 45 degree box jig but that wouldn't work here exactly? Also would be hard to secure it given the round curves and what not.

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This can be done safely on a table saw, although the workpiece must be held securely on a jig of some sort. With a slight mod one of the ripping sleds shown in this Answer could be used.

In terms of power saws the bandsaw is the ideal choice for this, even allowing the cut to be done safely freehand. In addition it has the thinnest kerf so you lose the least amount of wood. Although this could be done freehand attaching the leg to a jig of some kind would help ensure a good result, a version of those commonly used to cut small logs seems the perfect starting point:

Log sled 1

Source: Bandsaw Resawing on Popular Woodworking.

Log sled 2

Source: Lumberjocks

Obviously a cut like this can be made by hand but a fair amount of experience is needed to get a long straight rip cut in thin material. This would ideally be done using a dedicated ripsaw and not a saw with multi-purpose teeth.

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I have not cut chair legs with an irregular profile, but I have successfully ripped 1" diameter dowels. The process is to make a sled and run it through the table saw.enter image description here

But the sled is inverted from what you might normally consider a sled. The sled is made as shown with a square tunnel running the length of the sled and capped at the rear end. You will have to carefully rip the three long components to fit your dimensional requirements, then screw, glue, or nail them together. The cap has a hole drilled in it which is the same size as the end of the leg.

Nestle the leg in the tunnel and insert the leg into the hole in the cap. Adjust the fence on the table saw to the desired position, presumable dead center on the circle, but offset if you wish.

Then the sled through the saw and, voila, you will end up with a perfectly cut piece.

  • Excellent! Of course, the table saw will take a wider kerf than the band saw, but you get the added benefit of a reusable sled. If you really need 1/2 the leg for decorative purposes and can't afford/don't want to lose the few millimeters due to the kerf, just do the sawing slightly off-center. – FreeMan May 4 '16 at 16:31
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If I had to do this, I'd go with bandsaw and some sort of support carriage or guide rail to hold the leg stable while you cut it, much like using a bandsaw to mill boards or veneer out of a section of tree trunk.

However, fancy half-round, quarter-round, and three-quarter round turnings are available from woodworking supply houses for exactly this purpose, which would make all the complications Someone Else's Problem.

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Since this sounds like a hypothetical question (original was already cut, for better or worse, by Uncle Handy), I suggest the use of a sharp, hand-held rip saw, provided you can handle one properly and will take the time to correctly mark and steady the workpiece. It will save time and wood (yes, wood - because you don't have to build a small piece of furniture just to make a single cut.) Also, you get the bonus of working quietly and with no dust (or fingers, or kicked-back wooden missiles) flying around. Plus, you'll learn a valuable skill. Not knocking power tools, I choose them for most shop tasks, but this sounds like a hand-tool job.

  • If you are quite skilled with a hand saw and have a high quality, sharp saw, this is definitely one option, but it might not be the best one. If it's your last chair leg that you're trying to bifurcate, this isn't the right time to be learning a valuable skill. I don't disagree with you - there is great satisfaction in doing it by hand, but it may not be the best advice for most people. Oh, and welcome to Woodworking.SE! – FreeMan May 4 '16 at 16:35
  • @FreeMan - Agreed, practice first on a piece that doesn't matter. I actually had mentioned the condition "if you have the requisite skill" in the original edit, but somehow omitted it, so good catch! And thx for the welcome, FM. – user1457 May 5 '16 at 10:30

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