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Quick, but not dirty

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Woodworkers often take the “quick and dirty” route to shorten tasks. I recently took a shortcut that saved a lot of time, and came out looking great. Quick, but nothing dirty about it.

I’ve been working on a small oak folding table that’s a prototype for one I’m planning for my next book. At this point in the project my main concern was getting the folding action right, so I opted to save time by not turning the legs as envisioned in the design. Instead, I picked up some turned 1-1/2” x 1-1/2” stairway balusters. I cut off the square portion on the bottom, and then trimmed the square portion on the top to bring the balusters to the desired length of the legs.

These baluster table legs worked great. So great, in fact, that I’m going to include their use in the final project as an alternative for readers without lathes. Turned balusters are available in a wide range of profiles, sizes and wood species. The ones I got were oak, and the profile pattern is so similar to the profile I wanted anyway that they were perfect right off the shelf.

Best of all, turned balusters are considerably cheaper than ready-to-use turned tables legs. I priced table legs of the size and style I needed, and found most of them fell in the $30-$40 range (with a few considerably more expensive). These balusters were regularly priced at only $11, but I got them on sale for about $6 each.

I take shortcuts in the shop whenever I can for efficiency and to save time and money, but only when the results can’t be seen in the finished project. This is a case were a shortcut is on display for anyone to see, but looks good in the bargain.

Till next time,


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