Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lamb's Tongue

A lamb's tongue is a decorative profile carved into a workpiece which eases the transition between a chamfer and a square corner. The original sawbuck table does not use a lamb's tongue, but a simple curve, on the stretcher that links the two leg assemblies.
One of the things that attracted me to this project was all of the details—ones that I have never tried before—that were applied to what at first glance appears to be a very simple table: eased chamfers, tusk tenons, sawbuck legs, and an angled drawer.

First, I made a jig so the corner I was working on would face up and so I didn't have to use clamps to secure the stretcher to the workbench. It is entirely possible to make this design element with just a straight chisel. Maybe that's why we see this feature in so many antiques—it's a subtle, yet distinctive, and easily created element. To use a chisel, carve the convex portion with the chisel bevel up. Use it bevel down, and lever the chisel in a scooping motion for the concave portion, working from both sides of this section to avoid tearout. Scoop down into the "valley" and feather the area where two sides of the valley come together. I had an easier time accomplishing this with a gouge.

Now...onto the tusk tenons!


Vic Hubbard said...

This is really turning out to be a much more beautiful piece than I originally envisioned. I thought.... "A saw buck???" That's why it's good to keep the mind open!
Thanks VC

Frontier Carpenter said...

Great legs :)

Kari Hultman said...

HA! There's a funny story behind the legs....after I had first cut them out and was looking them over, I said to my partner, who was in the house but not looking at me, "I think my legs are too wide." She said, still not looking, "Oh, I've never thought that."

Uh, thanks, but I was talking about the sawbuck table.

Vic Hubbard said...

Not touchin' that one VC. I really do love the way this piece is turning out. What's your plan for a finish?

Kari Hultman said...

I'm thinking about BLO and wax. That seems to be a tried & true finish.

....but it will be a looooong time before I get to the finishing part!

Anonymous said...


Your visual story telling is quite spectacular. I smell a book in the offing. Even an eBook.

Kari Hultman said...

Gary, if I did that, then I'd have to pay my photographer! (my partner)

David Pruett said...

Kari -

I seem to discover these wonderful gems in your blog in a backwards fashion . . . which is OK since its fun to read your blog with a good cup of coffee. I enjoy your writing style and presentation. Your experience as a graphic designer is serving you well! BTW kudos to your photographer. Great woodworking, great writing and excellent photography is a hard combination to beat!

This is an absolutely wonderful description of how to do a lambs tongue detail. Thank you!


Kari Hultman said...

David, I'm not going to pass along your kudos to my photographer (my partner), because she'll start asking me to pay her! ; )