Devilishly Clever ‘Doe’s Foot’ | Popular Woodworking Magazine
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These notched sticks make it easy to attach to the counter.
Workbenches didn’t always have bits. In fact, for most of human history, workbenches around the world were nothing more than a sturdy table with few holes. The carpenter held the work in place with a combination of pegs, sticks, supports, parts of their bodies and some jagged sticks that were sometimes called “doe feet”.
I was first fascinated by the doe’s foot after seeing the English carpenter Richard Maguire use one in place of a tail vise. And after several years of research and testing at my desk, the doe foot has become an indispensable part of my work.
It is a devilishly intelligent and simple device. And even if you have a workbench with all the bells and whistles, you’ll find a doe’s foot in a pinch useful. Plus, if you’re working on-site without a workbench or on a picnic table on vacation, the doe’s foot is a lifesaver.
How does it work?
The doe’s foot is simply a piece of wood of almost any size with a 90 ° notch in its end. The device works by allowing your piece to get caught in the notch between the two “toes” of the foot, immobilizing it.
The doe foot can be used both in front and behind the work. It can be secured to the countertop with a latch, clamps, pegs or even nails driven into the doe foot and countertop.
To get started, I recommend that you create one that is 1⁄2“X 7” x 12 “. Cut a 90 ° notch at one end as shown in the photos it leaves at 1⁄4“Flat on the corners. We’ll call these apartments” toes. “
Secure support for your doe’s foot
IIf your countertop is slippery for some reason (perhaps you’ve coated it with film), your doe’s foot may need extra traction to stay still.
I have found three solutions that do not involve the nails. One: Apply sticky sandpaper to the underside of the doe’s foot. Any coarse grit, such as # 80 or # 120, is fine. Two: Apply adhesive backed rubber steps. These are usually applied to the rungs of the stairs so that the ladder does not become slippery when wet. Three: Adhesive-backed cork will work.
These products are available at any decent hardware store.
In front of work
In some old paintings you will see the doe foot used in front of the work instead of a planing stop. In many ways, I found the doe foot more useful than the traditional single point glide stop. Here because.
A single point stop is great for planing tight material; virtually anything less than 6 ″ wide is easy to check against stopping. But once you start planing larger stocks, things get complicated. You have to keep moving the butt or tilt the plane just to the right to prevent the wood from spinning on the bench.
With the foot of a doe, he planes a tight kick by pressing it between the toes. With a wider kick, you press it against both toes, forcing the doe’s foot to act as a large glide stop.
Note that this works when plane planks on their faces or edges. The doe foot is effective enough for planing narrow boards on the edges.
But what about planing even wider panels, like an 18 ″ side of a typical chest of drawers? That’s when you move the doe’s foot so it’s behind the work.
Behind the work
Some people believe this technique doesn’t work until they try it. So if you have any doubts, take a spin before dismissing it.
To plan large panels, push the front of the workpiece against a planing stop (or a doe’s foot). Then place the notch of a doe’s foot against the far corner of the back of the board. (See the photo at the beginning of this article – it’s simpler than my words suggest). Fix the foot of the doe against the countertop: I use a stop.
Now you can plane the board with the grain or crosswise. Yes, the doe’s foot is a real panacea for crossing. Gliding through the grain wedges your board against the glide stop and the doe’s foot as if by magic.
For me, that was the moment I realized I didn’t need a tail vise. Armed with a pair of doe legs and a pair of latches, there’s next to nothing I can’t do to a piece of wood when making furniture.
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