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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Carving a Baby Butt Corner For the Top - I Needed Help of My Friends

I decided to make a practice notched corner ( also called a baby butt) on the table top.  I have never made this type of molded corner.  Although they are common in 18th century furniture there does not seem to be a lot of documentation about the dimensions.
Here are some pictures of the corner.  The lower right one is from David Turner a SAPFM member in Detroit who made it in 2004.  They were all helpful.

I have a hard time translating these flat pictures to the three dimensions of the real corner.  I addition I do not have the dimensions that will work for the size of the table top I am making.  I made three failed attempts that I never finished.

The fourth one came out ok.  One reason is that I had adjusted the dimensions based on the failed carving starts.  This is done in poplar which is too soft to really carve but I think I got the dimensions right.

So I started over using African Mahogany.  I wanted to test my dimensions and see if I could repeat the process.  I start with 1" set back from the point and 1" circles or 1/2" radius curves to fill the area. This defines the beginning of the lower butt.

Then I do the same on the top edge only this time I use 1/2" circles  1/4" radius and 1/2" set back.  This defines the upper butt.

Then I use a jig saw from the bottom to cut out the large circles.

I use a 1/4" #5 to set in the small circles at the top and start from the center to carve away the waste with a 1/2" straight or #3 chisel.

I just keep working removing the waste and following the existing curves.

This is how it looks when it is starting to like the final shape.  Now to start to round down on the lower front butt.

Starting to get there.  Still needs more rounding on the both upper and lower sections.

I turn it over an put the 1/4" round over back on to the bottom.

Now I continue to round over to meet the lower curve.  I am starting to use files now to do the final shaping.

Pretty much done here.  It is important that as you view the curve as your eye will follow it as it goes around the corner it flows as one molding shape.

Here is today's video.


  1. Where do you find all that patience? I need a bottle of it ,liquid, pills, whatever!
    The final test looks really good, now there's only four more to do.
    I wonder how long the original furniture makers took to carve a corner like that, back in the 18th century?

    1. I would imagine that it only took them minutes. Remember they were working for a living and the more they did the more beer they could drink.