Because I don't really have a wood shop at home, I decided to have the legs CNC routed from 18mm thick Baltic Birch plywood. This way all I had to do was glue the various sections together to make thicker sections, sand and apply a finish, not to mention there are some neat tricks you can do with this type of manufacturing process such as using slots as passages for bolts, creating pockets to keep weight down and the overall accuracy makes it possible to things that would be more difficult using traditional woodworking methods.
I designed the legs using Solidworks and sent the files to a local CNC routing shop called RoboCut CNC
. A few days later I had the parts in hand and was ready to start gluing them together. I was amazed at how well the Baltic Birch cut. There wasn't any chipout on the edges and everything fit together perfectly.
To glue the parts together I spread Titebond II wood glue faces to be glued and pressed them together using about 8 C-clamps per part. Because alignment was critical I included holes and pockets in all of the sections to accept 2 dowel pins. The dowels serve to align the sections together. This is important for looks but also because I had several through holes that would need to accept hardware and if those were misaligned the hardware wouldn't fit correctly and this could create an unsightly gap between the hardware and the wood. The gluing went well, but there are some things I'd do differently next time. When pressure from the clamps is applied some excess glue will squish out at the edges. My instinct was to wipe the glue off with a wet paper towel. Although this cleaned the bulk of the glue off, it also pressed a thin layer of glue into the pores on the edge of the wood. This created an ugly yellow glue smear that needed a lot of sanding time to remove. Next time I would just let the glue be until it was dry and then remove it with a sharp chisel. This would have saved me lots of sanding time. Oh well.
With the legs glued together it was time to apply a finish to them. By this time it is really cold where I live, so applying finish in my unheated garage wasn't an option. Because of this I needed to do the work in my basement which meant that odor from the finish was a major concern. To cut down on the amount of VOCs in the air I opted for a water based polyurethane finish made by Minwax. The odor was almost non existent and I was happy with the results.