The Gilpinoid Leg
Adaptable furniture leg gives casework the distinctive mark of its maker
Synopsis: Designed originally to relieve some of the sharp edges on his furniture and make it more toddler-friendly, this leg has become a favorite of Hank Gilpin’s. The leg combines a traditional square post with a fin-like projection on the outer corner that can be rounded off. It functions like a square leg, but opens the door to lots of design options: a tapered fin, a turret corner, and more. Gilpin shapes his leg from solid wood to guarantee continuity of grain and color.
One day long ago, while designing a desk, I watched my very energetic 2-year-old son racing through the house, his head at tabletop level. The furniture suddenly seemed to be bristling with pointy corners and sharp edges, each one of them inviting him to a perilous head-meets-corner moment. The potential for serious bruising got me thinking, and before long I had designed a leg for the desk that combined a traditional square post with a fin-like projection on the outer corner that I could round off to eliminate the sharp angle. The section of the new leg was an odd shape—I believe the geometric term for it is the seven-sided Gilpinoid. Structurally, the leg functioned just like a plain square leg, but the fin gave me all sorts of decorative options.
I realized I could taper the fin so it projected less at the top than at the bottom, giving the leg a bit of a graceful lift and leaving enough width at the bottom to make a shapely, scalloped foot. Where the desktop projected over the top of the leg, I designed a turret corner, which echoed the shape of the leg while eliminating more head-whacking right angles.
My first thought was to glue up the finned leg from two or three smaller…