Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary .......... Illustrated Architecture Dictionary

Furniture - Legs / Feet / Stretchers

Table of Contents:

See also: Chairs - CONSTRUCTION

Animal legs

A colonial American term for bowlegged or
cabriole-legged furniture of the England and America in the early 18th century.

Cabriole (KAB ree ole) leg

The name given to chair or table legs in the style of the first half of the 18th century:

A curved leg with outcurved knee and incurved ankle.

The foot may be a club, a claw-and-ball, a paw or scroll, and there may be a carved ornament on the knee such as the scallop shell or the lion motif.

Originated in Italy and is a conventionalized representation of the rear leg of a leaping goat.

Modeled after an animal's leg, the S-shaped cabriole leg gives furniture a more intimate, human quality than the massive turned legs of the William and Mary style. The cabriole leg is also extremely practical; the balance it achieves makes it possible to support heavy pieces of case furniture on slim legs, without the use of stretchers.

Used on many types of furniture besides chairs.


The upper convex curve of a cabriole leg

  Lyre-shaped legs

Popular during the Empire period.

Marlborough leg

A straight, sometimes fluted leg with a block as a foot that was used in the mid-18th-century English and American furniture.

Block foot: Another name for the Marlborough foot

It was especially favored by Chippendale.

Spider legs

Spiral leg

A leg resembling a twisted rope, or a support with a winding descending flute or groove.

It was originally of Portuguese and Indian origin, and became popular during the Restoration.

Saber legs

Chair legs tapered to resemble a cavalry saber.

First used on the Greek klismos chair. Both the Greeks and Romans used saber and animal legs.

Fine splayed legs often found on early 19th century Sheraton chairs in the Grecian manner. The front legs flare forward, the rear legs curve out behind.

Square leg

Hepplewhite Pembroke table - American Antique Furniture, Orchard Park, NY

Tapered leg

Leg narrows from top to bottom.

Found on Hepplewhite pieces.

A raised, tapered design superimposed on the existing leg is referred to as the "spade" foot.

Illustration: Hepplewhite Pembroke table - American Antique Furniture, Orchard Park, NY


Arrow foot

A cylinder-shaped foot that is tapered and separated from the leg by a turned ring.

Commonly found in Hepplewhite and Sheraton designs

Ball foot

Turned round foot.

Similar to a bun foot, but rounder.

Most popular in the William and Mary period; also used on some Empire pieces

Block foot

See Marlborough leg above

Blunt arrow foot

Bracket foot

Also called a console leg.

One of the simplest of furniture feet shaped like a bracket, usually with a mitered corner.

Variations include a plain bracket foot, a molded bracket foot, or a scrolled bracket foot.

See French foot below

Commonly found in Hepplewhite and Sheraton designs

Bun foot

A squat version of a ball foot, flattened slightly on top and more at the bottom.

Claw-and-ball foot

Carved to represent a bird's claw grasping a ball Derived from the Chinese dragon's claw holding a crystal ball or jewel.

Perhaps first adapted in Europe by the Dutch, it spread to England, from whence it was introduced to America about 1735. Enormously popular as the foot of American cabriole leg furniture in the Queen Anne and Chippendale, styles. In America, a bird's claw was generally used, mostly the eagle's.

Also used in the twentieth century in the Colonial Revival cabriole leg.

Club foot / pad foot
Foot with a slightly pointed toe, usually thick and substantial.

Found especially in
William and Mary, Queen Anne and Chippendale styles.

Found especially in Empire style

Cuffed foot

Cylindrical feet

  Drake foot

See "Trifid foot"
  Dutch foot

See "pad foot" below

Elongated bulb feet

Sometimes found on Sheraton style tables

Flared foot

French (bracket) foot

A simple outswept bracket foot.

Has concave curve down the mitered edge which gives a splayed effect. Both the inner and outer edges of the leg are curved, giving the appearance of a stunted cabriole leg, or, as some would say, a light , graceful; appearance.

Almost always found on case furniture in combination with a valanced skirt or apron.

Popular in 18th-century English and American furniture, including Hepplewhite and Sheraton designs

Hoof foot

Lion's paw foot

  • Illustration: : Hofmobileliendepot Imperial Furniture Collection,Vienna, Austria

Marlborough foot

See Marlborough leg above


Animal foot and the extension from it, often in the form of a wing or a cornucopia, found on Empire furniture

Onion foot

An onion-shaped turned foot of the Early Renaissance not very much used after the William and Mary Period.

Pad foot

Alternate names: Dutch foot, club foot

A flattened disk-like foot often found under a cabriole leg. It is similar to a club foot.

Sometimes a club foot resting on a disk is termed pad foot.

Favored on Queen Anne cabriole legs

Paw foot

A foot carved to resemble an animal's paw, most frequently that of a lion. Above it there is generally carved leafage.

"Greek tripod tables (usually used for serving wine) had legs carved into animal leg and paw foot designs modified from ancient Egyptian prototypes with the introduction of duck heads and acanthus leaves." - Treena Crochet, Designer's Guide to Furniture Styles," pub. 2204, p. 47

Reeded brass foot

Often on a caster

Scroll foot / Scrolled toe / Whorl foot
See Whorl foot below
See C-scroll foot above

Slipper foot

A club foot with a more pointed and protruding toe.

Popular in Queen Anne period.

Snake foot

Foot carved to look like snake's head.

Narrow elongated foot swelling slightly upward before pointed end.

Found in 18th century English and American furniture, e.g., Queen Anne , Chippendale and some Federal tripod-base tables

Spade foot

Tapered rectangular foot

Popularized by Thomas Chippendale.

Commonly found in Hepplewhite and Sheraton designs.

Formed by applying pieces of wood - not by carving.

Spanish foot

Also called: Spanish scroll foot or Braganza toe

Scrolled foot with curving vertical ribs

A hoof-like, grooved and flared foot which ends in an inward curving scroll

Introduced from Portugal during the Restoration period and used in 18th-century English and American furniture, especially on turned legs in the William and Mary and the Queen Anne periods

Splay foot

Same as flared foot above.

Trifid (TRY fid) foot
Alternative name: drake foot

3-lobed endpiece of a Queen Anne cabriole leg.

Derived from Irish furniture design.

  Turnip foot

A ball foot with a small collar at the base

Whorl foot / scrolled toe / scroll foot

A reverse scroll foot

An up-curved, carved foot done in scroll motif, terminating a cabriole leg. A flattened scroll at the end of a cabriole leg originated in the Louis XIV (Baroque) period

Used on Louis XV (Rococo) substyle pieces.

Many of the drawings in Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director in 1754 feature whorl feet.

Appears in England in the William and Mary and Chippendale



The crosspiece that connects, braces, and strengthens the legs of tables, chairs, chests, etc.

Turned rod, or plain or cutout slat, used to reinforce legs.

Egyptian craftsworkers reinforced the joinery by adding stretchers, continuous stretchers, or runners to the legs of stools and chairs. Occasionally, struts were also added between the stretcher and seat rail for extra stability and strength.

  • Kittinger Colonial Revival/Jacobean Revival style  armchair - McCann House

Box stretcher

A structural configuration on the base of a chair that has a bar from leg to leg.


Cross stretcher

See X-stretcher below

H stretcher

A reinforcing element for chair, table, and case furniture legs. A wooden piece, or turning, connects each front leg with the leg immediately behind it. A crosspiece from one of these connecting pieces o the other forms an H.

X stretcher
Also called cross stretcher or saltier

Cross stretchers made flat or curved upward in serpentine form, with knobs or other ornamentation at the intersection.

Used to connect the four supports of a chair or piece of furniture, and to reinforce them.

Domed cross stretcher

Photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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