Tapering 4 x 4 Shaker Legs (no bandsaw)

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Forum topic by Bugzy posted 01-12-2016 04:47 PM 484 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 831 days

01-12-2016 04:47 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question trick tip

Good Afternoon,

I believe this is my first post on LJ…. you always remember your first time!!

I am planning a new kitchen table and am having some troubles deciding the best way to create 2 sided tapered 4/4 or legs (shaker legs).

In doing searches most recommend a band saw but unfortunately my shop does not include one nor is it on the radar.

Without being able to make a jig for the table saw which would bog down on this larger stock (Dewalt 7480 10”). I was next thinking of hand planes, but don’t actually have any experience with them or a Draw knife which i have used to strip bark but not to shape anything with precision.

Would a reciprocating saw work to rough dimension?

I was hoping someone with previous experience with this or similar could share your stories.

Tools that are out of the question at this time:
Band saw, Jointer and table saw (under powered for this stock)

I’m thinking…..
Hand planes but which ones would be best? (new to planes)
Hand saw combined with a finishing(?) hand plane?
Draw Knife?
Circular saw ? (seams like lots of oppurtunity for error as you need to turn stock over a few times for both tapers)

I’m having a hard time figuring this out and it should be easy.
I believe i have over thought it and worrying too much….... but that’s just the OCD kicking in.

Thanks for the help LJ’s.

9 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


6466 posts in 1570 days

#1 posted 01-12-2016 04:57 PM

I’d do it with a hand saw (you can get a cheap japanese pull saw that would work fine if you don’t already have a hand saw) followed by a plane. I did that with my coat tree build.

For the plane, something like a #4 or #5 would work fine and are readily available for pretty cheap.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2238 days

#2 posted 01-12-2016 05:08 PM

There’s no way your Dewalt is too underpowered to make that cut, long as you have a decent blade. I used one at my brother’s to rip long oak boards with no issues at all. You can make a very simple jig with a scrap of plywood, a piece of 2×4 and a couple screws.
That would definitely be my recommendation, given the tools you have. But if you don’t want to you could use a handsaw (better be sharp). It would also be possible to use the drawknife (followed by a handplane), but you have to be really careful with grain direction. I wouldn’t consider using a reciprocating saw for this.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View mahdee's profile


3457 posts in 1187 days

#3 posted 01-12-2016 05:36 PM

I think your table saw should handle it and you can raise the blade an inch or two at a time to get the full cut. If you are going to use a handsaw, mark your taper and make several cuts across the grain to the lines and chisel the waste out followed by plane/spokeshave rasp, etc.


View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 650 days

#4 posted 01-12-2016 05:59 PM

you can use a jointer to taper them. place a stop on the in feed table so that the leg is 3 or 4 inches (where the taper starts) past the cutterhead. make 3 cuts. turn. 3 cuts. turn rinse repeat. you will end up with a tapered leg. same number of cuts per side.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View bandit571's profile


14064 posts in 2103 days

#5 posted 01-12-2016 06:13 PM

Mine are done with a series of planes..

I mark a line to plane to
I start at the foot/bottom and work my way towards the top. #4 to start the first few passes, each pass starts a bit further up.
I then go to longer planes, as I go up the leg
When the line is cut, that face is finished with one swipe of the longest plane. needs no sanding.

Rotate and repeat. Each face takes about as long as it did to type all of this out..

I have a bandsaw…still need a plane to smooth the cut
I HAD a tablesaw, Norm’s jig never worked for me, too much saw marks, and burning
Handsaw would be very hard to start, would need to be a rip type of saw. Then still need a plane to smooth the cut.

Planes only is simpler, just mark a line and plane away. One pass, move back an inch, next pass, and so on up the leg. Shortest bench plane to start( easier to contol) then switch to the longer one further up.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Tim's profile


3030 posts in 1381 days

#6 posted 01-12-2016 06:43 PM

I also bet your table saw could do that fine, but it’s much easier to do with a hand plane than I thought it would be. Bandit’s got the method of course. Marking the line is half the battle, then planing down to it isn’t all that hard. Admittedly easier with some hand plane practice but with lines on both sides to plane to it’s fairly easy to make the sides square. Of course it helps to start with properly squared up stock.

View bonesbr549's profile


1137 posts in 2487 days

#7 posted 01-12-2016 07:32 PM

Easy man make a jig that slides over your TS fence. It can do it just make a couple practice pieces and give it a go. I used the jig for beds (It’s an original from Charles Neil Credit where credit is due). You just need to make a shorter jig. I made it out of mdf & Poplar a butt hinge, and some carriage bolts. I’ve got it hanging on the wall and will use it over and over.

It does require a hole drilled in the top to support an axis for rotating but you could plug it when done. For me it did not matter as the top has a finial

I’d still do it with the TS and a couple quick passes with scraper to finish it off.

You could hand cut or bs cut and finish with hand planes.

the jig is easy to make and zip zip its done. But that’s just me.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View cabmaker's profile


1471 posts in 2229 days

#8 posted 01-12-2016 11:09 PM


View Bugzy's profile


10 posts in 831 days

#9 posted 01-13-2016 04:09 AM

Thank everyone. I think I’m going going to look into hand planes a l further. I haven’t used the spokeshave in a little while but this I I perfect opportunity to dust er off.

Thanks for the great responses

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