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Help With Taper Cuts

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Forum topic by docspencer posted 06-21-2018 12:20 AM 645 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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docspencer

362 posts in 1997 days


06-21-2018 12:20 AM

I’m helping a friend build a coffee table with tapered legs. The tapers start just below where the bottom of the skirt. We are having a hell of a time trying to set the jig so the table saw starts cutting where we want it to start. For example, when we set it so that the front edge of the leading tooth on the blade is just kissing the line, the cut starts way too early. If we line it up with the back edge of the carbide tooth the cut start way too late. Admittedly, I’ve never done tapers, but I’ve been a woodworker for quite some time and this seemingly simple set up escapes me. What am I missing? Go ahead and tell me I’m a dumb ass!


24 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

935 posts in 1493 days


#1 posted 06-21-2018 12:58 AM

A pic of your jig and set-up would help a lot.

If you make the cut with the cut “starting way too late”—can you then move the fence over a little and get the cut right? Get close on the saw and finish on the jointer? Or with a hand plane?

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

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EarlS

1249 posts in 2400 days


#2 posted 06-21-2018 01:12 AM

Are you using the standard taper jig? I’ve never had an issue with having the taper not cut exactly along the edge of the sled portion. Draw out the taper line on the board and mark the edge of the sled where the taper cut starts so you know it is lined up. Check to see if the line on the wood is lined up with the sled edge. I suppose you could probably flip the piece over so the line on the board is on the edge of the sled. Lastly, make sure the hold down clamps are tight and the bottom of the board is against the lower stop. Once you get the taper set using a piece of scrap then the legs should cut exactly the same. If there is a taper on another side (both outside edge tapered) you should still be able to use the same set up so the angles of the taper match.

Beyond that, I’d suggest posting some detailed pictures of the set up, sled, and problems.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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Andybb

1062 posts in 655 days


#3 posted 06-21-2018 01:18 AM

Yes. A pic is needed. If the pre-tapered legs are all the exact same size and the jig is set up correctly they should all be the same when tapered. The whole purpose of a jig is to be able to make repeatable cuts as I’m sure you know.

Took about an hour to make this jig a few years ago. Not much different from a myriad of others on the web. Always dead on, and I am a dumbass. Just ask my wife.

Earl…I’m a pessimist too which usually means I’m either right or pleasantly surprised.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Woodknack

12025 posts in 2432 days


#4 posted 06-21-2018 03:11 AM

I’ve used both the hinge style and plywood sled taper jigs and the latter is easier. I make practice cuts on scrap when using the folding style.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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bandit571

20449 posts in 2735 days


#5 posted 06-21-2018 03:37 AM

Last set I made, I drew out the cut line, then used the bandsaw to rough cut it….then a handplane to smooth the saw marks out…..One could use a powered jointer to smooth the cuts….

First cut. LEAVE the line!

Four legs, tapered on two faces.

Four legs, installed….

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

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therealSteveN

745 posts in 626 days


#6 posted 06-21-2018 04:30 AM

Already mentioned, this jig Is pretty quick to make for cheap. With this jig the second set up he does is what you are talking about doing. The portion of the leg closest to him is completely on the carrier, and he is just trimming off the lower portion. If you do the 2 inside faces of your leg, you’ll have great balance on the leg, and it’s easy to do. The hardest part is figuring which leg you like where? Grain pattern, color, whatever. At the top of the leg write left front, or LF, go around and mark each one. Cut the inner portions, and leave the outer ones alone, and you are done. Remember you can cover it up with pencil lines, because you have to sand, and it will all go away, at least whatever is left after the cuts.

I will point out, the guy in the video made what I think is an error. Like when cutting figures on a band saw. After the cut, you tape back on what you just cut off, so when flat on the table, it is actually flat, not tilted 20 degrees. On his leg he didn’t do that, and you will note he ran out of leg to saw way before where he had gotten to on the first side. So he will have an OUT of balance leg. Just saw that, and figured it might help to point it out.

If you can keep your sides straight on a 2 sided taper, you can cut inside back, then turn to cut inside front, and both will lay flat, he didn’t. If you choose 4 sided on a jig like this, where the stock is laying flat, you will run out of flat sides before you are done, and will be forced to tape pieces back on.

This one also is of the same design but he touches 2 things the other guy didn’t.

Right off the bat he mentioned the #1 use I have for this type of jig/sled. I buy mostly rough wood, and often the edges aren’t straight on both sides, sometimes they don’t have even one square edge. Go back and think of how the first guy put on his miter track. He didn’t measure anything, but he knew, I’m guessing that his miter slot was square to his saw blade. He place the aluminum miter bar on “kinda” straight, and used his saw blade to make it absolutely straight to the blade, well probably within .002 anyhow if he is set up part way accurate.

Anyhow back to this guy, he said he used it to get a STRAIGHT EDGE on a rough board. my #1 use, I only cut an occasional taper. Plus he is using Maple, a very HARD wood for a fence. Plywood is great for a base, but unless you double or triple it up in small pieces of ply and it can easily distort, hardwood is mo betta for fences.

Both are good sleds, really the same with a difference of only a few things. Both of them are based on the Rockler tapering jig, around 100 bux I believe the Rockler is MDF? Guaranteed the ply and hardwood model would last longer, and I think I spent 30 bux on parts for mine.

Another completely different way to use the TS for tapers, especially if you want all 4 sides tapered is what I had always called a “box jig” This guy gives some info, though he assumes you know the positioning for the pivot. It really isn’t that hard, you set the pivot after sitting the leg in a position where you like the angle. In using the box there isn’t a need to tape the section that you just cut off, back on, because it’s not laying flat. Most box jigs are built for that specific project, sometimes they are re-used if you do that project again.

Choices, or as I say often, more than one way to skin this cat, but for overall use, and the bonus of being able to straighten at least one edge on wavy stock, the Rockler type flat jig/sled offers more firepower. None of them are hard, or expensive to make.

I was just about to close the You Tube page, and I spied Old George doing 4 sided tapers with a flat jig. Seemed like after talking about it, may as well show you what I was saying about taping parts back on. Contrary to how George shows you to cut #3, he and I differ..

I’ve had them slip doing them his way, so I tape back pieces on both cuts 3 and 4. Plus I fit it, and wrap painters tape around both after sizing them, they stay still if you grasp them firmly and HOLD on while you tape it. Neither of us is wrong, his way is a minute faster, but I will probably never make a goof, his could slip. I’m not even going to talk about a possible safety consideration. I don’t want to waste wood, and have to re-make a leg, especially when I have a matching set of 3. Yes you can go back and do the same set up. Is there room for error, you betcha.

-- Think safe, be safe

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

745 posts in 626 days


#7 posted 06-21-2018 04:35 AM

Bandit does it old school, and he is modest. With the TS jigs you can almost throw the wood at the saw, what he does is very good, but he has learned some skillz that allow him to use hand tools, there is a learning curve. But I cannot argue with him the tools cost less, and the learning is that enjoyable pastime we always read about :-)

But to be sure, I probably spent more time writing up my first entry, than he did making those legs.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Rich's profile

Rich

3177 posts in 641 days


#8 posted 06-21-2018 04:37 AM

If you have a jig that gives you the correct angle for the taper, then just sneak up on it. Cut proud of the line and tap the fence over bit by bit until you nail the line you’re looking for. After that, the rest of the tapers will be right on with that setting. Only if you are doing a four sided taper will you have to worry about changing anything, but even then, the only change will be to put a spacer block at the foot of the taper. The rest of the setup will stay the same.

I don’t mess with fancy tapering jigs. I use makeshift ones based on the dimensions of the leg and the taper I want. All you need to know is the dimensions of the top of the leg, what you want it to taper down to, and the length of that taper. The rest is just a couple of pieces of scrap away. I save them to re-use. In general it’s the taper that matters to me for the design, so if I go from a 1-1/2” square leg down to a 7/8” foot (like the one in the photo below that I used to taper the legs on my mesquite table project), then build something the same height but with a 1-3/4” leg, I want it to taper down to 1-1/8”, not 7/8”. But even if I changed my mind and went for a different taper, it takes maybe 10 minutes to throw together another jig.

Pretty fancy, huh?

Not fancy at all, lol, but it did its job in the creation of this beautiful piece:

That’s good enough for me, and it didn’t cost a dime. All made out of scrap.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Rich

3177 posts in 641 days


#9 posted 06-21-2018 04:51 AM


Bandit does it old school, and he is modest.

- therealSteveN

LOL. You don’t know Bandit too well.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Rich

3177 posts in 641 days


#10 posted 06-21-2018 05:00 AM


Already mentioned, this jig Is pretty quick to make for cheap.

[...]

Yes you can go back and do the same set up. Is there room for error, you betcha.

My goodness. Did you rob the Adderall supply at work again?


At the top of the leg write left front, or LF, go around and mark each one. Cut the inner portions, and leave the outer ones alone, and you are done. Remember you can cover it up with pencil lines, because you have to sand, and it will all go away, at least whatever is left after the cuts.

- therealSteveN

Or, you can do it the right way and cut your mortises first, while the leg is still square and will fit your jig, or sit perfectly in your hollow chisel mortiser. After that, it’s pretty much impossible to taper the wrong face.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View diverlloyd's profile

diverlloyd

2853 posts in 1909 days


#11 posted 06-21-2018 12:19 PM

Good job Rich 3 posts 2 of which are belittling and the other is a waste of time. 10 minutes per throw away jig that will also put your fingers closer to the blade. Or as you so stated “you could do it the right way” and spend the 60 minutes at most to make the fancy jig. Anything after making 6 of your jigs is costing you time. The jig also can be used to straighten the edge of a board. Now there’s no need to use the jointer. So the fancy jig has now saved time, money, floor space and maybe even a couple fingers.

I have made two of the fancy jigs one 4’ and one 6’ both together cost me about 45 minutes of time and a whopping $5 for some tee bolts and knobs. And all the wood was scrap I had laying around. I have made about 500 different tapered and straight cuts on them with no issues. So just half of those are straightening a edge(250) and half of the left over are repeated angles(125). So with 125 non repeated cuts that would require separate no fancy jigs at 5 minutes per jig(I think your ten minutes is a bit heavy) that would be 625 minutes minus the 45 for the fancy jig. 580 minutes(9.66 hours) saved or double that for your time estimate. I like math it saves me time and money just like the fancy jigs.

Op if the jig you are using isn’t working the way you expect it to build the “fancy” jig it’s going to save you in the long run. It will also be less aggravating then what you are dealing with.

View Rich's profile

Rich

3177 posts in 641 days


#12 posted 06-21-2018 01:39 PM


Good job Rich 3 posts 2 of which are belittling and the other is a waste of time. 10 minutes per throw away jig that will also put your fingers closer to the blade.

- diverlloyd

My fingers get nowhere near the blade at any time. Ever heard of push sticks? The rest of your “analysis” is pure nonsense. We’re talking about a table with four legs — eight cuts — not psychedelic cutting boards. Your needs are obviously unique. Most of my work is fine furniture, cabinetry and interior and custom entry doors.

The OP is making a coffee table. it also requires only eight cuts. Now, if he were to choose to do a psychedelic inlay for the top…

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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bandit571

20449 posts in 2735 days


#13 posted 06-21-2018 03:58 PM

One can do all the tapers, right on the jointer ( BTDT)....

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

View jbay's profile

jbay

2421 posts in 951 days


#14 posted 06-21-2018 04:56 PM

I usually take a piece of scrap wood, lay the leg on the long edge of the scrap where I want to cut the taper.
Trace the leg onto the scrap and cut it out. Then I use the scrap for the sled. I normally just hold the leg in the jig, but if your not comfortable doing that, you will have to figure a way to clamp it to the sled.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

745 posts in 626 days


#15 posted 06-21-2018 06:16 PM


Or, you can do it the right way and cut your mortises first, while the leg is still square and will fit your jig, or sit perfectly in your hollow chisel mortiser. After that, it s pretty much impossible to taper the wrong face.

- Rich

To ASS/U/ME in this age of Kreg jigs, and Dominoes that a M&T joint will be cut is presumptuous at best. Besides he already stated it was no taper till past the skirt. Many people only need the flat portion to use either a Kreg, or a Domino, so I guess you are also telling them they are WRONG. If I were going to do a M&T I would use a mortiser most likely, and yes I would make my Mortises while the leg was still square stock, but that is how I do them. I cannot state that doing it differently isn’t more comfortable for others though, and you probably shouldn’t either. I still would have picked my legs for grain, and color long before cutting my M&T’s though, so you will probably say my marking them is stupid now, go ahead. I’m not likely going to change what I do or say because some person doesn’t like me, that is your problem.

Make an attempt to look at all of this as fun, and also realize how you do something isn’t necessarily the “right” way, or especially the only way to get it done. Whatever a person does to get the result they want is usually going to be considered the “right” way for them.

-- Think safe, be safe

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