How to taper Legs?

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Forum topic by andy6601 posted 09-29-2011 07:38 PM 3906 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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91 posts in 2706 days

09-29-2011 07:38 PM

I am green lumberjock and I want to build a shaker style table, I was wondering what is the best and safest way to taper the legs to give the table that elegant look that when it is done right looks really good. I would like to hear both ways, how to do it by hand and also how to do it using power tools. I kind of have an idea as to how to do it by hand, but not so much on how to do it with power tools. Anyway just want some input.

16 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7064 posts in 2836 days

#1 posted 09-29-2011 07:53 PM

You could either buy or make a table saw or band saw jig. They would hold the board at a set or predetermined angle that would allow you to push the piece “straight” thru the blade. I guess you could also free hand it thru the band saw and clean up with a plane or sander.

View scrabby's profile


42 posts in 3424 days

#2 posted 09-29-2011 08:09 PM

Here is a good thread on the subject:

-- Jim, North Vancouver, BC

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 3014 days

#3 posted 09-29-2011 08:14 PM

You may (can’t believe I’m saying this) go to the New Yankee Workshop DVDs. Norm did a couple of shows where he tapered legs, 1 with a table saw and 1 with a band saw. There are a number of ways to do this and they require careful marking – especially when doing 2 or 4 tapers on a leg.

What he did works and you get to see it – better.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6349 posts in 3432 days

#4 posted 09-29-2011 08:19 PM

You start at the thigh, and work down to the feet…..there….a tapered leg…

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3209 days

#5 posted 09-29-2011 09:47 PM

The best way is using a jointer.
There was a video on this I think I saw on Popular Woodworking.

Amazingly simple two step process.

Found it; heres the link:

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3161 days

#6 posted 09-29-2011 10:08 PM

Pretty interesting Crank, think I’ll try that next time.

-- Life is good.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3306 days

#7 posted 09-29-2011 10:18 PM

I do all of my tapered legs on the table saw with a sled type jig. (I’ve never been comfortable with the “A”-frame adjustable jigs).

I second the suggestion that you look for a New Yankee Workshop DVD. I watched Norm do tapered legs many times and the process is fairly straightforward. Once you’ve seen it done, you should have few problems.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3550 days

#8 posted 09-29-2011 11:52 PM

I have used the adjustable A frame jig that Sawkerf mentioned and it was quite easy for me to use, which means anyone in woodworking could do it.

They are quite inexpensive and if you are not making tons of furniture and only occasionally taper, for me that was the way to go.

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2862 days

#9 posted 09-30-2011 12:31 AM

When I first saw this jig I thought to myself “I have been saved” It is a great jig for repeat cuts, is very accurate, safe and versatile. Thank you Charles Neil:

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Mike's profile


406 posts in 2925 days

#10 posted 09-30-2011 12:57 AM

Here is a project that I made with tapered legs. Hope this helps:

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3306 days

#11 posted 09-30-2011 12:58 AM

Cato -

Yeah, I’ve had 2-3 of the aluminum and a couple of home made taper cutting jigs and just never was very successful with them. On a woodworking show (NYW?), I saw a sled type jig with an adjustable fence and made a quick and dirty version using screws to position the fence. It worked like a dream…..........for me, anyway. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View thedude50's profile


3607 posts in 2716 days

#12 posted 09-30-2011 02:28 AM

i have the plans for a jig id share with you i bought a set of jig plans from a magazine they dont want me sharing but i dont mind pm me ill tell you how to d.l it its much safer than the a frame jigs hope this helps the plan comes with a video on how to use it

-- Please check out my new stores and

View bobsmyuncle's profile


110 posts in 2929 days

#13 posted 09-30-2011 03:40 AM

On the last set I did, I used the “planer” method. Worked great

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2913 days

#14 posted 09-30-2011 04:09 AM

I was taught to use the jointer…way back in college I guess. I don’t make many but have made some of them. Be really careful using this method because you have to pull the guard back and lower the stock onto the cutter head. measure and mark and lower the wood carefully. Start near the small end and work up to a few inches from the top end.

View andy6601's profile


91 posts in 2706 days

#15 posted 09-30-2011 02:43 PM

Wow thanks for all of the advice, I guess there is more than one way to skin a tapered leg (ha ha). I have a bandsaw (a crappy one) I will give it shot and tape the off cuts back on and give that a try. Also since I do not own a table saw. Thanks again everyone.

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