I have used my jointer to taper legs for the past eight years. I like the technique, especially its repeatability. If, however, you’re making a double-tapered leg (there is a second, smaller taper just at the foot), the jointer is not the best tool for the job. You could pull out your handsaw to trim away the bulk of the material, then finish up using a plane. But with four legs and four tapers per leg, I’m turning to my table saw and to a table saw jig.
If you’re cutting a four-sided tapered leg using your table saw, to complete the taper on the fourth face requires two distinct setups because the first angled face is against the fence when you make the fourth taper, which changes the angle of the taper. Another option is to be creative with the cutoff piece using it as a spacer.
The jig shown at the right is setup for two tapers. The first side aids in cutting the first three sides of each leg, then the jig is reversed and the second setup makes the last cut to keep the four faces identical. This is another reason that I enjoy tapering legs at my jointer – I’m not referring to making multiple passes and counting each pass so I can get the tapers to match. (If you’re not familiar with my technique, which I learned from someone else, you need to read the desk-on-frame article coming out next month.)
After the legs are tapered, a jig to cut the second taper is easy because the major angles of the leg’s faces do not change. The photo to the left shows the simple setup. One scrap of plywood, a makeshift fence and a stop at the foot does the trick. Because it’s such a small cut (shown below), there’s no need for a clamp to hold the legs in place.
As you would do when tapering the full leg using your table saw, do the layout work on one foot at its bottom and the ankle (where the cut terminates), position that foot to the base of the jig, then tack in your remaining jig parts. Then it’s snip, snip, snip , snip – four times for each leg, and you’re done. Double tapers are so easy once you have the major taper work complete. Plus, the extra taper on the legs catches your eye, especially when there is a cuff of tiger maple popping off the walnut background, as there is on my upcoming desk.
Build Something Great!