Quick & Easy Tapers

I’m about to wrap up work on an office that’s almost fully paneled with sapele. There is wainscoting, a full wall of bookcases, a paneled fireplace wall with step-back cupboards flanked to both sides and a couple of angled bookcases. Plus, there’s a door to case. Earlier drywall work pushed out from the existing door frame, so I had to build out the frame to make the new casing sit flat. I needed quick and easy tapers.

To shim the frame out to where it needed to be, the top was 1/4″ thick and the frame tapered at the bottom – 80″ in length overall – to nothing. That’s not a piece easily cut by hand, with a bandsaw or table saw, unless you know a trick. It’s not really a trick as much as it is a method to get the work done.

Just Like Tapered Legs

Step one is to taper a wider board to match your needs. For me, that’s a job for my jointer. The key is that your board is four-squared with the long edges parallel.

In this case I adjusted the depth of cut at 1/4″ using a scrap, and was set to go.

The process is almost the same as tapering a table leg at your jointer. (If you’re unfamiliar with this process, watch the video here.) The difference is instead of flipping the part at a predetermined point and rocking the end down to create a taper, you simply set the start of your board on the outfeed side of your knives. (You can see this in the opening photo shown above.)

The jointer cuts nothing until you begin to move through your cut. The amount being removed continues to increase in thickness until you reach the end of your board – that’s where you’re cutting away the full thickness (1/4″). One edge of your board now has the exact taper you need.

At your table saw, set the fence so that on the narrow end of your board you’re feathering the cut (shown at the left below). Continue your pass throughout the length of your board. At the trailing end of the board, the piece is 1/4″ thick (shown at the right) because the board was parallel at the outset. The cutoff is tapered perfectly.

I pinned my two tapered pieces to the door frame – I repeated the steps for a second filler – filled in the top with a 1/4″-thick piece and added the corner blocks and fluted casing to the door. That’s a simple method for perfectly tapered fillers.

— Glen D. Huey

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