Make a Tapering Jig
Many fine furniture projects call for tapered legs. While there are many methods that could be applied to create this classic design, the easiest way may be using a tapering jig for your table saw. A tapering jig allows you to adjust your tapered cuts to nearly any angle up to 15 degrees and gives you the ability to do so consistently.
Additionally, a tapering jig is both a very simple tool to build and one that you'll find useful for numerous projects.
- Woodworking: Easy
- Finishing: None
Time to Complete
- 1 hour
- Miter saw or circular saw
- Table saw
- Cordless drill or corded power drill
- Medium-sized woodworking clamps
- Tape measure
- 6' of pine, poplar or any other stock board, 1 x 3" or 1 x 4"
- 1 hinge, 3/4" x 2"
- 2 carriage bolts, 1/4" x 5"
- 2 flat washers, 1/4"
- 1 lock washer, 1/4"
- 1 wing nut, 1/4"
- 1 lock nut, 1/4"
- Deck screws, 1-1/4"
Cut Two Boards to Length
The first step is to cut two boards of equal length from your piece of stock. 30 inches is the ideal length for the two sides of this tapering jig, but if you want a longer or shorter jig, you can adjust your lengths accordingly. Just make sure that both boards are the same length.
Attach the Hinge
With both side boards cut to equal lengths, the next step is to attach the hinge to one end of the two boards. A 2" x 3/4" hinge works great for boards of this size. It's important that the hinge pin is parallel to the ends of the two boards so that the tapering jig will open and close smoothly.
Drill Holes for the Carriage Bolts
Next, use a cordless drill or power drill to drill a countersunk bolt hole through each side of the jig (parallel to the hinge pin but at the opposite end of the jig), as shown in the image above. This hole should be an inch up each sideboard from the base of the jig and be just large enough for the 1/4" diameter carriage bolt to pass through snugly.
After drilling the hole cleanly through the edges of each board, drill a countersink for each hole on the bottoms of each sideboard. Be sure that the countersinks are deep enough that the heads of the carriage bolts will not protrude from the bottom of the jig.
Insert the Bolts
With the holes and countersinks drilled in each side of the tapering jig, insert the carriage bolts through the holes and tap them into place, verifying that the heads of the carriage bolts are safely beneath the surface of the bottom of the two sides of the jig.
Build the Spreader Bracket
The tapering jig is held at the appropriate angle with a spreader bracket. To begin building this spreader bracket, cut a piece of 1x3 or 1x4 to 2" wide x 8" in length. Round over the edges with your jigsaw as shown in the image above.
Next, draw a pencil line down the long axis of the board at the center line, which should be one inch from each side. Then, using your cordless drill or power drill, make three 1/4" diameter holes, one at 1/2" in from each edge along the center line, and the third at 1" in from one edge, also on the center line.
Cut the Slot in the Bracket
In this next step, you'll need to cut a slot in the spreader bracket.
Using a pencil and straight edge, draw a line from the top edge of the center hole in the bracket to the top edge of the hole farthest away (on the opposite edge of the bracket). Then draw a parallel line between the bottom edges of these two holes.
Finally, using your jigsaw, cut along these two lines to create the slot in the tapering jig spreader bracket.
Attach the Lip
Before completing the tapering jig, there is one additional piece of stock that needs to be added to the left half of the jig. This piece of stock will actually push the board being tapered through the saw blade on your table saw.
Cut a 2" wide piece of stock from your 1x3 or 1x4 and, using your cordless drill or power drill, attach this piece to the left side of the jig, up one inch from the end of the board with a couple of deck screws. This board can be positioned flat or butted against the left edge (as shown in the image above).
Attach the Bracket
To complete the assembly of the tapering jig, attach the spreader bracket to the jig as follows:
Position the slot of the spreader bracket over the left carriage bolt and the hole over the right carriage bolt. Tap the bracket down into place. Next, add a flat washer and lock bolt onto the right carriage bolt. Tighten until the bracket is snug, but not so tight that it won't rotate on the bolt.
You should now be able to move the left bolt through the slot, widening and narrowing the tapering jig. If satisfied with the freedom of movement of the jig, attach a flat washer onto the left carriage bolt, followed by a lock washer and then a wing nut to secure.
Using Your Tapering Jig
To use your tapering jig, adjust the angle of the jig and tighten the wing nut. Position the board to be tapered firmly against the left side of the jig, with the end of the board against the lip at the bottom end of the jig (as shown in the image above).
Next, place the right-hand side of the jig against your table saw fence, then adjust the position of your fence so that you're cutting the taper at the desired width.
Hold the board against the jig and the jig against the fence and slide the entire apparatus through your saw blade. You should end up with a consistent, cleanly tapered board.