There's A Table in There Somewhere! #4: Tapering the Legs

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Blog entry by CedarFreakCarl posted 06-05-2009 01:53 AM 4556 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Basic Design & Milling the Aprons Part 4 of There's A Table in There Somewhere! series Part 5: Cutting the Apron Tenons »

For any of you that were following this, I’d like to apologize for the time gap between #3 & #4, but I had to get my garden planted and also do a little work for the community. I’ll blog the community work later.

Anyhow, now that all the stock for the legs has been milled square, it’s time to taper the legs. The legs on this particular table are rather large, so I had to come up with an alternate method to the table saw. I had recently read an article in one of the wood magazines that used a thickness planer and the bandsaw to taper the legs. I figured I’d give it a shot.

After marking the tapers on the rough stock. I went to the band saw to cut the rough tapers. After making sure the BS blade is absolutely square to the table surface, I cut on the outside of the line by about 1/32”. Be sure to stay away from the line. 1/16” is no problem. More is better than too close because if you dip too close or into the line, you’ll decrease the flat area to the top of the taper where the cheeks of the tenon will rest. I cut too close on one and had to decrease the width of the apron by about 1/2”. In this particular case, it worked out ok because I wanted more clearance for ones legs when sticking them under the table. But beware!
Rough taper is cut on the bandsaw...
Next, I took a peice of 4×6” pine that had some termite damage and cut a notch for the leg to rest in, thereby creating a planing sled to mill the taper. This doesn’t have to be pretty, but must be absolutely square and flat on the outer dimensions. The cutout for the leg doesn’t have to be perfectly shaped to the leg, but must consistently cradle it so that it does not move while traveling through the planer.

The tapered face of the leg needs to be parallel to the top surface, maybe 1/16” or so above the top. As the fat end is put into the planer, we’ll need to trim the front of the sled down to 1/4” or so below the leg so that the planer rollers will pull on the leg and not the sled.

Next, run this thiing through the planer until the face of the taper is planed to where you want it. Be sure the head is locked and just leave it like it is. Rotate it one time do the other face. Repeat this 3 more times for the other three legs.

I couldn’t believe how easy and repeatable this method is. If your stock is good and square and consistently dimensioned, this is really a piece of cake. What a set of legs!

After setup, this process went so fast, that I went ahead and cut the mortises on my mortiser.

Next comes cutting the tenons on the apron stock. Thanks, Carl.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

4 comments so far

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4729 days

#1 posted 06-05-2009 03:53 AM

Progress! Can’t wait to see the finished product!
Thank for sharing.

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5739 days

#2 posted 06-05-2009 05:23 AM

Great progress. Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4781 days

#3 posted 06-05-2009 10:12 AM

Truly wonderful grain on that leg. Wish I had some of that here, should look great when it,s done.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1939 posts in 5011 days

#4 posted 06-06-2009 02:50 AM

Well that’s one way to taper legs without a tapering jig!! Smart idea!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

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