Furnishing a Sauna Suite #16: Capturing a Shelf Inside Tapered Legs

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 04-02-2021 09:53 PM 755 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Bench Back Rest Slats Part 16 of Furnishing a Sauna Suite series Part 17: Vanity Base - Post and Frame Construction »

Lots of Other Projects

I set the sauna furniture aside to work on other projects. I built a similar table to this with a drawer for my step daughter as a wedding present, configured my wife’s new fishing kayak, and made some modifications to the fishing configuration for my Wood Duck Double kayak I built last year. With those projects completed, I’m in the home stretch of completing the sauna suite furniture.

Cutting Shelf Mortises

I’ve made four of these tables and placing a shelf within the tapered legs provides both strength and utility.

This shelf holds the fan that cools us off in the changing/shower room after a sauna. This photo shows me experimenting with a height that looks good and is functional. I settled on 10” from the floor to the top of the shelf.

Notice the relationship between the taper on the leg and the mortise that receives the shelf.

I used a mortising machine to cut the mortises.

The mortises are cut from both sides. The material between the mortise and the inside edge is removed by the taper cut.

Building a Tapering Jig

It’s worth building a simple jig to make the 8 tapered cuts required for a set of 4 legs.

Draw out the taper on a piece of 1/4” plywood and screw 3/4” wood cleats to hold the leg in position for the rip cut on the table saw. This is an incredibly accurate way to cut a tapered leg.

NOTE: Be sure to visualize which face of the leg to taper first. I lay it out so that when the first face is tapered, the subsequent face is towards the bottom. This allows me to rotate that face clockwise for the next taper cut and I’ve always got a flat surface against the bottom of the jig and the positioning cleat. This one is worth pondering before you make each cut…

Cleaning Up the Mortises

I used a sharp chisel to clean up the mortises. The mortising machine leaves some material to remove since it’s a round drill bit operating within a sharp, square housing. This doesn’t take much work to clean up if your chisel is sharp.

The legs look a lot better with a taper. There was too much bulk for the size of the table prior to the taper.

This photo shows the final location for the table. My Dad turned the bowl from spalted maple. All that remains is to produce top cleats, sand to 120, glue it together, , peg the tenons, clean the glue squeeze-out, sand to 220, and varnish.


Build a simple vanity base with inset panel sides and doors.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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