Taper cutting is a necessity when you need to make tapered legs for a table or a chair.
The best tool for taper cutting is a table saw.
In this guide, I'll show you how you can easily cut tapers on a table saw without a custom jig.
Things You'll Need
- Table Saw
- Masking Tape
- Wood or MDF
Step-by-Step Process of Cutting a Taper on a Table Saw
Begin by placing the wood to be taper cut on your work surface.
To make the taper cut you need to attach a piece of scrap wood to the end of the wood piece you wish to taper cut.
The width of this piece of scrap wood determines the taper you get from the cut.
To do this, take a scrap piece of wood.
Measure and make the desired taper thickness onto this wood.
Here, we will consider a taper of ¾".
Cut the scrap wood along this length so that its final dimension is ¾" x ¾" x 1".
Once the wood of desired thickness is cut, stick it onto the edge of the wood you wish to taper cut.
It's safer to screw/nail them together, however, it will leave a mark on your wood.
In this case, I've used masking tape to bind them together.
Lay the wood to be cut lengthwise between the blade and the rip fence.
In case the wood to be taper cut is longer than the rip fence, you'll need to use a spacer board between the fence and the wood to be taper cut.
This is because the scrap wood won't be touching the rip fence in that case.
The spacer here is a piece of wood longer than the rip fence of the saw that can support the whole length of the wood to be taper cut.
The spacer board should be straight.
Place the spacer in between the wood to be cut and the rip fence.
Place the wood to be taper cut along with the spacer and make sure the end near the blade is in contact with the spacer.
Adjust the rip fence such that the table saw blade just touches the edge that goes in first.
This way, when the wood is cut, the top width will remain unchanged, and the bottom width will be ¾" less, giving us the taper we need.
Plug in the table saw and turn it on. Let it reach full speed.
Slowly begin sliding the wood forward. Make use of a push stick for safety.
Keep the wood pressed down and also against the spacer board.
As the top of the width is touching the spacer and the bottom of the width has a scarp wood attached to it, the finished cut will be a tapered wood with a taper of exactly 1/8th of an inch.
Turn off the saw after the cut has been made and sand the edge if needed.
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Tips for Accuracy
- While using the masking tape, avoid using too much as it will add to the total width of the wood and make the cut inaccurate.
- Align the mark with the saw blade before cutting to ensure correct and straight edges.
- Check the saw blade for missing teeth and splits on a regular basis.
- If you are using wet wood or treated lumber, use a blade that's appropriate for that purpose.
- Use a sharp blade with an appropriate number of teeth. More teeth on the saw blade means better cut but takes longer to cut and large teeth means quick but rough cuts.
Tips for Safety
- Never stay right behind or too close to the running blade to avoid injury in case of kickback. Kickback is extremely dangerous and must be prevented at all costs.
- When using a table saw, You should not use gloves. In addition, remove any rings, bracelets, or other clothing that might become entangled in the table saw or material.
- When cutting, stand to one side of the saw blade; do not allow anyone to stand directly in front of the saw blade while it is running.
- Don't remove or hold down a piece of wood by reaching across the saw blade.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
Can table saws cut at angles?
Table saws are suitable for ripping lumber, which requires making long cuts parallel to the grain. The miter gauge allows your table saw to make various complex cuts that would generally be reserved for a compound miter saw or radial-arm saw.
What does a taper jig do?
A tapering jig is a woodworking jig that cuts progressively deeper cuts parallel to the grain along a workpiece. For example, table legs are frequently made with tapering jigs, with the taper cut into the two sides of the leg that face the inside of the table.
Can I use a table saw instead of a jointer?
You can edge joint on your table saw with the addition of a shop-made fence. However, steel jointer knives may struggle with artificial materials like plywood, while carbide table saw blades do not.