making taper cuts using a table saw video screenshot

Cutting tapers or angled wood pieces is a pretty common technique in woodworking and there are a few different ways to go about it. This video walks you through how to make taper or angled cuts using a table saw and a jig.

Skillbuilder Video

How To Make Safe Taper Cuts Using A Table Saw - Video Transcript

Cutting tapers is a pretty common technique in woodworking. It means you're making a rip cut along a board at an angle to the board's edges rather than parallel to them, like this cut right here. Often you'll need to rip tapers when making legs to get more slender from top to bottom, like the shaker and table or the angle back slats on this outdoor chair. Now, you need to use a jig to cut taper safely on the table saw or band saw because you're feeding the wood at an angle to the blade.

For many woodworkers, the jig they use for tapering looks something like this. It's basically two arms that hinge on one end, so you can change the degree of taper and then lock in the angle. There's two big limitations to jigs like this. For one, these workpieces tend to be pretty narrow and it can be hard to know how to hold them against the jig when you're pushing everything through without getting your push stick or worse your hand too close to the blade. It's inconvenient or downright dangerous.

I think there's a problem with physics here too and I'll show you what I mean. If you imagine my thumb being the force of the spinning blade pushing back on the workpieces you feed it through, there's a tendency of these jigs to want to pull away from the rip fence and that can lead to a kickback situation. Well, there are better, safer, tapering jig options out there like this one from Rockler. It functions completely differently from these old hinge style jigs.

This bar underneath rides in the saw's miter slot so the jig doesn't rely on the rip fence at all. It always tracks parallel to the blade through the cut. The workpiece rests on the jig's base instead of directly on the sawed table to help mobilize it. An adjustable fence supports the wood from behind and two metal hold down clamps lock it in place securely.

Setting up this jig to make a taper cut it simple, start by marking the face of your workpiece with the angle you want to cut, and then wrap those layout lines around to the edge and end. Then set the workpiece on the jig base and adjust it, so its layout marks align with the edge of the jig closest to the blade. Now, carefully slide the jig's adjustable fence over and against it and tighten down the fences to star knobs. Make sure the back end of the workpiece is flush against the fences adjustable metal stop. When the whole down clamps are set and tight, start the saw and push the jig through the cut.