Tapered legs on a side table

A tapered leg is a popular design technique used in many types of furniture including desks, tables, dressers, and chairs. This technique gives furniture an elegant and refined look and is commonly seen in Shaker and Country style furniture. Tapers are relatively easy and can be cut in a variety of ways. This video will walk you through how to cut taper legs using a table saw or bandsaw.

This video was produced for its free video library by The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. The Center is a nonprofit, international woodworking school dedicated to providing the best possible education in wood craftsmanship and design.

How To Cut Taper Legs with a Table Saw or Bandsaw with Tim Rousseau

In this video, Tim Rousseau, an instructor at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, demonstrates how to cut a straight tapered table leg. There's a lot of ways to taper legs in a workshop. This video will show you two ways that are popular with new woodworkers.

There are some considerations to think about before jumping in:

#1 – Decide where you want the taper to meet the apron of the table. Getting the intersection to meet the bottom edge of the apron is tricky to nail in the beginning. We find it's best for the taper to end a bit before the apron. This way the joinery stays at 90 degrees.

#2 - How much you want to reduce the leg from top to bottom. Often, we'll take the taper off the inside of the legs, so it gives some stance to the furniture. Tapering on the outside of the legs tends to give furniture a bit more of a tippy feeling.

To start, take your leg stock and determine which pieces are the front and rear legs. Draw on the end of your stock showing the top and orientation of the leg using a triangle system. At the foot, you'll want to note where the remaining leg is going to be. Then use a square to draw out on the end grain of those legs the actual remaining foot.

The band saw is a great tool for safely cutting tapers into legs, it does require some cleanup of the cut though. When you're at the band saw the first thing you'll do is check the drift of the band saw and set the fence, so you know when you run a board up against the fence it's passing through and not pulling off the fence. Once cut, a couple passes with a handplane or a run over the jointer with take care of any left-over material.

The table saw can be a very effective way to straight taper a leg but, it can also be a dangerous way. Especially if you're using a jig that does not hold the component as it goes past the blade. So, we recommend to always make sure your jig is holding the component in it as it travels by. At the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, we use an adjustable tapering sled with a miter track slot.

Check out the video above for a step-by-step walk through of how we cut straight taper table legs using both the band saw and table saw.

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