Saturday, April 8, 2017

Tapering Legs with a Miter Saw -- Woodworking Tip #20

To an open mind the woodshop is a cornucopia of novelty.  A new approach, an improved jig, a shift in methodology all provide considerable joy.  Tapering, as an example, is typically accomplished with a sliding jig on a table saw.  I would usually make a quick jig out of 3/4” plywood for the required angle...never did own one of those new-fangled adjustable tapering jigs. Given the commission, however, of making short solid maple tapered legs for a couch, the thought of pushing a small block of wood into a table saw blade set 4” high did not seem appealing. The idea occurred to me of using a miter saw to cut the tapers as shown below:

Rather than rotating the blade to the desired angle, cut a guide board to the correct angle.  Use the horizontal vice to hold this piece firmly. The saw blade is simply locked on a 90º cut (see above photo). The leg stock is then placed against the scrap wood angle and secured with the vertical vice pressing down upon a wooden bridge between the leg stock and another scrap piece of such a height that the bridge is roughly horizontal.  With this set up cut one of every pair of tapers for however many legs you need.

The next step is to rotate the blade toward the left the number of degrees of the taper angle.  By flipping the guide board forward to back you can use it to set the blade precisely.  Clamp the guide board back in its original position adjusting it left or right as necessary.  Place the cut side against the guide board and cut the opposite side of each pair.  Really, this is not as hard as it sounds and becomes obvious when you do the set up.

Voilà have a short tapered leg.  Do realize that a sharp blade on the miter saw really helps as your machine struggles to cut through some 8” or so of hardwood!

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