Tapered Legs on the Jointer

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  • Tapered Legs on the Jointer

    About a year ago I promised a write-up on tapering legs using the jointer. I'm not quick, but I got it done.

    All of the following assumes you've milled your legs to size and have your joinery figured out. In this case I'm using sliding dovetails for the apron to legs, so I did all of that milling first.


    The legs I'm doing are 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 red oak, I'm using a 5/16 depth of cut on the jointer. You can change the depth of cut if you find you're not comfortable with that big of a bite, you'll just have to make more passes. (fair warning tho', red oak isn't the nicest stuff to work with when trying to do legs this way. It sounds like a war zone while you're milling.)

    Step 1: Marking your stops:

    You'll need to mark the top of the leg where you want the jointer cut to stop and then mark the fence just in front of the cutterhead. In my case I marked the fence before I lowed the infeed, it's not really a big deal as this isn't rocket science.


    Step 2: Making the initial cut:

    You'll want to make the initial cut 'foot first' into the jointer head and feed until your stop lines match up.


    Take care to make the first cut on the proper side of the leg as it will allow you to have a solid face against the fence when you flip the leg for the second cut. You'll see in the following picture that I place a groove face down and one against the fence. When I rotate the workpiece to make the second cut, what is now the top of the leg will end up against the fence giving me solid support for the second cut.


    After you complete this cut, you should end up with a leg that looks something like this.


    Step 3: Making the tapering cuts

    (I apologize that I didn't take pics of this part, I'll try to explain it the best I can and if need be I'll take pics and insert them here later)

    For this next cut, you'll need to turn the leg end for end with the cut side down and set the square top of the leg on the outfeed table. You'll want to have the end of the previous cut on the outfeed so that the leg straddles the cutterhead. Let the foot drop onto the infeed table, there should be ample clearance for the cutterhead in the 'hollow' of the previous cut.

    Make 2 passes this way, both times being sure to set the square leg top on the outfeed before starting the cut.


    After 2 passes "head first" thru the jointer, you should end up with a leg that looks similar to this:


    repeat for the second side and you should end up with something like the following:


    Step 4: Repeat 3 more times

    and you'll have all 4 legs


    That's all there is to it, pretty straight-up, quick, and simple if you ask me. My biggest piece of advice is to be careful with what wood you're using. I did white oak this way last year and it seemed to go a lot easier than using red oak today. Red oak has such a tendency to blow out that it can be rather scary making the cuts.

    Good luck, be safe and have fun!!!!

    • cgallery
      cgallery commented
      Editing a comment
      That is pretty slick!

    • gaj1967
      gaj1967 commented
      Editing a comment
      It's funny how some things just time themselves. Today I came across this video on tapering legs with a jointer and then tonight I came across this tutorial.


      Now if only I had a jointer I could try it.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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