A Much Safer Table Saw Taper Jig

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Introduction: A Much Safer Table Saw Taper Jig

About: Woodworking gadget fan, photographer, husband, cyclist, kayaking SUP riding real ale drinker. More of this stuff is over at my Instagram.

My neighbour who knows I do a bit of woodworking asked me to cut some angles in some wood, he is making a dovecote. To do it properly I made an angle jig... or at least I thought I had made it properly, I posted a picture of it on a woodworking Reddit sub.
A lot of the comments ranged from 'looks a little dangerous' to 'oh my, I fear for your life'...

I decided to make a better, safer version. I'm really pleased how it came out, it is also more functional.

Supplies

A piece of 18 mm ply (sized to your table saw).
1 or 2 pieces of wood for mounting the clamps to.
2 x 8 mm coach bolts.
2 x 8 mm nuts.
2 x Bessey Horizontal Hold-Down Self-Adjusting Toggle Clamp
Some screws and glue to hold it together

Table saw
Angle grinder with metal cutting disc
Router mounted in table, 12 and 8 mm router bits

Step 1: Base T-slot and Bolts

Not having any t-bolts to hand I need to make my own, I took a couple of 8 mm coach bolts, trimming off the sides with an angle grinder gave me perfect t-bolts.
The reason for squaring off the bolt head is so that it doesn't turn in the slot when you tighten it down (during use).

Next was to cut a receiving slot into the baseplate.

With the 12 mm router bit I cut a slot, this slot needs to be just over the depth of the head of the bolt.
When cutting the slot you need to stop it short of both sides, to do this I pencilled two mark on the router table fence, this allowed me to plunge the wood about 30 mm from the first side and stop before the other.

Now, without moving the router table fence, swap out the bit for the smaller 8 mm bit. Not moving the fence ensures the next slot is perfectly centred on the previous one. This second slot also needs to stop before the ends and is for the bolt to pass through the baseplate.

Don't change the router bit... You'll need it in a moment.

Step 2: Making and Mounting the Runner

One of my ways to make the jig safer was to attach it to a runner, eliminating the chance of the jig moving away or worse nearer to the blade.

I needed to make a runner that was tight but not too tight that it couldn't slide.

Using a piece of hardwood (sorry don't know the type) I cut a strip to the correct width.
I used a zero clearance insert in my saw as the next cut was going to be narrower than the gap in the normal insert. If you don't have a zero clearance insert, they are pretty easy to make, mine is just 12 mm MDF.

The second cut was to trim the runner down to just below the depth of the t-slot, you want to do this so the baseplate will sit squarely on the saw table.

To attach the baseplate to the runner, space the runner slightly off the bottom of the t-slot, I used a couple of thin strips of wood but in the past I've used washers. So long as you can raise the runner above the level of the table that will work.
Add a couple of drops of superglue (CA glue) to the top of the runner, both ends and in the middle. Coat the rest of the runner with wood glue.
Now raise the blade as high as it will go, you'll use this to align the baseplate. Holding the baseplate against the blade lower it to the runner, press it down to allow the superglue to grab.
Carefully lift the baseplate and flip over, you now want to drill a few countersunk holes in the runner, finally secure the runner with some screws.

Step 3: Hold Down Bar

The clamp hold down bar is next, I made two of these. The first one will have the clamps screwed into and this was made of hardwood (maple) and the second was just a riser, this was made of a piece of pine.

Both pieces were 845 mm x 65 mm x 18 mm.

These pieces need slots cut in them to allow for the bolts.
Start by centring up the bar with the router bit, then cut I used the same stop marks on the fence to allow me to plunge the wood onto the router. To make the slot all the way through I made 3 or 4 passes.

Step 4: DIY Hand Wheels

I had originally planned to use a spanner to tighten down the bar but I tried this a couple of times and it was dreadful.

With this in mind I determined to make some handwheels.

I took some maple hardwood and cut a couple of 50 mm squares.
Onto these squares I marked out the outline of the 8 mm nuts. I then carefully chiselled the outline, clearing out the middle, a couple more goes around the outline took it to the depth of the nut. You'll need to drill out a hole though the dead centre of the cutout, this is a clearance hole for the bolt.

To make the handwheel more comfortable I took off the corners with a 19 mm forstner bit.

As you can see in the video the wheel spins very easily.

I will be making my own handwheels in the future, so easy, cheap and completely configurable to your needs.

Step 5: Clamp Bar

With the clamp bars cut and slotted next was to add the clamps and sacrificial end stop.

The end stop is easy, just take a small piece of scrap and screw it to the end of clamp bar. This stop will allow you to make repeatable length cuts it also enhances the safety helping to stop kickbacks.

I had to make a guess as to where to place the clamps but as these are only screwed down they could be moved in the future if not in the correct location.

As you can see in the 8th picture when the blade is at its highest point it just clears the underside of the clamp. I would love to say this was as designed but it was a happy fluke

In the last picture you can see the riser bar, this is necessary if you have a taller piece that needs cutting. Just remove the clamp bar, put the riser underneath and reattach the clamp bar.

These Bessey clamps are amazing, within reason they can automatically adjust for the height of the clamping. With a 60 mm clamping distance and 40 mm height adjustment, along with the riser bar there is a huge range of sizes this jig will accommodate.

Step 6: Taper Cuts

The main usage for this jig will be for putting the classic double tapers onto table and cabinet legs.

The first cut is made and then the piece is rotated 90º, by ensuring the edge is against the clamp bar and the end is against the end stop a perfect double taper can be achieved.

In the last image you can see the maximum cutting angle, this is about 18º.

Step 7: Vampire Spikes

Hitting all four sides with a tight taper gets you an incredibly sharp spike... Good luck out there Van Helsing.

Step 8: Straight Edge

Another use for the jig is to cut a straight edge on to a piece of wood that can't be run against the fence.

The clamps hold the piece so it can be run through the saw without the need for a straight edge on the other side. Perfect if you don't have a jointer.

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    18 Comments

    0
    JVB-woodworker
    JVB-woodworker

    11 months ago

    Thanks. I plan to make one of these.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Nice, I would love to see your take on it, stick some pictures up, when you're done 👍🙂

    0
    nedchurch
    nedchurch

    11 months ago

    Yes! I am going to make one! This is way better than my homemade jig similar to your version 1. I end up with 2 clamps and scraps of wood to keep everything lined up and prevent the work from flying off the table. I may fabricate the hold down clamps to save money and work out a way of adding some sort of measuring system built in.
    Thanks for sharing.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Go for it, you'll be amazed how much safe you feel making cuts on the V2 jig. You'll start making super fine, delicate tapers.
    Making your own hold down clamps would certainly save a bunch of cash as these Bessey clamps were expensive. One thing I would say is that the Bessey ones are automatic height adjustment (within reason) and they hold very well.
    As for measurement, I tend to just put a pencil mark on the hold down bar and align to that.
    I would be interested to see your take on it 🙂

    0
    DavidF15
    DavidF15

    11 months ago

    What's the purpose of the T-bolt grinding? It sounds like you've got a 8mm slot for the bolt, and a 12mm wide slot for the head, and you've ground the heads to some intermediate diameter. It doesn't seem like they'd fit through an 8mm slot.

    (I'd be using 1/4"-20 hardware in the US.)

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    David, the bolt head was originally 20 mm across.

    0
    DavidF15
    DavidF15

    Reply 11 months ago

    Ok -- I was confused. I thought you were going for drop-in T-bolts, but you insert them from the bottom. Then the ground 12mm faces in the 12mm slots keep them from turning as you tighten the knobs. Thanks.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    David, correct and correct.
    Ground down faces through the bottom slot to stop them spinning.
    FYI, the DIY handwheel tightens them seriously well.

    0
    Ther Mister
    Ther Mister

    Tip 11 months ago

    Your Version 1 is a standard design for taper cutting though I would make the wood piece riding the fence longer. But I do agree that your Version 2 is much safer and similar to the one I made and prefer. I would suggest that the table saw be fitted with a zero-clearance throat plate as you don't want the skinny waste piece that is cut off to slide back and suddenly wedge itself between in the throat plate's opening by the spinning blade. Well done on your construction details.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Agreed, V1 did the job but it was always a little sketchy, V2 is much safer as well as being able to put a straight edge on piece of non straight wood.

    0
    dcg01
    dcg01

    11 months ago

    I had something similar to your version 1. Didn't much care for it. This is far better - thank you!

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Version 1 did the job but V2 is so much better.

    0
    silviavp
    silviavp

    11 months ago on Introduction

    Great! Your version 2 is perfect for my needs. Thanks a lot for this nice tutorial.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Hi, if you have any further questions, comment here. I always read my comments.

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    11 months ago

    Very nice. I've needed to build one of these for quite some time, so it's great to see the details of yours. Thank you!

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you, I'm so glad I built this. So much safer than my previous version and MUCH safer than just trying to run it through free hand.