Introduction: Create Perfect Tapered Legs on a Jointer

About: I am an Active Duty Infantryman in the Army that started a woodworking business in 2016. I began with a focus on client work with the hopes of building up my shop. Just 3 years later, I have a very well equipp…

Hey everyone, my name is Jason from Bent's Woodworking. This is my first Instructable and I am really excited to share with all of you how you can make beautiful tapered legs quick and easy using nothing but your jointer. I recently built the dining table you see in the photo and needed to taper the legs because I was trying to achieve a more modern look. I knew that with the size of my legs, the table saw wasn't going to work. So, I did some research and found this technique being used. What was so shocking to me was just how simple it was. It will definitely be my go to technique from now on. So, let's go ahead and get into it!



Straight Edge, Square, or Ruler of some sort


Step 1: Start Marking Your Legs

(Ref Left Photo)

Once you have your leg to the desired dimensions, you can begin laying out your marks. This task only requires 2 marks. The first, is how far down from the top of the leg you want the taper to begin. This mark is only required on one face as it is used for a reference. Example, if you wanted your taper to begin 5" from the top, then you would mark a line across the leg 5" down from the top of the leg.

(Ref Top Right Photo)

The second measurement that you need is the middle point between the bottom of the leg and where you want the taper to begin (the first marking that you made). Once you find this middle point, you will then make a mark. Example, if your leg was 29" long and you start your taper 5" from the top, that leaves you with 24". You would need to make your mark 12" from the bottom of the leg.

(Ref Bottom Right Photo)

After you have marked your first line, transfer that line to the remaining sides. You want this to be visible on all four sides. This will be used as your reference to stop your cut in a later step.

Step 2: Set Your Cut Depth

Before making any cuts, you need to determine how much you want to take off. So, let's say for instance you want a 1/2" taper from the top of the leg to the bottom of the leg. The taper is going to be taken off in two passes. So, you would set your depth of cut to 1/4". This will make more sense as we move forward.

Step 3: Set Up Your Jointer

(Ref Left Photo)

Take a piece of scrap wood that is at least as tall as your fence. Turn on your machine, and slowly start feeding the board until it just barely comes in contact with the blade. Literally, as soon as you hear it touch the wood, stop the board. Turn the machine off while holding the board in place.

(Ref Top Right Photo)

Once the cutter head has come to a complete stop, scribe a line on the face of the fence. This is going to be used as your reference for the first of two cuts to complete the taper.

(Ref Bottom Right Photo)

With the same piece of scrap wood, mark a line 1/4" from the bottom. This line will be used to ensure that you have the proper depth of cut. Additionally, it will help with some of the nerves that you may be feeling as too whether or not your machine can cut that much material at once. If your machine has the 1/4" cut capability, then it can cut 1/4". I like to use MDF for my test cut and use a nice slow feed rate.

Step 4: Make the First Cut

In this example I will be explaining a leg that is tapered on 2 sides.

(Ref Left Photo)

Place your legs on the jointer with the bottom of the leg facing the cutter head.

(Ref Top Right Photo)

Turn on your machine and slowly start cutting the leg. You will continue your cut until the center line you scribed on the leg reaches the line you scribed on the fence. Stop the cut, turn off your machine, and remove you leg from the jointer surface when the cutter head has stopped. If you are doing a second side of the leg, your turn the leg to another flat surface and repeat.

(Ref Bottom Right Photo)

As you can see here, the cut stops exactly on the line.

Step 5: Make the Second Cut

(Ref Left Photo)

Once you have made your first cuts, you will now turn the leg so the top of the leg is facing the cutter head. You want to make sure that the portion you already cut is also facing down.

(Ref Top Right Photo)

You will the put downward pressure on the back of the leg. This will cause the end you are about to cut to raise off the surface. This is ok, this is what you want.

(Ref Bottom Right Photo)

While applying downward pressure, slowly start to feed the board in the direction of the cutter head. The cutter head will not come in contact with the leg until where you marked for the taper to start. keep pushing the leg through while applying downward pressure to complete the cut.

If you are doing a second side, again, you would follow the same steps.

Step 6: You're Done!

Just like that you have a perfectly tapered leg. I find the accuracy and consistency to be much better using this technique and you don't have to worry about an additional jig. Additionally, I find the cut quality to be much better, especially if you are using a helical head!

Thanks for taking the time to check this Instructable out. I hope you found it helpful.

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