Introduction: How to Make a Taper Jig on the Cheap

About: It's said that to perfect a skill takes about 10,000 hours of work and study. If that's the case I've got around 9,000 hours to go. But, like they say, it's not the destination but the journey.

Owning a variety of jigs is a necessity for anyone who is serious about woodworking. Having the right jig can open up a world of possibilities in both the design and construction of a project. Most importantly, jigs make difficult woodworking techniques much easier. Also, making your own jigs can be very satisfying, especially when using one to build a project.

I've made multiple jigs over the years but just recently decided to add a taper jig to my collection. I figured I could make a great jig for about a quarter of the cost of buying one online, so here is a way to make yourself a taper jig on the cheap.

Step 1: Materials and Specs

The jig consists of a base to guide the work piece past the blade and a guide bar to lock the work piece in position for a tapered cut. I originally made both these parts out of 1/2" mdf. However, because the guide bar tends to flex quite a bit when locking down a work piece, I decided using 3/4" pine for the guide bar was a better option.

Jig base: 8" x 36"

Guide bar: 3" x 38"

I purchased the hardware for the jig from Rockler woodworking since I modeled my jig after the one they sell in their catalog. The cost of a kit containing a good selection of bolts, knobs and 4' of T-bar (much more than needed for this project) is priced at $34.99 but can be a great deal when purchased on sale. These items can also be purchased individually.

Hardware parts breakdown:

2 - 1-1/2" x 5/16" T-bolts

2 - 2-1/2" x 5/16" T-bolts

4 - 5-star knobs

2 - hold down clamps

The handles to guide the jig past the blade are generic handles that were purchased at my local hardware store.

Step 2: Routing Slots for the T-Bolts

Once you have cut the base and guide bar to size all you have to do is rout slots for the t-bolts in both pieces. Each slot will have a second, shallow groove that recesses and seats the head of the t-bolt below the surface. Begin and end the slots approximately an inch from the edges of the base and two inches from the ends of the guide bar. Use a router for this step.

At the ends of the guide bar I added an 8" measure as a reference when setting the guide bar to the desired taper. All you need to do is make photo copies of the first 8" of a tape measure and then affix it to the base under a layer of clear packing tape.

All these details are shown in the included photos.

Step 3: Sample Set Up and Results

These pictures show how to obtain exactly the same taper on multiple work pieces when cutting a set of legs.

After the first work piece is in position choose reference points on both ends of the taper and mark the locations with painters tape. Since you won't be changing the guide bar on subsequent cuts all you need to do is line up the ends of the other work pieces with the reference points on the jig.

Making the cut:

As always, exercise caution when using any power tool.

Take a few practice tries with the saw turned off and without a work piece in the jig. Don't attempt a cut until you feel comfortable with your technique.

When ready, stand at the side of the table saw and, using the handles, hold the base firmly against the fence and slowly slide the work piece past the blade.

Here are the results:

Attached are a few pictures from my first attempt using this taper jig. I think the tapered legs add more character to an otherwise simple box joint design. I hope you found this instructable helpful. Happy woodworking!