Simple Easy Cheap Method to Cut Tapered or Angled Parts on a Table Saw

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About: Zeppelin Design Labs combines the talents of two engineers: Brach, an expert audio products designer; and Glen, a veteran project manager. Our team also includes three lava lamps, two plasma balls and a rho...

Intro: Simple Easy Cheap Method to Cut Tapered or Angled Parts on a Table Saw

There are many Instructables illustrating how to construct complicated jigs, fixtures and sleds for cutting angled pieces on a table saw, such as tapered furniture legs. Here we present an extremely simple method for cutting any angle in almost any piece of wood. The Advantages of this method are: Zero cost; quick setup; good versatility; easy and safe. The Disadvantages are: the finished part must come from a piece of wood that is sufficiently oversized to receive at least two screws; the method is not repeatable, meaning the same short setup time is required for every cut, so if you need a large number of identical parts, this method is inappropriate.

Step 1: Lay Out the Cut on the Finished Part

With a pencil and straightedge, lay out the tapered cut on the blank. Include the kerf; that is, draw a line to represent both sides of the slot that the blade will create. In this illustration, the finished part is on the left; the discard material is on the right.

Step 2: Attach a Guide Board to the Blank

For a guide board, use a scrap of plywood or board wide enough to completely cover the discard, and long enough to extend a few inches beyond both ends of the blank. Align this guide board with the kerf line and tack it to the discard with a couple of pins from your air nailer, or with a couple of screws.

Step 3: Set the Fence

Flip the boards over end-to-end. Use the guide board width to set the table saw fence position.

Step 4: Cut the Part

Withdraw the guide board, start the saw and cut the part. The finished part drops off onto the table. Other than the two pinholes, the discard is reusable.

We used this method recently to cut the sides of a custom pedal board (Instructable). I used this method from time to time over many years when I was in the cabinet business, usually to cut parts for tapered pedestals, or components of tapered cabinets that were too wide to fit on the radial arm saw. Often, the finish part is quite large and the discard is quite small; in this case, we mount a large guide board to the unseen backside of the cabinet piece as suggested in the last image. The finished piece is now between the blade and the fence, and the discard drops to the table.

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    33 Discussions

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    Bettybstt

    2 years ago

    Very nice - thanks! I would think you could also use hot glue or carpet tape instead of pin nailing, if you want an unmarred off cut??

    1 reply
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    Yes, there are several remarks to that effect down below. Me personally, I feel any tape that would not leave glue behind would not be strong enough to trust. Machete (below) says he has good success with hot glue.

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    NTR2DR

    2 years ago

    Like rayleb I have been over engineering a solution for this problem.

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    rayleb

    2 years ago

    very nice, so simple I feel stupid. It's obvious, why didn't I know this already?

    1 reply
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    Zeppelin Design Labsrayleb

    Reply 2 years ago

    When, at age 13, I learned geometry for the first time, I felt stupid: it's so obvious, why didn't I know this already? When, after 19 years of marriage, my wife finally got through to me the difference between a dish cloth and aa wash cloth, I felt stupid: is so obvious, why didn't I know thisalready? Within a month, I was informed that I had used the wrong towel to clean a spill. Which one had I used? Which one should I have used? I have no idea; it's not obvious. Moral of the story: it's never too late to learn something new.

    Nice one! I use a similar method for "one off" taper cuts. I have a strip of 6mm thick by 100mm wide aluminium as the sled. I put a few small dabs of hot glue (very hot as it stays thin) on the wood as the fastner. Quickly heat the aluminium with a hot air gun to soften the glue when your done. A few tiny dabs of glue is all that is needed but testing your setup is a must. Sometimes I just put a piece of non skid Matt between the two and use hand pressure But I'm sure some will agree that is not in everyone's comfort and safety zone...that's fine as well!

    2 replies

    I did have the same opinion until i gave it a go. I would not cut ally with a very expensive blade but I have found it not to be an issue cutting aluminium with carbide woodworking tools. I do a lot of machining with it and the proper cutters for ally are all HSS and carbide anyway.Granted the edge geometry for the proper cutters is different but I regularly cut big sections of solid aluminium on a tablesaw or chopsaw. Each to there on on that one! For some it will be a safety issue as well.

    If you set the fence to a hair over 100mm you will not cut the ally and the hot glue is used the same way you would use pins, screws or brads. Just a few dabs is usually enough so the glue never comes close to the blade. This method is good if you want both pieces without nail holes but when accuracy counts, I would be using your method.

    BTW, I really like your flip method! I never thought of that. I normally just eyeball it from the top but when accuracy counts, I'm using your method!

    Nice one! I use a similar method for "one off" taper cuts. I have a strip of 6mm thick by 100mm wide aluminium as the sled. I put a few small dabs of hot glue (very hot as it stays thin) on the wood as the fastner. Quickly heat the aluminium with a hot air gun to soften the glue when your done. A few tiny dabs of glue is all that is needed but testing your setup is a must. Sometimes I just put a piece of non skid Matt between the two and use hand pressure But I'm sure some will agree that is not in everyone's comfort and safety zone...that's fine as well!

    Yes. I have done this a gazillion times with zero kickbacks. The guide board could be thinner, say 1/2". My experience has shown the near-fatal flaw is to send a piece through the saw that is not stable; the elevation is not problematic. (See my remarks below on using a non-skid pad).

    When we have used this technique on large parts (3'x3' pedestal components, countertops, etc) we usually arrange it so the largest portion is supported by the guide board, whether that means putting screw marks in the finished piece or not. The screw marks are always on the underside or backside of the finished part, and the smaller waste piece drops the 1/2" - 3/4" to the table. No problem.

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    Bill WW

    2 years ago on Step 4

    Good job, I'm going to use it for sure.

    I suppose double sided tape could be used instead of the pins, but that is a minor detail, your concept is great.

    1 reply

    Yes you could, but a tape that I would feel confident to hold the part securely would also likely leave residue to clean off; I'd rather putty the screw holes. The suggestion below to use surface clamps screwed to the guide board is also a great solution. A lot depends on how precise and how reproducible the job requirements are. This method is neither as precise nor as reproducible as others, but when you need one angled cabinet bottom and one angled shelf, it's a winner.

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    sharondavid1

    2 years ago on Step 4

    It is easily repeatable. Tack 2 stops, one to the end of the board and one to the side of the board and you have created a pattern.

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    remembervhs

    2 years ago on Step 4

    great idea. Love the 3D images... you must have put a lot of time into this. thanks!

    1 reply

    As any craftsman knows, everything is easy given the right tools. Please note Zeppelin Design Labs is an audio design firm where I serve as mechanical engineer. I actually decided it would be faster and easier to model and render a table saw than to go downstairs to the wood shop -- and I avoided exposing my camera to dust.