Four Ways to Make Tapered Legs


We explore methods to help you find the one that works best.
By Keith Neer, Glen D. Huey, Robert W. Lang & Christopher Schwarz
Pages: 55-59

From the February 2009 issue #174
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It’s true! From working with hand tools, to powering up stationary machinery, to any combination of these two woodworking disciplines, there are myriad techniques to taper legs.

Tapering work is often completed using a band saw or table saw. At times you’ll see tapered legs being made at a jointer. And some woodworkers shape their legs using a thickness planer.

On a recent visit with Keith Neer, an Ohio craftsman and woodworking teacher, we settled around a table for lunch. As you might expect, when four woodworkers get together, the conversation quickly turns to woodworking.We agreed on most topics until, that is, we touched upon tapering legs. It soon became clear that we differed in our preferred technique. Each of us uses a different method to produce a leg design found on Federal, Shaker and country furniture.

Of the four techniques, one is completed using a single machine (after properly marking the legs). Another requires accurate layout on all legs before a two-step milling process completes the work. And two of the techniques require a custom-built jig that’s used to produce any number of matching legs. One layout, repeatable results.

This is how it is for most woodworking techniques – many avenues lead to the same address. Try each of these techniques to find the one that best fits your tooling, experience and abilities.


From the February 2009 issue #174
Buy this issue now