Advanced jointer techniques yield smooth, consistent tapers.
iter I learned to cut tapered legs on the jointer, I never went back to my handsaw or tablcsaw. Legs cut on the jointer take less time and, best of all, require a whole lot less sanding. This is especially true with the sjxidc-foot design in which the jointer's cutterhead automatically creates the sweep above the spade foot. The same leg cut on a handsaw would require hand shaping and sanding to finish the profile.
All three legs shown here are made from 1-3/1 x 1-3/4 x 29 in. stock. The first leg I'll explain how to make is the familiar long taper found in many Shaker designs. Often, this leg has the taper on only two adjoining faces. The second leg has a short taper used on cabinets w ith legs and on some stylized modern pieces. The last profile, a tapered leg with a spade foot, builds on the techniques used in making the first two legs. This remarkable shape is both elegant and refined. It hints at Hepplewhite and Sheraton furniture designs from the eighteenth century and can make a piece distinctive and stylish even today.
Hie technique involves dropping a leg down on a running jointer. That may seem a bit scary at first, but stop and start blocks make the procedure safer than with most tablcsaw laperjigs I've used and more accurate titan for any taper I've done on a bandsaw.
It is a good idea to use a test leg to set up the cuts. As always, mill the mortises before yen shape the legs. Finally, make sure your knives are sharp and your jointer is well-tuned.
Start Che tapor cut by slowly lowering the leg onto the jointer with the foot set against the start block. Almost no wood is cut when you first put the leg stock down.The start block prevents kickback. Have your push sticks ready.
ITo set the start block, position the leg blank on the jointer with the alignment mark centered over the cutterhead. The alignment mark is placed 1 in. below where you want the taper to begin. Butt the start block up to the leg and clamp the block onto the infeed toble.
3Create the taper in several passes. Feed the leg slowly over the knives. Use a push block that's toller than the fence to maintain light downward pressure on the infeed table. To keep the cut square, use a push stick to hold the leg tightly against the fence on the outfeed table.
4Complete each taper with a shallow cleanup pacs using the jointer in a traditional manner. Keep the top of the leg pushed tightly against the fence to ensure a square cu t.
1. Lay out the desired taper on all four sides of the leg. Make alignment marks 1 in. below the lop of the taper. My taper goes from 0 in. to 1/2 in. at the foot.
2. Position the start block on the infeed table using the alignment mark as a reference (Photo 1). The start block gives you a consistent start point for each cut and provides a pivot point for safely lowering the leg blank onto the jointer.
3. Set your jointer's depth of cut to 1/8 in. With push sticks ready, turn on the jointer. Place the foot of the leg firmly against «he start block. Suing the guard out of the way and lower the leg (Photo 2).
4. Complete the cut (Photo 3). Make three or four passes on the same side of the leg. closing in on your layout line.
5. Rotate the leg 90 degrees into the fence and cut the adjacent taper. Continue until all four tapers have been cut.
6. After all of your legs are tapered, you'll likely see a small divot from the cutterhead where the taper cut begins. To clean this up. remove the stop block and reset the depth of cut to about 1/6-1 in. Make a single pass on each side to clean up the divot (Photo 4).
7. A little sanding completes the leg.
1. Lay out t he taper on the leg blank. Construct a sled that angles the leg up on the jointer sothe taper line is parallel with the Ix d (see photo, below).
2. With die jointer turned off. set the cutting depth to about 1/8 in. Place die sled on the outfeed table and swing out the guard. Place the leg oil du- sled so it is suv pended over the cutterhead and rests on die infeed table.
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