Friday, January 30, 2009


I am currently shaping some legs for a table. The legs are double-tapered and will be shaped to form a curved outside edge overlapping three facets of the leg. I spent some time measuring and re-measuring the width and depth of the top and bottom of the leg since everything in between leads to these two points. I quite like the shape of tapered legs which provide a larger surface for strength at the joining area towards the top and then taper down to a thinner point at the bottom where strength isn't as much an issue.

In this case I have combined cherry and maple feet to form these particular tapered legs. I work with certain sizes and slope of legs which I have been successful with in the past. The slope is not too dramatic, but more gradual which presents an elegantly shaped leg once I have completed the shaping. I rough out the blanks on the tablesaw and bandsaw , but the handplane is my tool of choice for shaping the legs. I use an variety of handplanes ranging from a block plane to the jointer plane, the jointer plane to maintain the correct and straight taper on each of the leg sides.

I can't begin to explain how joyful it is working these rough blanks to fine, elegantly tapered legs which are smoothed to perfection. It's almost like forming a chunk of rough stone into a fine diamond. As the bandsaw marks disappear and the leg sides become straight, true and square to each other along their taper, it becomes difficult to stop planing :) This is where the regular measuring and comparing enters, since even with pencil lines, these are soon enough planed away and any reference disappears. What I do is use one leg as a template and compare the others against this one.

Next entry I will show the completed, shaped leg.


Paul Kierstead said...

Interesting timing. Just last week I had to taper 4 legs. As an experiment, I decide to try the power jointer method described in the latest Pop WW (only two passes per taper) and it worked surprisingly well; pretty perfect in fact. I used a test leg first, of course :) I only tapered two sides of each leg.

I do enjoy the quiet pleasant way of doing it with a handplane too.

Norman Pirollo said...

Hey Paul,

I haven't had a chance to read the article, I don't yet have that issue.

Your reply reminds me of all the posts I've seen in the past years in woodworking forums about jointers inadvertendly taper wood.
These are the jointers which are incorrectly set, blades too high, outfeed table set too low.. but the complaint was the wood was tapered after passing it through..

Maybe all we need to do is misadjust the jointer to create tapered legs :)