Tapering the legs



Between various holiday activities, getting a flu right before Christmas, the cold weather, and an insane work schedule for the last two weeks, I haven’t been able to get the last of the 4 legs glued together.  Anyway, I finally brought the leg and the glue into the house, let it all warm up, and then took it outside to glue it up.  Then I brought it back inside dry.  Anyway, all of the legs are dry and ready for the next step: tapering.

But, before I can taper them…I need to clean up the glue and plane the maple flush.


First, I used a plane to remove the bulk of the excess material and glue…both on the sides and bottoms of each leg.  Then I used a scraper to get everything nice and smooth and flush.


I like to cut tapers on the jointer.  It’s a very accurate way to cut gentle tapers.  But, it does require a bit of setup.  First you find the length of the piece you are tapering.


Then you set a stop block at half that length from the center of the jointer knives.  And set the depth of cut to one-half of the desire depth, in this case I wanted 1/2” of taper, so I set the jointer at 1/4” cut.


Now that the jointer is setup, all you have to do is push the stock into jointer desired smaller end first.  Repeat for each side of each leg.


Once all the legs have been cut on all sides, this is the result.


Next remove the stop block, turn the piece around, and tilt the leg up…so that it is doing a “wheelie”.  Then push it into the jointer.  Its important to go slowly because the depth of cut is so deep.  Otherwise, you can get a lot of tear-out.  Repeat for all sides of all legs.


Then end result.  30 minutes later 4 legs are tapered exactly 1/2” on each side.


The next task was to determine which sides of each leg should face outwards, or more importantly which should NOT.  When doing projects like this, quite often it’s a matter of “hiding” the defects.  I got a little bit of tear-out on one side of one leg were there was a small knot.  That corner will face the inside of the table!  Once I’ve arranged the legs, I place a piece of tape on the outside corner of each leg, just to mark it.


These pictures show the arrangement of grain that I’ve chosen


The next task is to cut the pegs and mortises for the apron.  because walnut is so dark, I use tape to make it easy to see the marks.  This also helps to minimize tear out.  I’ll be cutting the pegs and mortises , next.


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