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51 Tapering on the jointer


This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 3, by multiple authors.

51 Tapering on the jointer

From: pauld@hplsla.HP.COM (Paul Davis)
Date: 25 Mar 91 17:09:08 GMT

In a response to "Buying a 6" Jointer," I mentioned tapering on the
jointer. Ken Burner wrote to ask for more information on the procedure,
and my reply to him bounced, so I'll post it here.

Mark off the portion at the top of the leg that will remain flat for the
apron joint, usually four or five inches. At that line place a double
thickness of masking tape all the way around the leg, making sure it's
smooth and even. Lower the jointer infeed table to 1/8" depth of cut and
turn it on. Pull the guard back and slowly lower the leg onto the cutter
so that the taped portion sits right on the edge of the outfeed table
nearest the cutter and the longer portion to be tapered rests on the infeed
table. The wood will not be making contact with the cutter at this point.
Now push the leg through the jointer with good downward pressure, as the
cutter will be taking an increasingly deeper cut. Repeat on the other
three sides and then perform the cycle again without changing the jointer
setup. On the second cycle the wood may make light contact with the
cutter, but grasp it firmly and be careful, as always. You can experiment
with thickness of tape and depth of cut to avoid that light contact, if
necessary. I started by marking off the desired size of the foot right on
the bottom of the leg so I could check my progress and not get confused
about which sides had been tapered already. With this technique you can do
all four sides in any order with one setup and get a uniformly tapered leg,
or just do two or three sides, whatever you want.

My jointer is short enough that the leg hangs off the end a few inches at
the start of the cut. This results in a slight curve. There may also be a
small imperfection at the start of the cut, depending on tape thickness,
etc. Both of these can be removed by taking the tape off and making a
final light pass or two of the whole leg through the jointer, along the
line of the taper and without lowering the flat part down on the outfeed
table. Be sure to allow for an intrusion into the flat section, though.
You can also cut the taper in two sections to avoid the curve. Mark out as
before, but make the first pass by starting the cut half way down the

If your jointer is long enough or your leg short enough, you can clamp a
block to the infeed side to reference the bottom of the leg as you lower
the workpiece onto the cutter. Then you don't have to be so careful about
where the tape comes down to ensure uniformity.

It's taken too many words to explain this procedure, which I found
intuitive, simple, and safe. I'm a very cautious person, and I didn't feel
endangered. Doing them on the table saw gave me more of a rush.

There have been articles on this in Woodsmith and Fine Woodworking, but I
don't have references.


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