How do you taper desk legs - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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How do you taper desk legs

I am building a desk and wanted to make tapered legs. I have seen many videos of people tapering legs and they all use the same method, a little jig with a small piece of plywood or any other wood block at one end to create an angle then run it through the table saw. but i have yet to find a single video that explains how to determine the the angle for the taper. My legs are 30" long with the bottom of the desk starting at 25". the legs are 2"x2". i know this is probably an amateur question for for some reason i cannot get it to click in my head. any help would be appreciated. a formula would be great.
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 10:04 AM
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2"X2" legs are quite small to start with. I assume that this is a small desk that will be lightly used. I would only taper the lower portion. May the last 6 inches or so.

There is no set formula nor degree of taper to use on legs. Taper is primarily for the visual effect and has no effect on the structure. That is unless to such a degree that it causes a weak structure.

Make a model out of cardboard and see what looks good to you. Copy that in the real legs.

George
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post #3 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. My legs are actually 3.5" by 2" but i was going to cut them down to 2x2. now I do not think i will, i think i will keep them at 3.5"x2" If i were do to what exactly what the image i attached looks like what side of the desk to you put the narrow edge? So if you were sitting at the desk, would you be seeing the 1.5" edge of the leg or the 2" edge of the leg? Where does the tapered side go? Thanks again for your help
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 12:56 PM
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I think the tapers usually face the inside.

I like math, but it doesn't like me. I used the old a + b = c.

a = 18", which is 30" -12" in your drawing.
b = 1.5", which is 3 1/2" - 2" in your drawing.

and I got 18.062 as the hypotenuse. Here we need to use trigonometry, which I slept through in high school. So I went to: http://www.csgnetwork.com/righttricalc.html

and got an angle of 85.24.

In other words, do what @GeorgeC said and eyeball a cardboard template.
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post #5 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 02:06 PM
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Make a carrier that you can clamp the legs to, the carrier will be such that one edge runs along the fence, the other runs along beside the blade. Just mark the legs and let then hang over so the excess is cut off. Make second cut with first tapered cut facing up.

http://benchnotes.com/Taper%20and%20...ht_edge_ji.htm

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post #6 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 02:15 PM
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The foot on my tapered legs is about 1", the taper continues up the leg and stops a couple inches below the apron. I don't measure any of it, the angle is whatever it is. All that's important is that it looks good.
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post #7 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 11:20 PM
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I agree with Woodknack. The rule of thumb is the foot should be half the thickness of the width of the leg. I usually make 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 legs for tables with a double taper resulting in a 3/4 x 3/4 foot. The angle doesnt matter; it is what it is when you strike a line from where you want the taper to start and where you want it to end (leaving the foot size you desire).
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-12-2018, 11:57 PM
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I believe the method you are describing you just make a table saw sled to hold the wood on a angle so it cuts the taper. Myself I would do that on a jointer starting the cut 5" from the end.
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I believe the method you are describing you just make a table saw sled to hold the wood on a angle so it cuts the taper. Myself I would do that on a jointer starting the cut 5" from the end.
We had to demonstrate tapering a leg with a jointer in school, it was the first and last time for me. :) I find a tablesaw much easier. And there are still more ways of doing it.
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post #10 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 06:44 AM
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I use my Jointer for medium to long tapers. Its much easier for me and the are smooth after making my last pass.
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gj13us View Post
I think the tapers usually face the inside.

I like math, but it doesn't like me. I used the old a + b = c.

a = 18", which is 30" -12" in your drawing.
b = 1.5", which is 3 1/2" - 2" in your drawing.

and I got 18.062 as the hypotenuse. Here we need to use trigonometry, which I slept through in high school. So I went to: http://www.csgnetwork.com/righttricalc.html

and got an angle of 85.24.

In other words, do what @GeorgeC said and eyeball a cardboard template.
Haha, thanks for that, it made me laugh. Good advice also.
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
Make a carrier that you can clamp the legs to, the carrier will be such that one edge runs along the fence, the other runs along beside the blade. Just mark the legs and let then hang over so the excess is cut off. Make second cut with first tapered cut facing up.

http://benchnotes.com/Taper%20and%20...ht_edge_ji.htm
Frank, thanks for the response, yes that is exactly what i am talking about. i just found a video that showed me how to do it. much appreciated.
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post #13 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 12:06 PM
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I use a home made jig like Norm did. Cheap and easy. You can see it in this New Yankee Video starting at about 10:30 mins in. Last time I used it was to make a small taper at the bottom of some end tables.

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post #14 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 01:37 PM
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I did the "carrier" method - I made the stops high enough I could do two legs in one pass - so if I booboo'ed at least the front pair and back pair matched exactly....

looks like:
I used 3.25 at the top - my own critique says the top of the leg was a smidge to wide for the proportions
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post #15 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by BigWood1 View Post
Frank, thanks for the response, yes that is exactly what i am talking about. i just found a video that showed me how to do it. much appreciated.
It's difficult to see what the guy was doing in the still picture. He's certainly in a cumbersome position which I can only assume he's doing something dangerous that nobody should do.
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post #16 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
It's difficult to see what the guy was doing in the still picture. He's certainly in a cumbersome position which I can only assume he's doing something dangerous that nobody should do.
Looks like he is trying to cut his arm off...
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post #17 of 20 Old 03-13-2018, 08:39 PM
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I'd like to see the video.
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post #18 of 20 Old 03-16-2018, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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hes just fitting the leg into the jig at this point, not cutting on the saw. Here is a link to the video
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post #19 of 20 Old 03-16-2018, 02:49 PM
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I do this, except on a bandsaw (I don't own a table saw), followed by cleanup with a hand plane:

https://youtu.be/oSjVnMIanNE

Simple, easily adjustable, and effective.
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post #20 of 20 Old 03-16-2018, 02:52 PM
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Oh! And the tapered side can go wherever you want! I've done it both ways. If you want the taper to go the full length of the leg (as opposed to stopping part way up) it's easier to have it on the outside so your joinery doesn't have to be angled.
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