There are several ways to make tapered wooden table legs, probably the biggest factor being which tools are used and the skill level of the person making the legs. Techniques for making these elegant and fanciful table supports range from merely cutting them out of a piece of 2 inch stock, making them wider at the top and narrower at the bottom; to building a wooden jig and mass producing exacting sets of four table legs.
Table saws can be used, as can routers with templates or for a well equipped wood shop, the use of a wood planer may be the tool of choice. Whatever the tool selection, it should be noted that although tapering legs may seem to be a very technical project, with a little care and practice, it can easily be done.
Step 1: Buying Table Leg Stock
Although thinner widths of table leg stock can be glued up and used to build a 2-inch thick leg, grain considerations and color will often be problematic. It is better to buy thicker lumber and mill it down to size. When buying stock for table legs, always check the ends of the boards for cracks which occasionally occur during milling and trim the ends if necessary.
Step 2: Square One Edge
Square one edge of the table leg stock either by using a hand plane, aligning it against the fence on a table saw, or run it through a wood plane. Using a carpenter’s square, continue cutting each of the sides of the table leg until a squared table leg in the length desired is achieved. The final dimensions for the table leg should be a 1-3/4 inch squared piece of lumber, approximately 30 inches long.
Step 3: Making the Tapered Leg
After determining the desired taper, carefully measure and mark the table leg stock. Use as thin a pencil as possible or a marking tool. Once the lines are drawn the cuts can be made in various ways. A simple process is to use a jig saw and rough cut outside the lines. Next, a hand router can be used to trim the leg stock to the lines.
Another method of tapering legs is to use a jig and a table saw. Tapering jigs are sold at many woodworking stores and many woodworking magazines and web sites abound with simple ways to build tapering jigs.
A third very effective way to taper a table leg is to make a template of the desired dimensions from lightweight plywood or medium density fiberboard. This template can be attached to the table leg stock with double sided tape and a router with a straight edge bit can be used to shape the tapered leg.
The most effective way to taper table legs is through the use of a thickness planer. The table leg stock is rough cut and run through the thickness planer making increasing passes toward the bottom of leg thus shaping the tapered table leg.