How to handplane a taper to perfection
Tom McLaughlin’s tapering jig makes quick work of any taper, but some work with a handplane makes it sing
Tom McLaughlin’s tapering jig makes quick work of any taper, whether it is used on the tablesaw or bandsaw. Tom always leaves himself a little room to clean things up with a handplane, though. This gives him a finish-ready surface, but it’s easy to lose sight of where the handplane is starting on the taper.
To ensure that the plane is taking material from the tapered section only, Tom always starts with more pressure on the toe of his plane. Because it can be hard to see precisely where the blade is hitting, Tom draws some squiggles on the tapered leg, below the mortise. Then, as he planes the taper, he can easily see the squiggles being planed away, making it clear as can be where the taper begins.
You can learn how Tom makes his tapering jig in issue #268 of Fine Woodworking, and be sure to watch him use it to build a tapered-leg Shaker Hall Table on the premiere of Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking in April 2018. Check your local listings for more information. Of course, FineWoodworking.com members will get to watch all of the episodes from this season as they air.
For the past 28 years, Tom McLaughlin has been designing and making custom furniture. Starting in April, though, you can catch him hosting Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking on PBS, where he and guests explore a range of woodworking topics and projects. He’s no stranger to teaching. For years, he’s taught classes in person and online at Epic Woodworking.
More on Fine Woodworking.com:
- Tapering Jig for the Tablesaw – This versatile jig not only makes tapered legs, it also makes angled cuts on sheet goods as wide as the tablesaw will allow
- Tapered Laminations Made Easy – A single jig tapers the plies on the bandsaw and then guides them through the planer
- Shaker Classic, 2 Ways – Change the legs to change the look of this classic piece