How to Make a Tapered Table Leg

By T.J. Black ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Taper jig
  • Hand plane
  • Chisels
  • Scrapers
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain or finish

Tapered legs help add character to your handmade table. They break up the blocky look of square legs, and you can pick from a variety of sizes to find the one that best suits your design. When you make your own tapered table legs, it's important that you use the same size taper for each leg to provide a uniform look. Any woodworking craftsman can create uniform legs by using the right tools for the job.

Measure the angle for the taper. In order to taper, a leg must be wider at one end than it is at the other. The design you have in mind will help you determine the angle you want to use to reach this difference. When you pick a degree of sharpness for the taper, make sure you leave enough width at the bottom of the leg to support the weight of the table.

Determine what type of saw you want to use to create your tapered table legs. You can use a handsaw, but you might have trouble creating uniform cuts for the legs on it. Your other option is to use a table saw if you have access to one.

Create or buy a taper jig to guide your cuts. There are several designs you can use for your jig, or you can buy one from a home supply store. In order to work correctly, you need to be able to set the angle for the taper on the jig, and it needs to work with the type of saw you plan to use to make the cuts. Adjustable jigs allow you to set multiple angles on the jig, and they lock in place to avoid slips as you work.

Set your jig to the correct angle and position your first piece of wood in the jig. Make the cut and then rotate the leg for consecutive cuts to create a uniform taper on all sides of the leg. Repeat the process for each additional table leg.

Determine whether you want to shape the tapered legs to create a spindled look. Most jigs create a square taper, but you can use tools like hand planes, chisels, scrapers and sandpaper to shape the leg into different shapes. You can also create tapered table legs using a lathe, which can reduce the time involved to create the taper.

Finish the tapered legs to your preference. Even if you leave a square taper, consider sanding the legs to smooth out any rough edges created during the cutting process. You may want to apply a stain or finish to the wood to match the table.


Some woodworkers tape the cut portion of the wood back onto the table leg to make it easier to cut the additional sides.