Problem Solving Products: Precision Tapering by the Numbers

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This article is from Issue 55 of Woodcraft Magazine.

PS Precision

Precision Tapering by the Numbers

MicroJig MicroDial Tapering Jig (Model TJ-500)

If you have ever tried using your tablesaw to taper a post or leg, you may already know how most tapering jigs make the cut a lot harder than it needs to be. Those inexpensive but ever popular hinged-bar contraptions make it difficult to follow a line and require a tricky-two step to complete a cut. Simultaneously holding the blank against the jig while guiding the jig along a fence can get dicey. These cuts often necessitate post-cut clean-up work.

MicroJig’s MicroDial Tapering jig claims to solve both problems, and offers a few additional advantages. To see if the jig could earn its keep in my shop, I gave it a try.

Ready, Set, Saw

The Microdial comes almost entirely assembled. Simply attach the handle and a couple of other minor parts and you’re ready to taper.

Don’t be swayed by your first-impressions of the jig’s apparent complexity. After watching the DVD, I referred to the full-color manual for the first few cuts, but after that, I found the jig intuitive to use. As I soon discovered, making the cut isn’t that different from other jigs. Set the pivoting fence for the desired taper, place the jig against your tablesaw’s fence, and then register the end of your workpiece against the trailing hook and the workpiece edge against the pivoting fence. Next, adjust the saw’s rip fence so the taper starts right where you want it to, grab the handle, and slide the jig along the fence to cut the taper.

Tip-Top Tapering

The biggest difference with the Microdial is in the details. Woodworkers who are not content with “close enough” will be impressed by the jig’s ability to dial-in tapers in three different ways (see photo, above): by the degree, rise (inches per foot), and, of course, simple layout. The rise and run gauge dial measures taper angles in 1⁄16" per foot. The degrees scale–calibrated in 0.125° increments–almost seems better suited for metalworking than woodworking, but it ensures line-splitting accuracy.

Both scales are set in the same manner: align the color-coded Microdial with the appropriate setting on the scale, and drop the dial’s registration pin into the corresponding hole. Whichever method you choose, your settings can be preserved using the jig’s built-in locking stops. These stops help when tapering opposite sides of a workpiece, as each side requires its own setting.

Bottom Line

This is not an inexpensive jig. However, if you cut tapers on a frequent basis, the jig’s precision, ease of set-up, and repeatability justify the expense. If it saves a few legs of choice stock, the jig could quickly earn its keep. As an added bonus, you can use the jig to create octagonal tapered legs or posts (a feat that is nearly impossible with other tapering jigs).

For relatively wide pieces, you can hold the workpiece in place by hand. For narrow stock, you may want to add one or two GRR-Ripper 3D pushblocks (also from MicroJig) to help hold the workpiece down as you feed it over the blade.

MicroJig MicroDial Tapering Jig #856320 $139.99

Tester: Ken Burton

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