Tips & Tricks Issue 93: Fence-Free Tapering

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This article is from Issue 93 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Making a shelf for a wedge-shaped cabinet I built a while ago required sawing a fairly extreme taper on a 2 × 4' sheet of 3/4"-thick plywood. I wanted to use the tablesaw because it provided a much cleaner cut than my portable circular saw, but the piece was too large, and the angle too severe to use a typical tapering jig. After a bit of thought, I realized that the solution was to guide it with a runner that slid in my saw table groove. 

I began by laying out a cutline on what would be the underside of the finished piece. Then I cut a straight-grained, table-slot-sized strip of wood to the approximate length of my cutline. I measured the distance from the saw blade to a table groove, then transferred that measurement from my cutline onto the “keeper” section of the workpiece. After using a straightedge to draw the full-length offset, I screwed the runner to the workpiece adjacent to that straight line. All that was left was to insert the runner in the table groove and make the cut. 

—Russ Svendsen, Olean, NY


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