Building Confidence

Volume 11 Issue 12
ISSN 1923-7162

Welcome to Dave's Shop Talk's Home Improvement Newsletter of questions from our members on their construction projects, a Tip of the Month and a home remodeling article, both from our website at

Tip of the Month

Make a feather board to keep pieces tight against a saw fence when ripping. Also make a push stick to save fingers when ripping narrow pieces on a table saw. Ref: Jigs 1: Table Saw Feather Board.

And a Bonus Tip:

Without a dado blade make a jig for cutting dados with a router. Ref: Jigs 3: Dado Router Jig.

Ask Dave!

Here is a new year tip I got from the Malahat Volunteer Fire Department, near where I live.

I couldn't write it better than Rob Patterson, Fire Chief of Malahat Fire & Rescue, who kindly gave us permission to publish it.

Brand New Year! Same old bad habits? Is this the year that we will really effect a change in our way of thinking and act safely, or are we all going to fall into the same old rut? Personally, I have no plan to get hurt or be part of another responder's "day". It's a known fact that we spend more time planning a vacation or weekend away than we do for day to day living. Don't let winter get you down... break old winter habits... be positive in all that you do. Are you prepared for the week ahead? Do you have an emergency kit at home? In your car/truck? At work? If you are stuck in traffic do you have enough fuel, a snack, water, a charged cell phone, a blanket? Do friends and family know where you are? At home do you have spare gas for your generator, flashlights, batteries, a good supply of dry firewood? Rely more upon yourself and be "that person who cares enough to check on others". The elderly and infirm just might need a hand and are not used to asking for help. Don't wait for them to ask, it may be too late. You never know how much just a simple act can affect someone. By getting out and checking on your neighbors you can do some real good. Salt/Sand their drive or walk, help to clear a roof or driveway of snow. Have your chimney cleaned regularly if you burn a lot of wood for heat. Don't burn "green" wood, only seasoned dry wood. Check and test your smoke alarm regularly. If you need to call for emergency services, please make it easy for them to find you (Address sign), flash driveway/house lights, meet us at the driveway if possible. If someone is hurt please don't move them unless they are in imminent danger. Stay calm, cover with blanket and reassure them. We will be there! Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time. Keep all important medical forms close at hand and easily found as it can be difficult to remember when a loved one is suddenly ill. Be prepared! Be part of the solution not part of the problem. Fail to plan. Plan to fail! From all of the team here at Malahat Fire & Rescue we wish all of you a prosperous and safe new year.

Thanks Chief Rob and thanks for all the FD responders out there, willing to put their lives on the line for us.

Feature Article of the Month

(taken from our website:

Jigs 5: Table Saw Tapering Jig

A fence is used on a table saw to make cuts exactly parallel to an edge of the material being cut. When we want to make a cut on a table saw that is not parallel with an edge, one way to do it is with a table saw tapering jig. We could make a simple table saw tapering jig with the exact angle we need for this project or make a little more complex one that can be adjusted for whatever tapering angle you might need in the future as well. We'll call it a table saw tapering jig.

The table saw tapering jig consists basically of two pieces of wood that can be adjusted to different angles. The table saw tapering jig is placed against the table saw fence, the material to be tapered is placed against the table saw tapering jig and both the material and the table saw tapering jig are moved along the table saw fence together giving a straight cut at an exact angle.

Making Your Table Saw Tapering Jig

Let's start making this table saw tapering jig by ripping two pieces of 3/4" plywood 2 1/2" wide (about the same height as the table saw fence) and cut to 30" long. Find a piece of piano hinge or butt hinge about 2" to 2 1/2" long and fasten this to the two pieces of plywood so when they are placed with their 2 1/2" faces together are even in length. After installing the hinge on one end of the table saw tapering jig, they will open up on the opposite end. Keep the hinge flush or below the top and bottom edges of the plywood pieces.

Now we must devise a way to keep the table saw tapering jig from opening too much or not enough and stop at the precise angle we want. To do this we need a lock or stop of some kind. The easiest adjustable lock to make for the table saw tapering jig is one from 1/4" plywood.

Rip a piece of 1/4" plywood 1" wide by 6" long and round the ends nicely. At one end drill a 3/16" hole, centered on the piece and 3/8" from the rounded end. Measure 1" from this same end and drill a 5/16" hole. At the other end of this piece, come in 1/2" and drill another 5/16" hole.

Now connect the sides of these two 5/16" holes with a pencil line so that you have two parallel lines 5/16" apart and ending in a 5/16" hole at each end. Cut these two lines very carefully with a jig saw using a fine blade. Be careful not to push the jig saw blade too hard and break the plywood.

Diagram of a table saw tapering jig and how it is used.Cut from one hole to the other along the two pencil lines to form a slot. This slot should be able to have a 1/4" bolt slide along it without catching up anywhere.

Assemble the slotted lock onto the top edge of the table saw tapering jig. Screw the 3/16" hole end to the right hand piece so the rounded end is flush with the outside face of the table saw tapering jig and the screw is placed about 2" from the end opposite the hinge. Use a #8 x1 1/2" screw with a 3/16" flat washer over and under the slot.

Pre-drill the table saw tapering jig to accept the screw and tighten so it's just snug. The lock must be free to swivel on this screw. On the other side of the table saw tapering jig, about 2" from the end opposite the hinge, pre-drill a hole and install a 1/4" diameter leg screw. Assemble the slotted lock with a 1/4" washer above and below the slot onto this leg screw with a 1/4" wing nut. (A leg screw is a fastener with wood screw threads on one end and machine threads on the other. It is used primarily in attaching bed or table legs to a metal plate fastened to the frame.)

Next we need to install a stop for the material we are tapering so it can be moved with the table saw tapering jig as one unit. This is done by attaching a piece of 3/4" plywood with measurements of 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" onto the left hand side of the table saw tapering jig at the end. Pre-drill two holes for #8x1 1/2" screws and glue and screw the small piece on the table saw tapering jig. Keep the top and bottom flush with the table saw tapering jig and overlap it by 3/4" on the outside, forming a stop for the material to rest against.

Using the Table Saw Tapering Jig

Okay, we've created a table saw tapering jig, but how do we use it? From the sketch you can see that our table saw tapering jig is on the table saw against the table saw fence.

Place the table saw tapering jig on the table saw with a leg or board to be tapered. On the leg or board draw a line where the taper will be?1" at the bottom end and 1 1/2" at the top end. Orient the leg as in the sketch with the bottom of the leg against the end stop of the table saw tapering jig. Move the table saw fence about a foot away from the blade and lock it in position. Now adjust the table saw tapering jig so when the leg or board is against the table saw tapering jig and the table saw tapering jig is against the table saw fence the line on the leg or board is parallel to the table saw blade. Slide the table saw tapering jig and leg or board back and forth along the table saw fence to get these measurements. When sliding the table saw tapering jig, make sure the table saw tapering jig and leg or board move as one unit without any slipping between them.

Adjust the table saw fence and table saw tapering jig towards the table saw blade until the blade just starts to cut the line at the start of the taper near the top.

Works pretty good, eh?

Make-Shift Table Saw Tapering Jig

When out in the field and the table saw tapering jig is at home hanging up nicely in the shop, another trick to tapering a board is as follows. Mark the start and finish of the taper on the board. Use a board of equal or greater width and length to nail on top of the tapered board to use as a guide against the table saw fence, as shown in the drawing.

Drawing of how to taper a board on a table saw with the tapering jig.

Read more of Dave's articles at

Almost the End

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Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


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