Building Confidence

Volume 18 Issue 4
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 table saw tapering jig for tapering legs, etc. See full article in this newsletter. (See our site for many more jigs!)

KEEP BUSY! Now's a good time to catch up on your projects!

Ask Dave!

I want to use 4 x 12 for the stringers and treads. I need to know the best way to mount top of the stringer to the upper floor beam ( 6 x 16 ) total rise is 129". run is open ended. 7" rise for each tread . stair angle brackets to mount treads to stringer. what are the angles to cut the top and bottom of part of the 4 x 12 . I could not find this type of staircase thanks !

The ends of the stringers are square to the floor and beam. My article How to Build Stairs and the next one in the Stairs series, gives the details.

For these heavy stairs, I'd use steel 1/4" X 3" X 3" angle iron, lagged to the stringer, as well as, the beam with 3/8" lag bolts.

Check out these drawings:

Print out from our Stair Calculator showing a diagram of a stringer with all its measurements.

Print out from our Stair Calculator showing a diagram of a stringer with all its measurements.

Hope this helps,


I purchased pre-cut stair treads (oak) 1" inch thick, also the riser panels that are 7 1/2" inch tall, problem is when I put the rise and run into the calculator as 7 1/2" and 11", it comes up to cut at a 8 1/16". I'm assuming you put the riser panel up and then the tread, so the actual tread ends up near 12" My rise is 32 inches

You can have 5 rises of 6 13/32 or 4 rises of 8" with a 32" total rise. You can rip the risers to 6 13/32".

How wide are your treads? You need them the run width plus the nosing (overhang). Will the treads be wide enough? You can adjust the treads a bit, but the rises must be evenly divided by the total rise.

Using our Stair Calculator: Plug in 32 for the total rise, then choose Usual rise of 7 and run of 11 in the pop down choices.

Then print the drawings. Install the riser boards and treads as shown in the 3rd drawing.


Hi Dave - just an observation. I have used your stair stringer calculator for several projects and they have all come out great. In addition to doing my own front porch and rear deck at our prior house, and now three short stairways to a new pool deck I am building at our "retirement" home, I volunteered to rebuild a rear deck, front porch and multiple sets of stairs at the Freeport, Long Island Beacon House. Having just cut the three stairway stringers at my current home, I had done some preliminary calculations that told me I could get two stringers out of a 10', pressure-treated 2x12, so I bought 6 of them (I needed 12 total stringers) and then when I printed up the results from your calculator, I read that I would need a 6' board for each. Fortunately, with rises between 27-1/2" and 32-1/2", the 10' 2-by's gave me more than enough length to cut 2 stringers from each. I think you or Dan must be thinking that because you can only get dimensional lumber in even lengths, your calculator recommended using 6' lengths for each stringer, and not 5' lengths. This could get expensive - I paid about $36 for a 10' PT 2x12. In the results of the calculator, you can save people money by displaying the exact length of lumber they will need rather than rounding up to the nearest even length. So if it comes out to the need for 57", a person can buy a 10' length and get two stringers out of it. Also, I strongly recommend that people only use 2x12 when building stringers for safety purposes. I am using four stringers for even these short, 36" wide stairways as manufacturers recommend distances of no greater than 12" on center to support composite decking material. Thanks to you and Dan for your great work. Regards, Kevin

Kevin went on to say:

Most of the Beacon Houses on Long Island have had residents infected with Covid-19 and they are in need of whatever medical and sanitary supplies they can get - masks, gloves, digital thermometers, Clorox wipes, cleaning supplies, etc and because most residents don't have a car, they can't get out to a grocery shop. Needless to say, money and cost is an issue for them as well. Donations of supplies, food, and money would be appreciated. The United Veterans Beacon House office is located at 1715 Union Blvd., Bay shore NY 11706. The director is Frank Amalfitano and he can be reached at and at 631.774.6448 (Cell); and at 631.665.1571 (Ofc). Both Frank and I are veterans.

During this pandemic time, we need to help those less fortunate than ourselves. If you live close to this Beacon House Complex please see if you can help our veterans out. Give Frank a call, you may even see Kevin working on the deck, porch and stairs. Give Kevin a big Hi from Dave & Dan!

Thanks, Kevin,

Dan will change the length of the stringer board to be more accurate. I like to allow a little extra length to allow for cracks, knots, etc. All our good wood is exported!!


As promised, here are the plans for the jig I mentioned at the top of this newsletter. We have a bunch of different handy jigs on our site for you.

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 tapering jig and how to use it on a table saw.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.

Diagram of how to use a tapering jig on a table saw.


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(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

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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