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DIY Wood Tapered Table Legs

We recently had a request for a custom desk and our client wanted tapered, decorative table legs with square edges.  We had never made these before so we had to figure out a way to make them efficiently and reliably.  Now I'm not here to say this is the best way to accomplish the task......but here is how we did it.

For these legs we started with some standard rustic pine 4x4 posts.  We cut each to roughly 31 inches to begin, then jointed and planed them to square them up and give them a nice hard edge.  We then cut each to exactly 29.25 inches in length.  We always cut lumber long prior to milling because we typically have to cut the ends to finally square the stock. 


We set the posts on 1 inch boards so we could get our clamps underneath and clamped a 5.5 inch board to the top of the set to act as a router guide.

Using a 1½ inch round nose bit we just ran the router against the board rail, cutting a nice even groove across all four posts.  This is the same bit you might use to cut juice grooves in your cutting boards.

Once we had the first side cut all we had to do was flip the posts, re-clamp and do it again until all four sides were complete.  Each time we set our posts to cut, we made sure to use a long clamp on all of them to keep them from shifting. 


You might ask why didn’t we just use a wood lathe to taper these legs.  Our clients very specifically requested tapered legs with square edges so that ruled out the lathe. These will eventually be painted and distressed which is why we chose the rustic pine.

To add an extra bit of decorative molding, we lowered our blade on our table saw and, using the miter guide, cut grooves about 1.5 inches below the router cuts.  We set our saw fence to run against so each one would be perfectly even.

We made a small jig our of some scrap wood.  It’s just essentially a thin plate with a 1x1 block glued to it to act as a backstop. 

This would allow us to place this under the top of each post and use our jointer and several passes to cut the tapered edge on each side.  

At any rate, now we have four matching legs to build our desk.

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