Taper-Cutting Parts At High Volume

Pros discuss equipment, set-ups, and jigs. April 10, 2005

We are manufacturing a furniture part that is a tapered cut. Our runs are getting too big for a table saw and I need to find a better way. We run about 1000 bd ft. a day, 1" x 6" lumber. The part is 32" long x 2-5/8" on one end and 1-3/4” on the other. I have tried it on a straight line with an older Diehl machine. I was not able to do it on this machine but it is older and the belt is pretty worn. I would purchase a newer machine if I could make these cuts on it. Does anyone have experience running tapered cuts on a straight line? Is there a manufacturer who makes a straightline with an adjustable fence for tapered cuts? Or does anyone know of a better way than running it on the table saw?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor A:
Consider a bandsaw. With a 1 x 6 x 32" you could stack up as much as maybe 10 or 12 parts in a fixture and saw the tapers all at once. Or, if you used an overarm router you would be able to make the taper cut and end up with a milled finished surface in one step instead of having to joint or otherwise machine the sawn surface afterwards.

From contributor B:
I think you are on the right track. The bandsaw and pin router would be slower than what you are doing now. It seems if you could position an angled reference point it would work. Contact some of the straight line makers and give them the challenge. For a sale they will go for it. Let them do the work for you.

From contributor C:
I must be missing something here, because if I needed a lot of tapered parts like that, I'd set up a jig on my table saw, and use a power feeder to run them through. I've made runs like that in the past without the feeder, but for bigger runs, I'd set up a feeder or two. What am i missing here??

From contributor B:
You need a sled or fixture in a sliding table. You couldn't set up an angled fence and run the pieces with a power feed to get the cut he wants. I can picture a fixture on a straight line rip that references the piece and you push the fixture forward to get it started on the chain. The fixture would travel maybe a foot then you pull it back and reload it with the next piece. You’d need a couple of bushings on a rail to secure the fixture. You need to make sure the piece gets firmly gripped by the chain exactly where you want it to go.

From contributor D:
Build a box, or as some would call it a sled. The bottom of the box is thicker on one end than the other, to the amount required to get your taper. Make the box wide enough to put several pieces side by side, and run the box through a planer. If the planer is wide enough, you will get 10 or more at each pass.

From contributor E:
I think the SLR is the way to go, especially with a jig such as the one Rick mentioned. If cost is an issue, you may want to check the auctions to replace your Diehl. I picked up a Mattison 202 that is in great shape for less than 3k.

From contributor F:
Depending on how things go, here's a low tech way I made about 4 dozen tapered pieces. I took a piece of ply and attached a guide that fit into the miter gauge slot. I ran it through the saw to cut the edge. I then aligned a piece on it how I wanted it cut. Then I attached a couple of cleats on it to hold the back and side of my piece. It works like a tapering jig except this works off the miter slot instead of the rip fence. If you have a big enough blade, I think you could cut multiples at the same time.

From contributor G:
If you can work out the straightline, I am sure it will be very fast. Otherwise, and for precision, I'm with contributor D. You can do very accurate tapers with that sort of planer jig. That's a bit more than I usually take off on one pass, but you can always do it in two if it's an issue.

Be sure to glue up a solid jig, as the down pressure in a big planer is pretty intense. Don't use screws – a guy who used to work for me (and quickly, I might add) drove sheetrock screws just below the bottom of a planer sled and didn't notice. He scored the planer bed badly. No screws equals no stupid accidents or nicks in the knives.