The table saw is one of the most versatile tools you could own in your workshop. Whether you’re making cross cuts, rip cuts, or dimensioning boards, or angled cuts, a table saw can do it all.
However, when it comes to making angled cuts, there will be times when a table saw’s fence just can’t cut it. A good table saw fence is one that sits perpendicular to the machine’s table and parallel to a 90°-standing blade. As is, the fence doesn’t allow you to produce angled rip cuts on boards, leaving you to either “eye it” (DANGEROUS! NOT RECOMMENDED) or get a handy angle cutting jig.
An angle-cutting jig often referred to as a taper jig, is an accessory to the table saw which allows you to cut at a specific angle through your board. This accessory attaches to the fence and has a mitering arm which can be locked to a specific angle, giving you the ability to produce consistently straight and properly angled cuts. If you’re making a table and want to give it legs that are tapered towards the center of the table, then your best bet is to use a table saw with an angle cutting jig fitted onto the unit’s fence.
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How to use an Angle-Cutting Jig
The main purpose of an angle-cutting jig is obviously to produce angled cuts on your boards. Your fence, since it is perpendicular and to the work table, will not give you the ability to make flawless, angled cuts without an angle-cutting accessory.
An angle-cutting jig looks like a large compass (the circle-drawing tool, not the where-is-north tool). The locking mechanism locks the angle in which each bar is set.
After you’ve determined at what angle you want to cut and have locked the jig in place, you simply need to push one side of the jig against the fence. Your board is placed on alongside the other bar, placing it at an angle as it passes through the table saw’s blade.
One common misconception about the angle-cutting jig is that it needs to be locked to the rip fence in order to give it stability. This isn’t true in most cases unless you make your own jig using your own creativity and specifications. However, a pre-made angle-cutting jig simply needs to rest on the fence while the user applies a slight pressure on the board, forcing it flush against the fence while passing the board over the saw’s blade.
Benefits of Having an Angle-Cutting Jig
The main purpose of an angle-cutting jig is to give you precision when making angled cuts through your boards. With one of these fixed onto your table saw’s fence, you don’t need to worry about cutting at the wrong angle since the mitering gauge will give you an exact reading of how tapered the cut will become.
In addition, an angle-cutting jig for your table saw will let you produce repeated tapered cuts on numerous boards. If you’re making four tapered legs for your table, you’ll want the legs to be identical, and an angle-cutting jig can ensure that you do.
Angle-Cutting Jig for Table Saws Buying Guide
When it comes to using an angle-cutting jig for your table saw, there are two options available to you. First, you can make your own using whatever scrap boards you have. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing or you incorrectly follow instructions found on YouTube, it could end up pretty badly.
The second option is buying a pre-made angle-cutting jig. They’re not hard to find, but the numerous models for sale can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. To help you in your endeavor, we’ve compiled a list of the most important factors to consider when purchasing an angle-cutting jig for your table saw.
One benefit of getting a pre-made angle-cutting jig from a large manufacturer is that the jig is made of durable materials. The most common of which is aluminum, but stainless steel jigs are also available if you have the moola.
Your angle-cutting jig should be durable and built to last. Corrosion and rust should be no match against the construction of your jig, especially if you’re working in moist environments like in your garage, basement, or construction sites. In addition to being able to withstand all sorts of damage, the material used to make the jig will ultimately affect how effective it is at making tapered cuts.
Most angle-cutting jigs are designed in the same fashion, but there are some key factors in the jig’s overall design that you need to consider. First of all, take a look at the handle. It should be comfortable to hold and be placed in a spot on the angle jig that won’t endanger your hand or fingers as you pass the board over the saw’s blade. You also need to consider whether the jig was designed for lefties or righties (position of the handle), but there are models that can accommodate both.
Dimensions and Capacity
The size of the jig is of the utmost importance. The jig cannot be too big or too small to use on your table saw. This means you’ll need to measure the length of the rip fence on your table saw and the maximum distance between the blade and fence.
The size of the jig also plays a role in determining how large a board it can hold. If you have a 24-inch jig, it can hold almost any-sized board firmly as it passes through the blade. Smaller jigs mean less stability as the size of the board increases.
The mitering gauge will be your one way of determining the angle of the tapered cut. Most models have a maximum mitering capacity of 15° or about 3 inches per foot, so cutting at small angles will not be a problem at all.
A table saw’s rip fence doesn’t allow you to produce angled cuts since it sits perpendicular to the table and cannot be mitered in any direction. If you want to rip your boards at an angle, you need to have an angle-cutting jig.
This is the only surefire way to produce identical tapers across several similar-sized boards. This is especially useful if you want to make tapered legs for furniture without the risk of cutting too much or too little out of each leg.