How do I mortise turned, tapered legs?
I bought preturned legs from an online company to make a table. But I've altered my original plans: Now I want to add lower stretchers between the legs. How can I bore sockets into these tapered segments so the stretchers will be parallel with the upper aprons?
—James Garrison, Pensacola, Fla.
To keep the stretchers parallel with your upper aprons, James, you need a simple jig to support the leg so it lies flat on its square, upper section while drilling the sockets.
Start with a base of 3⁄4 " plywood or solid wood slightly wider and longer than the leg, and attach a pair of short cleats to the edge and end of one corner, where shown above. Place the leg's square section against the cleats and clamp it in place. Next, make a V-shaped block to support the leg beneath your layout marks for the stretcher socket. Attach it to the base with brads or screws so the block supports the leg without lifting it. Finally, drill the socket on your drill press. Repeat for the remaining legs. (To make a rectangular mortise, simply drill multiple holes of equal depth, using a fence to keep the jig in a straight line. Chisel out the waste between overlapping holes.)