tapered stringers

did a search and couldnt find much…

does anyone have any guidelines or tips for tapering stringers?

i use red cedar and mostly 1ib eps…

Go to some woodworking sites and look up tapering jigs. You will have to make them bigger, since most jigs shown will be for table legs.

isnt there another way> be?lt sander? or planer? maybe some step markings like foiling fins?

Getting your first one is the hardest part.

I have a few different ones according to width and length.

To make the first one, find a piece of stock that is super straight or clamp it to a flat vertical surface.

Mark out the taper you want and snap a line across these points, I have a nice section of heavy wall aluminum angle, 6"x8".

It is heavy enough to stay upright, but light enough to make it slide if pushed.

I then butt the stock against the angle and nudge it up to the bandsaw blade.

It is a matter of then with one hand against the back of the angle and the other hand holding the wood against the fence. Start sawing against the outside edge of the chalk line and do it end to end, it is really darned easy.

After that it is off to the thickness planer, open the throat to the height of the thick end of the wedge ( I have a length of half inch cabinet ply as a sub bed in my planer to prevent the blades from catching the bed ) Turn it on and get a rhythm going as to how many turns of the handle does it take to lower the blades as the same rate of taper. It is like the old Victrola, turn the handle til the music sound right, an even tone as it follows the taper.

If you go tooo slow, you run out of work, too fast, you’ll know what too fast is soon enough

when I had wood ogre mill a piece of bass wood

there were a number of fine even symetrical pieces of stringer material

ten there was the runt of the litter that

sucker was the tik on one end and thin at the other.

I saw a full glass of wedge-tapered stringer…

Dr Philips , a testimonial to famiarity and confidence

with your surface planer,some day I only wish to

implement some of that same confidence

with that runt stringer material

maybe next week…

not tonite…

I hand planed some material that diff left behind

that was split redwood

the glue up was off

I glued it to some bass wood

it goes thick thin along 11’

when I ran it through the planer

it came out true…but side to side

thick one side thin the other

a testimonial to hand hewn

primitive technique.

way before I owned a surface planer…

surface planer = cool tool…

familiarity with cool tool

some day soon…

I promise…


every task makes me better…

If you have a band saw or a table saw you can make a really simple taper jig out of a 6" wide piece of 12 mm ply 6" longer than the stringer and a couple of small battens.

Just screw the battens one at each end of the ply so that they hold the stringer material securely in the taper you want. ie. if the taper goes from 1" to 1/4" hold the stringer material 3/4" further out at one end than the other. Line up the material on the jig with the saw blade for a 1/4" cut so that the wider end of the jig goes in first and slide your fence up to the untapered edge of the jig running paralel to the blade. you’ll figure the easy bits. The idea is that the jig moves paralel to the blade but the jig holds the material to be cut at an angle. Easy??

Then clean it up on a planer.

I used to do this for roofing timbers but I’m sure this can be adapted for this purpose.

Chipper’s come home.

It is not likely that Wood_Ogre would show you that the fastest and easiest way would be to use a hand held skillsaw with a shooting board. Hot melt the stringer stock to the bottom of the shooting board then have at it with the saw. I guess I could do a stringer a few hundred feet long in less than 5 min. , if I had some stringer material that long. Now lets see if anyone can figure out what I am talking about? Some times it is easier to use simple tools! At one time I gave a class on how to build kitchen cabinets with nothing more than a skillsaw, router, and shooting board. e malama pono Wood_Ogre

thanks Jase and Ogre…

ill try out the skil saw…i like to keep things simple ,im not the smartest or most skilled shaper…

any other tips or methods would still be appreciated…



I too have built many kitchen cabinets with the tools you have described. To answer you question about who knows what a shooting board is… here goes. Pictures would make this a lot easier to explain, but I’ll try anyway. I make mine both 4’ and 8’ long using a piece of 3/4 ply about 6-7" wide, lets call it the base board. Attached to the this I glue and screw a piece of 1/4" ply about 2" wide to one edge, lets call this the guide strip. I then run my circular saw against the 1/4" guide strip thus cutting the base board. Now the guide strip and the newely cut edge of the base board are the same distance apart as the edge of the saw’s base to the saw’s blade. To use the shooting board just align the edge of the base board to your marks, clamp to your stock and run your saw against the guide strip. Cut comes out exact every time. Some stringers can be as deep as 6", how do you cut that depth with a circular saw?

Wood_Ogre- What is this thing you call a “shooting board”? Would it be simply a straight-edge/rip guide?

I have worked as a cabinet maker on and off for about 25 years. Never heard of a shooting board. Of course many terms are regional in origin.

Easy way to rip anything on an angle is simply clamp a straight edge to the material, offset the desired amount. I know that my Bosch skilsaw has an offset of exactly 5" from the edge of the sled, to the blade. So, if I want to rip a 9’ board so it’s 1" at one end and 1/2" at the other, I set the straight edge at 6" and 5-1/2. Simple.

All that aside, most skil saws have a 7-1/4" blade. They won’t cut through anything thicker than about 2". A table saw is a better choice. One with a 10" or better yet a 12" blade. Same principle applies, but I usually just screw the straight edge to the piece, using 1/2" ply as the rip guide and 1" screws. The same approach can be used with a band saw, for really thick material.

I forgot to mention that the proper way to rip a tapered stringer using the method I described would require two passes.

Otherwise, the grain will run off to one side. That is, assuming you have a relatively straight grained piece of wood,

in the first place. So, if you deire a stringer that tapers from 1 inch to 1/2 inch, you’d have to rip a 1/4 inch taper off each side, and flip the piece so the cuts were symmetrical.

It has taken me awhile to put this into words, but if you get the jist of the shooting board as I described in a previous post, you can make one to do tapers. If you attach your guide strip to the base board at an angle, then clamp or fasten your stringer material to that set up, you can rip a taper on a table saw. The base board would butt into the fence and because the guide strip is on an angle the stringer material will hang off of the base board more at one end then the other. When ripped the stringer will be cut into a taper. I use this method to cut tapered legs for tables and it works great. I have one in my shop, but I have a hard time posting pictures.

Howzabout drawing diagonal lines on each edge of the plank and belt sanding to the lines?

thats more of what i was thinking … belt sander and gradulal markings…anyone ever do it like that?

i have a very old band saw but have been afraid of band saws in general since my first wood shop teacher in highschool told the class about his former student …

…who was working when his band saws blade broke and cut open his abdomen and he had to stuff his inside back in himself! GNARLY!!

Belt sander? I can’t think of more tedious, less accurate way to do it. Maybe with a surform?

Just curious… I’ve seen stringer patterns with rockers as much as 9". Assuming that the required stringer material would be at least 9", would it still be possible to slice it with a circular or table saw?

For someone without big saws or thickness planers, even a hand plane and sanding block might do the trick… just stick to the line.

You could as JM suggests, mark your line and sand or plane to it if you have time on your hands, I like to take my time over stuff (ask anyone who knows me). You could, if you have less time, clamp/glue/screw a straight edge to either side of your stringer stock at the same position either side to keep your rip saw straight as you work through it. Then give it a planing or sanding to tidy it up. But be warned hand sawing through 6" - 9" stock for several feet is gonna be hard graft.

Personally I’d get my racing leathers on along with my bike helmet and crank up that band saw. With a jig.

Oh, I always thought a shooting board was a couple of pieces of timber screwed together on edge at 90 degrees used for planing end grain with to stop the end grain from splitting. Could just be my English though, I’m from England!!!

Surfifty got the shooting board right. But then Fatbas is also right beacause shooting boards did originate in Europe and were used for trueing up miters and jointing veneers and thin boards useing a plane. The term is international as I have heard it in US , Newzeland, Australia, and germany. The Shooting board was adapted to use with circular saws in the US shortly after the circular saw was invented, and has also been adapted for use with routers. The difference between a straightedge and a shooting board is that on a shooting board the straightedge is monted on a carrier board so that your tool rests on the carrier and is guided by the straightedge. Interesting enough when I lived in Japan the jointers there had a shootingboard that was used for timber framing for tapering large timbers useing a large wooden japanese hand plane. If I recall the term shooting board comes from England and simply means to (shoot) make a straight line. When you build a foundation for a house , You shoot your foundation lines. Some were around here I have a book that tells the history of a lot of old tools and how they evolved and it is very interesting reading. e malama pono Wood_Ogre