learn how to build angled tapered legs out of oak wood, for mid-century furniture

Angled and tapered legs are suitable for mid-century furniture. Our latest project was about building a set of two mid-century nightstands with routed finger pull drawer fronts made out of oak wood. For those, we needed to match some oak tapered legs. We could only find simple round legs at the local stores, didn’t want to buy them from the local stores, so we decided to build them from scratch.

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Making angled and tapered legs for furniture

They had to meet 3 conditions:

  • first: to have a trapezoidal shape
  • second: to be positioned at a certain angle
  • third: to have a tapered shape

As usual, we started by designing them on the computer, using FreeCAD. That way, we could be sure that their length would be proportional to the height of the nightstands, the positioning angles would be correct, and the shape would look great in combination with the nightstands’ boxes. So, we drew the trapezoidal shape, and we got all the dimensions: the positioning angle, the angles needed for cutting the sides of the legs and all the other dimensions needed.

With all those info on our list, we went into the workshop and started building them.

Finding the best oak timber

We searched for a wide and long beautiful piece of oak timber without any cracks, big knots, or white areas. We wanted to get two sets of 4 tapered legs with a very smooth aspect, to match the entire look of the nightstands.

Planing the oak timber

Usually, when we need to cut a lot of narrow boards for small projects out of a wider board, we straighten it on one face and square it on each edge.

the beautiful oak lank from which we will build legs for mid-century nightstands
The oak board

Getting the narrow boards

Then we cut narrow boards along each edge with the band saw and we square again the edges of the original one to repeat the operation.

That’s what we did here, too. We got all the strips needed for our project. We took the narrow boards and using the thicknesser we planed them to get the right thickness and width.

these are the planks, at the right dimensions (thickness and width) from which we will cut the legs for mid-century furniture
The planks at the right thickness and width

Cutting all the pieces

We cut 8 pieces to the right length and at the right angle (20 degrees). First, we cut one end of the board, then we flipped and turned the board and we made the second cut after we carefully measured the length of the leg.

the oak legs with the ends cut to the right angle
The oak pieces cut at the right angle

Cutting the legs to get the tapered shape

We drew a line on one face of each piece, from one end to the other.

we drew a line on one face to cut the oak pieces so we get the tapered shape of the legs
The line is drawn on one face

We cut them with the band saw, without using any jig, along the drawn line. We were very careful to follow the line, to get a cut as straight as possible.

we cut the legs along the drawn line to get the tapered shape of the legs
Cutting the legs along the drawn line

As you can see, one edge of the legs remained planed. We used it to cut the sides at the right angle, to get the trapezoidal shape.

Cutting the legs to get the trapezoidal shape

We tilted the band saw table to the previously calculated angle (5 degrees) and then we cut one side of the leg.

the first side of the wooden legs was cut at 5 degrees angle
Cutting the first side of the legs, at 5 degrees angle

We turned the leg to the other side and we cut it to get two identical cuts.

turning the oak leg and cutting the second side at 5 degrees angle
Cutting the second side of the legs at 5 degrees angle

This is how the angled tapered legs looked after all those cuts.

the oak wood tapered legs needed for our set of two mid century nightstands
The tapered wood legs before finishing

Sanding the angled legs

We already got the shape of the legs. All we had to do, was to sand them with 80 grit sandpaper to smooth them down and then to finish the sharp edges. For that, we used the belt sander. It was the fastest way to remove all the traces from the cuts.

we sanded all the faces of tapered legs, before routing the sharp edges
The legs with all the faces sanded

Routing the sharp edges

We knew from the beginning that we will chamfer them by using the same router bit we used for the nightstands, a 45-degree chamfer router bit.

But, there are a lot of other methods to make them look gorgeous. From this point, there is only about preferences. The edges could be slightly sanded, or beveled, or they can be routed with other different router bits.

the shape of the tapered wooden legs needed for our mid century nightstands
The wooden leg with the final shape

Sanding all the sides with 150 grit sandpaper

In the end, we sanded the chamfered edges and all the sides with the belt sander secured on the worktable, using 150 grit sandpaper. All the pieces became smooth and ready to be varnished.

we sanded the chamfered edges of the legs with 150 grit sandpaper using the belt sander
Sanding the legs with 150 grit sandpaper using the belt sander

Finishing with water-based primer and varnish

We finished them with a water-based primer and water-based varnish, sanding them with 320 grit sandpaper after the primer dried. The final result was more than satisfying.

finishing the angled tapered legs with water-based primer and varnish
Angled tapered legs for mid-century furniture

This is the way you can have simple yet stunning angled tapered legs for your mid-century furniture.

the way the angled tapered legs look after installing them
The oak tapered legs attached to the nightstands

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