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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Default Cutting tapered columns

    I'm looking for an easy method of measuring, marking and cutting to length round tapered wood columns. These are columns that are about 8' long with a 10" diam at the base and 8" diam at the top. These columns also have flutes all around. Any ideas out there?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,081

    Default Re: Cutting tapered columns

    Are they fully fluted from end to end or are there smooth shank areas at the top and bottom? How much do you need to cut off? Are the columns solid or hollow, if hollow, how thick is the wall? Will the columns be load bearing or decorative?
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Default Re: Cutting tapered columns

    Quote Originally Posted by A. Spruce View Post
    Are they fully fluted from end to end or are there smooth shank areas at the top and bottom? How much do you need to cut off? Are the columns solid or hollow, if hollow, how thick is the wall? Will the columns be load bearing or decorative?
    Fully fluted, hollow, 1" thick walls, need to cut about 3' off, more decorative, it's for an antique back bar.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Cutting tapered columns

    Cutting that much off will all but eliminate the taper, at least visually. Having said that, you can cut it easily enough with a circular saw, all you have to do is mark your cut line.

    Marking and cutting ideas:
    1 - attach a string to a board that will span across the end. Tie a pencil at the desired cut length, and trace the pencil around the column, twisting the stick on the end as you do. Freehand the cut.

    2 - Make yourself a cutting jig, again, referencing from the end. Screw a plywood plate on the end, cut a hole in a second plate and place it around the desired cutting location, minus the edge of the saw shoe. The hole should be as close to the column diameter as possible. Run stretchers from the top plate to the second plate, secure it's position with shims, band clamp, or duct tape against the column. Run the saw around the column, following the second plate.

    You will likely need to cant the angle of the saw shoe to compensate for the taper of the column.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    2,118

    Default Re: Cutting tapered columns

    Cutting columns square is easy if you've got a square end to measure from. Simply make several measurements round the column and 'connect the dots' so to speak. More often than not you won't have anything square to come from. With fluted columns you can measure from where the fluting starts and connect the dots, or you can use the universal approach of a flexible straight edge wrapped around the column (the wider the better) with it as even as you can make it- check the gaps at the narrow end of the column and make them all equal. A long strip of cardboard makes a good flexible straight edge as does strips of fascia metal. It should go around at least 1 1/2 times. Get it snug then tape it together close to where you want to cut- don't tape it to the column yet. Make your measurement and tape to column there, then even out the gaps like before. Mark and cut just outside the line. Check your work with a framing square held tight to the column- measure the gap at the opposite side then check in the exact reverse position. do this in at least 4 places in an "X" pattern. If the gaps are the same you're square and you can trim the slight excess easily. If those gaps are different find where the shortest gap in and mark the column. Go directly across from that as before and measure. Deduct the short gap from this measurement, that's how much has to be removed there. Repeat the straight-edge process and draw a line around again lightly. Now check the gaps between the points between the first two, this time measuring to your new light line. Move the light line as needed keeping the opposites to the original points. Now you will be perfectly square. Second problem will be cutting- I'm presuming a circular blade. The blade will have to be set square to the saw or the undercut will remove too much material ahead of and behind the blade and if you try to align the front of the blade the back will cut too much. Just make the cut square then when dome use the framing square and a belt sander to remove the little extra material in the inside of the cut until it's flat across everywhere. Pull your overall measurements from here and connect those dots- they will be right on the money now.

    It takes longer to explain this than do it once you get the hang of it so don't let the long reply deter you. This method works for all shapes of columns, fluted or plain, tapered or not, of almost any size and gets them all perfectly square and flat. Now if the darn brick mason or concrete finisher would just get his porch done this good setting porch columns would be a breeze

    Phil
    Last edited by Mastercarpentry; 03-08-2014 at 01:33 PM.

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