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Boxland: Work Stations and Boxing Tips #2: Spline Making Jig

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Blog entry by Boxguy posted 830 days ago 4510 reads 25 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Glue Up Table Part 2 of Boxland: Work Stations and Boxing Tips series Part 3: Cutting Spline Slots »

The Spline Cutting Jig

I use this jig to make all my splines. Basically it is set up to use the band saw to cut triangles out of a long thin strip of wood. It is just a board with a runner for the guide slot and another board fastened at a 45 degree angle. Cutting small pieces on a table or radial saw is a disaster. Your fingers wind up in wrong places and the small pieces fly all over the shop (not good). This is a job for the band saw! If it is done well the splines will look like this…

A quick word about fit: Once you have cut a strip of wood to approximate size let’s say 1/4 inch thick by 1 inch wide by 18 inches long, you fine-tune the fit with the planer so that this strip will easily, but barely slip back and forth in the spline slots you have cut in the box. If you make this fit too tight you will have to fight the work and pound the splines into place in the slot. A slip fit lets the splines and wood swell a little with the glue. A thin bit of glue will not show, but a spline that doesn’t bottom out in the slot looks really bad when the box is finished.

Since splines are often made from expensive and rare woods, I try not to waste any of it. Why make a square spline for a triangular slot? So as you see in the picture you use the jig to cut a 45 across the strip and then FLIP IT OVER and make your next cut forming a triangle. The width of your strip really determines the size of the triangular spline. If you need a smaller spline, make your strip more narrow. Don’t try to cut smaller 45s it just doesn’t work. I usually push the strip a little beyond the blade before making the second cut so I get a flat spot at the point of the triangle. I use the flattened point to push the splines in place. It is easier on my fingers.

Any scrap will do when you are experimenting with a jig, but when I have perfected a jig I try to make a pretty one. It makes time in the shop more fun, and I can take pride in using it. This one is made from a scrap of bird’s eye maple and eucalyptus veneer.

This jig works better if it is thicker and allows the triangles to fall when cut and then be pushed slightly out of the way by the jig after you have cut through the strip. Don’t push too hard as you cut, let the blade do the work. Pushing makes the triangles fly and you want to keep the triangles on the table of the bandsaw. The rough edges of the bandsaw cuts don’t matter. You will just trim off the excess sticking out beyond the box edges with the bandsaw or sander anyhow. I use the hole in the end to hang the jig on the saw between uses.

Later I’ll show more about splines. Have fun, and keep boxing.

-- Big Al in IN



10 comments so far

View patron's profile

patron

13000 posts in 1965 days


#1 posted 830 days ago

this is a BUENO JIG

and very nice looking too

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Roger's profile

Roger

14311 posts in 1428 days


#2 posted 829 days ago

Very kool Al. Thnx

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10711 posts in 1314 days


#3 posted 829 days ago

Nice jig. I too cut triangular splines on the bandsaw but your jig would save me a lot of time as I have to mark each spline and then cut along the lines. Thanks for posting this.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Philzoel's profile

Philzoel

272 posts in 967 days


#4 posted 827 days ago

Big Al. How do you cut the slot for your spline? Before you glue or after and what type of jig????

Thanks.

-- Phil Zoeller louisville, KY

View dustyal's profile

dustyal

1196 posts in 2099 days


#5 posted 722 days ago

well, don’t have a band saw…. I’ve been using scroll saw and that is a bit sloppy. I could build this jig and hand feed it since scroll saw does not have a miter slot…

thanks for the ideas… keep ‘em coming.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View The Box Whisperer's profile

The Box Whisperer

552 posts in 694 days


#6 posted 618 days ago

any advice for the guy without a bandsaw or planer? or as I prefer to say, a tablesaw specialist? Ive been cutting little 1/2 X 1/2 X 1/8 squares on the tablesaw, making sure to protect my face very well and then sweeping up 50 or so splines off the floor…...a little ghetto, I know…..

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14878 posts in 1813 days


#7 posted 548 days ago

Nice job, I make my splines both on the table saw and band saw. A zero clearance throat plate on the table saw is critical. I really like this band saw jig I’ll give this a try.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View FrankSpillman's profile

FrankSpillman

7 posts in 1317 days


#8 posted 515 days ago

I agree totally about the band saw being best, but some people still don’t have one. I was very successful cutting splines on my table saw using a cross cut sled and a jig similar to yours, also making sure the blade just cleared the top of the wood. Just an alternative for those without a bandsaw yet.

View Boxguy's profile

Boxguy

1439 posts in 891 days


#9 posted 515 days ago

Frank, Thanks for the comment. I would use a simple miter box and a hand saw before I tried working on such small pieces with a table saw. Wear a face shield and best of luck.

-- Big Al in IN

View Roger's profile

Roger

14311 posts in 1428 days


#10 posted 402 days ago

Quick & perfect.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

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