Dovetailed splines defeat splits

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Blog entry by Paul Sellers posted 02-13-2012 08:29 PM 2346 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought this was really interesting and you might be interested to. For some time I have made picture frames with two dovetailed wooden splines about a saw kerf thick by ½” wide to hold the corners together rather than a nail and glue alone.

A litre, for metric members, is equal to 1 kilogram so here we have 5 kilos, which is a fraction over 11 pounds, hanging from a splined joint made from a moulded section of pine ¾” x ¾”.

I thought others might rise to the challenge and demonstrate a method using wood and glue alone that matched or surpassed this in strength.

-- Paul Sellers, UK

10 comments so far

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Paul Sellers

278 posts in 2599 days

#1 posted 02-13-2012 08:32 PM

Also, notice the extra leverage length before the joint finally fails.

-- Paul Sellers, UK

View Brit's profile


7387 posts in 2871 days

#2 posted 02-13-2012 08:54 PM

Brilliant demo Paul. The slow-motion bit was terrific, especially the sound. That is one strong joint for it’s size.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2719 days

#3 posted 02-14-2012 02:41 AM

An amazing demonstration of joinery BUT it hurt me when that beautiful joint broke. I try very hard NOT to break mine!

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

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Paul Sellers

278 posts in 2599 days

#4 posted 02-14-2012 05:11 AM

Me too, but in the interests of my fellow woodworkers I sacrificed this one. I will show you in hte next video how this is made. V quick and simple.

-- Paul Sellers, UK

View CalebMexquite's profile


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#5 posted 02-14-2012 02:07 PM


View Mauricio's profile


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#6 posted 02-16-2012 07:26 PM

Great experiment, thanks! Four corners like that would be way stronger than any picture frame needs to be.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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Paul Sellers

278 posts in 2599 days

#7 posted 02-16-2012 08:17 PM

Hi Caleb,

Perhaps we can talk. If you will email me a landline I will call you when I am over there next week.

Thanks for the comment.

I just posted the steps for making the whole frame so others can make it. It can be made in any wood and almost any size. I have made frames inside frames to make built-up frames and shadow-box frames. There is no end to what you can make. I even make box lids this way:

-- Paul Sellers, UK

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Paul Sellers

278 posts in 2599 days

#8 posted 02-16-2012 08:18 PM

Mauricio, You are right. Superstrong and superfast too; all in one project

-- Paul Sellers, UK

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Jorge G.

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#9 posted 02-16-2012 08:31 PM

I can only think of a pegged half lap miter that might be stronger, but with a frame this thin this is a great idea. I liked your blog as well, I loved seeing a frame made by hand. :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

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Paul Sellers

278 posts in 2599 days

#10 posted 02-16-2012 08:47 PM

I think that we should always try to think outside the box when it comes to hand tools. What I did here was use tools in an alternative way. The saw for forming rebates for instance was a method we used occasionally to speed up a job when we didn’t have access to the right machine or hand tool. The tongue and groove plane is traditionally used for making match board, tongue and groove panelling, flooring and so on. The rest is common use of hand tools.

-- Paul Sellers, UK

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