Canary wood box with purple heart splines on home made jig

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Project by MadMark posted 05-13-2016 08:38 PM 1194 views 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

According to the catalogs splined joints are the latest thing. I’ve seen jigs going for over $100 in three different catalogs. This really peaves me as you can make a jig from scraps for the cost of four screws. In fact this box was my first attempt with that simple jig and I think the results speak for themselves.

The box is from a resawn piece of canary wood (possibly yellow heart) the splines are 3/32” slices of purpleheart that really appear black.The spline depth was intentionally set to just break thru the inside corners as an internal detail.

Normally we make the boxes with a bottom bead instead of splines. The boxes become a little garish with both.


-- Madmark -

10 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9611 posts in 3629 days

#1 posted 05-14-2016 12:20 AM

I feel the same way…

How can anyone pay $100+ for such a simple Jig to make?
... only plutoctrats that have more $$$ than brains, I guess… :)

Your splines came out Just as good! LOL … for just pennies… less than $1.00 LOL

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View BurlyBob's profile (online now)


4091 posts in 1842 days

#2 posted 05-14-2016 01:58 AM

I’m totally with you Mark, I think my jig has 6 screws though. Guess I’m a little extravagant !

View HokieKen's profile


2333 posts in 715 days

#3 posted 05-14-2016 12:13 PM

Nice box Mark. How about a pic of the inside? I’m curious about how the splines look internally.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View dalepage's profile


177 posts in 417 days

#4 posted 05-14-2016 01:19 PM

I made my spline jig to ride the fence. The first time I used it, the joints were perfect.

HokieKen, one can set his blade height so that the splines do not show inside. If you wanted a spline inside to hold a shallow tray, you can penetrate the box. The resulting spline will keep the tray from going to the bottom. However, it makes a wider spline on the outside. That can be a design element if you choose to do that.

View dalepage's profile


177 posts in 417 days

#5 posted 05-14-2016 03:34 PM

HokieKen, here’s my spline sled:

I put stick-on felt to keep from marring the box during the process. Note how the jig rides the fence, sort of like someone who can’t decide to be liberal or conservative.

View dalepage's profile


177 posts in 417 days

#6 posted 05-14-2016 03:37 PM

Apologies for the multiple posts. I can’t figure out how to delete the copies.

View WhoMe's profile


1531 posts in 2820 days

#7 posted 05-14-2016 03:49 PM

I didn’t use any screws in mine. So far I have not used mine on my table saw, only my router table.
Nice box, and you’re right, the sounds do look black in the photos. But the contrast looks great.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View Boxguy's profile


2272 posts in 1844 days

#8 posted 05-15-2016 09:03 AM

Mark, I like the proportions and the see-through top and the idea of using the plastic as a slider. Drilling through the handle to reinforce the pull is an effective design feature. Your jig is effective too, especially for smaller boxes that just use two splines per corner. I agree with you about expensive jigs to cut spline slots being foolish. I made my jig with plywood, a 2×6, a plastic guide, and a tree branch. Pretty basic stuff.

Mark, I am not trying to just be critical of your work, you have made a fine box here and your jig design is effective. However, I wanted to offer you some food for thought on your next similar project., next time you are in a jig making mood you might consider this design. It gives you greater flexibility without fussy adjustments and holds larger boxes with more stability. This design also gives you the ability to set your depth directly on the jig. If you 45 all your corners the slot gap will not show on your back board, and it will help your front sliding board center itself if there is any play when you close the lid. 45s also avoid the end grain look. This jig for cutting 45s is easy to make and is safe and fast to use. Finally, I have been using rare earth magnets to keep sliding lids closed on my boxes. It works well. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1029 days

#9 posted 05-15-2016 04:32 PM

Mitered corners slow the production process in the clamping stage. More time & fiddle & big band clamps on a small box is tough. There are 1/4” boxes, no way to hide a magnet. Besides our boxes latch closed by the slot width, the end piece dado is 1/32” narrower than the side groves, the lexan is slightly bevelled on the bottom and rides up the slot locking the lid without any additional help.

Mitered corners produce a problem forming the handle making installation & centering hard. We do miter corners on music boxes & etc., just not for ‘working’ boxes.


-- Madmark -

View Boxguy's profile


2272 posts in 1844 days

#10 posted 05-18-2016 07:59 AM

Mark, best of luck on your sales. I understand the importance of simplicity and speed in the market place if your emphasis is on quantity. Band clamps save me time, but you obviously have a system that works well for you. I hope you continue to do well. Live long and prosper.

-- Big Al in IN

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