Kehoe spline jig chair

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Project by Daren Nelson posted 06-30-2010 07:31 PM 7836 views 9 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After seeing Rowdy’s “Z” chair and commenting that I wanted to make one, I sort of did. I have seen the “Z” chair on the Kehoe dovetail spline jig website, and now here…Looked neat engineering wise, I know it is strong, I have built many things with the jig. I decided to make a “C” chair.

Honeylocust with walnut splines and walnut trim. I am going to make a live edge walnut chair similar soon, with a crotch fan for the back, for myself. This chair is for a friend of mine who I made a honeylocust/walnut splined window seat/plant stand for recently. She loved the combination of wood (so do I)

I knew this joinery would work as a chair because I have made small stretcherless benches (just 3 mitered and splined pieces, like the one above)...that have been stood on end and used as stepstools when the bench was not tall enough setting the way it is supposed to.

So thanks Rowdy for the inspiration.

18 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3676 days

#1 posted 06-30-2010 07:54 PM


-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View chewbuddy13's profile


150 posts in 3313 days

#2 posted 06-30-2010 08:24 PM

That’s neato, i might have to try one of those.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#3 posted 06-30-2010 08:37 PM

These really look cool. I especially like the walnut edge.

I keep wondering how that Z chair would support me at 210 pounds.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3014 days

#4 posted 06-30-2010 09:20 PM

Wow – those step stools are great! I’m trying to imagine standing them on edge – YIKES. Braver sole than I, but amazing to hear it works :)

Beautiful chair.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3383 days

#5 posted 06-30-2010 09:36 PM

That is amazing… I have commented on this type of joinery before.. so I will have to give it a go…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3038 days

#6 posted 06-30-2010 10:30 PM

Great looking chair, I love the walnut trim on the chair. I think there may be a new favorite project type to try on LumberJocks with the Kehoe Splines. I can see all kinds of projects that this could be used on and I look forward to see what’s next!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View TexPenn's profile


459 posts in 3716 days

#7 posted 06-30-2010 11:09 PM

Very Nice!!!

-- Ted, TX or PA

View WoodisBeautiful's profile


27 posts in 2945 days

#8 posted 06-30-2010 11:51 PM

Very nice. Might be time to invest in a new jig…

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 3934 days

#9 posted 07-01-2010 12:30 AM

nobody my size should sit in that chair….the second I would sit on it it would break….believe me…that doesn’t mean the design is bad or the execution…the finish or anything…just that I’m a big guy….and that chair doesn’t look like one I’d sit in.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3117 days

#10 posted 07-01-2010 12:31 AM

Really cool

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 3933 days

#11 posted 07-01-2010 12:37 AM

Barry, a customer who is 240 lbs sat it in, quite confidently…

View dub560's profile


615 posts in 2941 days

#12 posted 07-01-2010 12:53 AM

really? ummmm…maybe i should emulate you style friend

-- Life is enjoyable especially when you borrow from people

View rowdy's profile


375 posts in 3470 days

#13 posted 07-01-2010 01:54 AM

Daren, that is a darn pretty chair, and I am pleased to have my Z chair serve as an inspiration for your work. I am really impressed with the speed with which you turned this out! Neat idea. It took me a long time to complete the Z chair, so you clearly are a much faster woodworker than I am. I like the walnut trim a lot. Those dovetail splines are the real thing when one wants to add a lot of strength to a piece like this. The Kehoe jig is worth the money imho. So, again congratulations on completing some nice pieces of work. Hope to see more.

-- Rowdy in Kechi, Kansas

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#14 posted 07-01-2010 03:33 AM

super looking chair.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TexasTimbers's profile


67 posts in 3843 days

#15 posted 07-01-2010 04:23 PM

Nice work as usual Daren.

Barry, of course there’s a limit to what anything can take and a chair is no different, but the limit in the case of Daren’s chair isn’t the joint, it’s the wood itself provided that the joinery was executed correctly, and with Daren’s ability and experience I have no doubt it was.

I realize it looks flimsy, because when we woodworkers look at it we think of traditional dovetails, traditional splines, or traditional dovetail splines. No way any of those would hold up except to light use possibly. The 1º taper really is the key to the phenomenal strength. Non-tapered joints aren’t going to essentially “fuse” together like our tapered splines, glue or no glue. When the splines are tapped into the grooves it’s as if the joint is a solid piece of wood.

The first Z Chair I built, I dry fitted the splines and sat down on it with no glue anywhere, and it did not budge. I only weighed 165 pounds (at that time) but still it says a lot about why the joinery is so strong. It doesn’t take much force to tap them in – but tapping them back out after dry fitting is a different matter.

I get asked a lot if I’ve ever done any kind of shear testing etc. and although I have contemplated it, I think that opens a can of worms. “You are not a testing facility what do you know?” or “I see many problems with how you conducted your test.” etc. so I figure unless I can get Texas Tech University (the tornado research guys) to agree to test a couple of dozen joints it’s probably a losing proposition for me to attempt my own tests. So far every skeptic has become a believer once they use it for themselves and that’s good enough for us.

-- "Sure, listen to what the experts have to say, just don't let it get in the way of your woodworking."

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