Edge joining boards

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Forum topic by DynaBlue posted 02-05-2010 10:40 PM 3110 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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131 posts in 2610 days

02-05-2010 10:40 PM

I am about to begin making another piece of furniture (stickley #702 bookcase repro), this one for resale at a local furniture store, and I have a question about edge joining boards. Normally I would joint both edges, aim for a slight bit of center spring and glue them up and call them good. I was unable to find plans online or in my library that were similar enough to the bookcase so I went to The Lodge at Torrey Pines (I could just live’s all done in A&C/G&G furniture and room construction) and made some measurements off an original and drew it up in SketchUp.

During my exam it appeared that the edge-glued surfaces were in fact splined in some cases but not all. The question I have is this: Would running a spline down the long edge strengthen the joint, weaken the joint or just help align the top and bottom surfaces without significantly impacting strength either way? Will it have any impact in the longer term? Obviously Stickley used it for some reason and the piece is still standing strong but given that it is slightly more work, is it value-added work?



-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

11 replies so far

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2594 days

#1 posted 02-05-2010 11:07 PM

This should be of NO help to you, whatsoever, but—as a former San Diegan—please tell me you didn’t miss the opportunity to dine at A.R. Valentien, while you were there ;-)

-- -- Neil

View PaulfromVictor's profile


224 posts in 2765 days

#2 posted 02-05-2010 11:16 PM

In theory, there is more glueing surface with a spline, but I read somewhere, FWW I believe that joint tests proved the opposite. I would not spline unless you feel it is somehow a design element.

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2754 days

#3 posted 02-05-2010 11:26 PM

I think splining was done primarily for alignment purposes, but the glues they used in the old days wasn’t as good as we have now, so maybe they were thinking of strength as well. If you don’t want to spline you could always use biscuits for alignment. You don’t need anything but glue otherwise.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View russv's profile


262 posts in 2589 days

#4 posted 02-05-2010 11:55 PM

watch out for biscuits they can telescope


-- where to go because you don't want no stinking plastic!

View Bothus's profile


439 posts in 2596 days

#5 posted 02-06-2010 12:09 AM

View DynaBlue's profile


131 posts in 2610 days

#6 posted 02-06-2010 12:11 AM

Thanks for the answers! Since the splines are mostly contained within the vertical sides of the cabinet and would only be visible when viewing endgrain of the top I don’t think it’s a design element. Mainly I was just surprised to see the splines in the first place so I turned to a bevy of experience beyond mine to see if I missed a chapter on joining edges. Maybe the factory had some less than straight boards to start with and deemed the splines essential for minimzing waste while aligning the surfaces.

Neil- No, we didn’t have a chance to dine as my wife was kind enough to drive us up there before work one morning. But, like everything in SD County, it’s only 20 minutes away!

Bothus- No, that’s not the cabinet. Here is a picture from the Lodge.

From my reading this is a Harvey Ellis design, unique due to the lack of pulls, instead the key was used to unlock and open the doors. I think I’ll veer from original by including some repro “D” ring handles.

-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2488 days

#7 posted 02-06-2010 12:15 AM

Since you’re doing a Stickley piece, I’m assuming that you’ll be working with oak. I’ve done hundreds of edge-glued oak joints – some with biscuits, some with dowels, but mostly just milled flat and glued together and have never had a problem – as long as my edges were dead square with the faces of the boards.

I’ve never subscribed to the theory of deliberately trying to “spring fit” a glueup. IMO, that introduces stress that can eventually make the joint open up.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View DynaBlue's profile


131 posts in 2610 days

#8 posted 02-06-2010 12:36 AM

Here is the sketchup model I made from my rough measurements. I’ve modified the design slightly to put less curve on the front stretcher but will probably go with the more authentic arc in the final design. The model has the proper joinery on the cabinet proper but the doors I haven’t accurately modeled yet, that’s why they have overlapping line marks still. I’ll finish the model before I start cutting the wood. It’s difficult to see in the small model or the picture but the bookcase is actually two compartments divided by the vertical between the doors.

Sawkerf- Yes, QSWO, I have about 100 bf sitting in my house right now just waiting for me to do something productive to it. Dunno why I was planning on springing the joint as I’d not done that on previous projects but had been reading up on my intended methods of destructing this project and saw that mentioned repeatedly. Should just stick with what I know…I know better than trying something new for a real piece.

-- Mistake? No, that's just an unexpected design opportunity....

View Bothus's profile


439 posts in 2596 days

#9 posted 02-06-2010 12:59 AM

Thanks, I found that one right after I asked the question and went back real quick to edit my comment but I guess you answer too quick.

Good job on SketchUp. Looks great.


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 2453 days

#10 posted 02-06-2010 02:29 AM

I made a headboard for our king sized bed and had to edge glue all the boards and I used biscuits. In fact, the entire headboard was made with no mechanical fasteners at all. All biscuits and dowels.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#11 posted 02-06-2010 04:56 AM

Glue by it’s self will do the job.

-- Custom furniture

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