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First time using/making a spline joint.

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Forum topic by ARCarpenter posted 02-23-2016 12:43 AM 699 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ARCarpenter

26 posts in 672 days


02-23-2016 12:43 AM

This is my first time cutting and using splines in a miter joint and I am really happy with how it turned out. I am ready to do some more. I do have some questions though. How do y’all cut the spline inserts? Is there an easier way than just guessing, cutting, and then recutting?


14 replies so far

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shampeon

1711 posts in 1645 days


#1 posted 02-23-2016 12:52 AM

Flush cut saw, a piece of cardboard, and a sharp chisel or block plane to clean up the final bit.

Cut the keys slightly oversized, and if you’re using expensive material, cut squares into triangles. Glue in the keys. Press the flush cut saw (good ones are $10-$25) against a piece of cardboard and trim the excess off the keys after the glue dries. The cardboard protects the finish in case you’re a bit off angle. You’ll have a very small bit of the key protruding. Clean this up with the chisel or block plane.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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ARCarpenter

26 posts in 672 days


#2 posted 02-23-2016 01:09 AM

Im sorry. I don’t think I was clear. How do you cut the splines before they are glued in? The actual piece you put in the joint.

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bondogaposis

4024 posts in 1813 days


#3 posted 02-23-2016 01:25 AM

Are you asking how to get the splines the right thickness? I use a thin rip jig on the table saw. Some times it takes some trial and error to get it right.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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shampeon

1711 posts in 1645 days


#4 posted 02-23-2016 01:53 AM

I use a Freud box joint blade, which can be either 1/4” or 3/8”, for the slots. I either do like Bondo and rip on the tablesaw or thickness plane the board I’m using for the splines to a few thousandths under 1/4” or 3/8”. Do the entire board, then cut off the spline triangles with a handsaw or crosscut saw. Make them a bit oversized so you can trim them like I described in my first post.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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rwe2156

2190 posts in 942 days


#5 posted 02-23-2016 12:58 PM

Get them close on the table saw then hand plane to fit.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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ARCarpenter

26 posts in 672 days


#6 posted 02-24-2016 12:26 AM


block plane to clean up the final bit.

I bought a small trim plane today at Lowe’s and I found it extremely difficult to use. Granted, I haven’t ever really used a plane before. Is there a big learning curve? I couldn’t get it to do anything but just “skip” across the surface. I may have to give the chisel a try.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_117969-16878-63286_1z0wch2__?productId=4062649&pl=1

-Eric

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shampeon

1711 posts in 1645 days


#7 posted 02-24-2016 01:10 AM

Eric: sharpness is the single most important thing for any tool. I could quibble about your choice of first plane, but my first plane was bought at Home Depot and it also sucked out of the box. The same thing applies to a chisel—any one you buy at a big box store is not going to be nearly sharp enough. You were getting chatter because a) the blade was dull and b) the cut was too thick.

There are a bazillion different ways to sharpen your blades, and each person is probably going to tell you “the right way” which means the way they do it. They all will work, it just depends on how much money you want to spend, how much time you have, what you’re comfortable doing, blah blah blah.

I started out using the “scary sharp” method on a piece of granite tile with various grits of sandpaper sprayed with adhesive: 120 for rough shaping, 220 to get the final bevel angle, then 400, 1000, and 2000 for final polishing. I used a cheap Eclipse style honing guide.

First thing to do is flatten the back of the blade. Take your time, get this right, because you should only have to do this once. Work on getting the first maybe 1/2” of the back flat, you don’t need to get the entire thing. If your existing bevel is ok, don’t bother with the lower grits. If it’s not square or if the edge is rounded or chipped, reestablish the bevel with the lower grits. Then start working on the higher grits. Work a wire edge you can feel with your fingernail on the back of the blade. When you feel the wire edge, turn the blade over and remove the wire edge with the 2000 grit. Then go back and move up the grits. Make a wire edge, then remove it. By the time you’re on 1000, the edge should be sharp and polished. Do the final pass on 2000 and you should have a blade that will take good shavings on your plane.

At this point, put the blade back in to the plane body, get a piece of scrap, and set the blade so it doesn’t touch the wood. Then tap it lightly until it juuuuust starts making thin shavings. Try to keep it square to the wood. Once you get the feel for taking full shavings on the scrap wood, you are ready to trim your splines.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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ARCarpenter

26 posts in 672 days


#8 posted 02-24-2016 02:50 AM

Great advice. Thank you. I was trying to shave to much so I adjusted the depth as you recommended. I was able take off some pretty thin shavings.

View jumbojack's profile

jumbojack

1667 posts in 2085 days


#9 posted 02-24-2016 03:15 AM

I am guessing you don’t have a bandsaw. That is what I cut mine with. I put a 9/64 drill bit between the blade and the fence and rip away. The belt sander takes care of the fit not too snug.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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ARCarpenter

26 posts in 672 days


#10 posted 02-24-2016 03:25 AM

I tried using my sander on a piece of scrap and it took off the finish. I’d like to keep the piece finished dark with contrasting light colored splines.

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MisterBill

411 posts in 1713 days


#11 posted 02-24-2016 01:52 PM



I tried using my sander on a piece of scrap and it took off the finish. I d like to keep the piece finished dark with contrasting light colored splines.

- ARCarpenter

Are you finishing your boxes before your insert the splines? I do mine in the reverse order.

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ARCarpenter

26 posts in 672 days


#12 posted 02-24-2016 02:14 PM

What do you do if you want opposite colored splines?

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jbay

812 posts in 360 days


#13 posted 02-24-2016 02:21 PM



What do you do if you want opposite colored splines?

- ARCarpenter

Use a different species of wood. I also start with the spline a little thicker and trim to width on the table saw until it fits. Sneaking up on it a smidgen at a time.

-- My “MO” involves Judging others, playing God, acting as LJs law enforcement, and never admitting any of my ideas could possibly be wrong or anyone else's idea could possibly be correct -- (A1Jim)

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bigJohninvegas

207 posts in 923 days


#14 posted 02-25-2016 07:41 PM

Test cuts for me. I’ve done a bunch of splines like whats in you photo. Most of the time I only make one pass on the saw for the slot, so 1/8” kerf. Then I use a zero clearance throat plate and a 1/8” set up block to set my fence. Any color wood you want. Always takes a couple test cuts to get the spline just right. Never had to sand it to fit. Just use some scrap and make a test cut.

-- John

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