Blanket Chest Top Construction - Butt or Spline

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Forum topic by captfoss posted 10-19-2012 02:32 PM 2094 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 2213 days

10-19-2012 02:32 PM

I’m putting together a blanket chest in cherry, and I’m wanting to do a solid top. In total, the top will measure about 20×38. It’ll be 3 boards, which should be 8,7,and 5 inches wide.

Because each of the glue joints for the glue up will be stressed every time the chest is opened, I feel compelled to reinforce them somehow. I don’t have a biscuit jointer, but I do have a 1/4 slot cutter that I could use to make splines.

So, I’m looking for advice / opinions. Which option would be the strongest joint for a chest top glue up?
1) Butt joints. It’s a long-to-long join so the wood will break before a butt joint would.
2) Spaced spline joints with some cross-grain hardwood splines
3) Full-length tempered hardboard splines

9 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3152 days

#1 posted 10-19-2012 02:55 PM

If its just glue up for the top, butt joints are probably all you need. I use biscuits for alignment in that case…and it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Decorative splines would be pretty though. Maybe a some bow ties!

-- jay,

View bondogaposis's profile


4718 posts in 2345 days

#2 posted 10-19-2012 03:03 PM

Butt joints are all you need for strength. The other stuff just adds complexity and more chance for mistakes. Keep it simple. If you feel compelled to add something, use breadboard ends.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Mrdavidc's profile


14 posts in 2039 days

#3 posted 10-19-2012 03:19 PM

I’ve used butt joint for laminating for years with no problems. I also understand overbuilding can be satisfying.

View captfoss's profile


20 posts in 2213 days

#4 posted 10-19-2012 03:29 PM

> If you feel compelled to add something, use breadboard ends.

I’d thought about breadboard ends, but since it’s a chest lid, I wouldn’t want to see dowels on the underside or plugs on the outside edge. And if the panel swells or shrinks with breadboard ends, the ends of the ends wouldn’t line up with the sides of the panel anymore. I don’t think I’d like that, either.

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3722 days

#5 posted 10-19-2012 03:46 PM

I did breadboard ends and just glued them on crossgrain. I’m still waiting for the day it breaks. That was the first project I ever built. I think you could glue the center and leave the rest free to expand/contract though.

View a1Jim's profile


117087 posts in 3571 days

#6 posted 10-19-2012 04:00 PM

No problem with but joints.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2920 days

#7 posted 10-19-2012 04:26 PM

I would put biscuits or Dominos (loose tenon) because I think it may help, a few sections of spaced spline will not hurt either.

Good luck!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2908 days

#8 posted 10-20-2012 12:39 AM

As everyone concurs, butt joints are just fine to use, especially when joining several narrow boards for a top. I butt joined the top on my blanket chest as well. I did, however ad cross supports to guard against long-term seasonal warping.

If you want to be a bit fancier in your joinery and want it to show, you could try running a spline the entire length of each board to be jointed and use a long floating tenon. I did this with the top on my Barrister's Bookcase, mostly because I was joining TWO 7-inch wide boards. I used 1/4” ply for the tenon. I did this on my TS, running the +7in boards vertical against a 1/2in height blade.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View AandCstyle's profile


3050 posts in 2251 days

#9 posted 10-20-2012 04:32 AM

I agree with the others that butt joints should be adequate. However, when I made a chest, I put 3 battens on the underside of the lid to prevent potential warping. FWIW

-- Art

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