Dovetail spline

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Forum topic by Jack Dalton posted 08-27-2009 08:19 PM 6945 views 2 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jack Dalton

30 posts in 3408 days

08-27-2009 08:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dovetail splines

I am building a couple of candle boxes for a local museum from a cedar tree that fell on the property. My good friend and mentor, Bill Jefferson thinks I should add some contrasting walnut dovetail pins to the corners such as are seen on the cover of the latest Rockler catalog.

Doug Stowe gives some really nice tips for straight splines in a box in his recent article for Fine Woodworking. does anyone have tips on a jig to cut dovetails in the corners of a box?

-- I leave behind little bits of beauty to compensate for for my impact on this world.

22 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#1 posted 08-27-2009 09:51 PM

Jack: I’ve got a jig to cut them. It’s a Kehoe Jig.

I’ve owned it for 8 years and have never used it so I guess it’s time to try it.

When are you going to post your tool cabinet?

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3548 days

#2 posted 08-27-2009 10:05 PM

Karson, I just checked out the website for the jig. Its a bit pricey but I can really see some good uses for it. Thanks!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View dustyal's profile


1295 posts in 3496 days

#3 posted 08-27-2009 10:05 PM

... hmmm, sounds like we have the makings for a M-D Saturday workshop… ??? Mitered spline joints? I’m making a couple of boxes working with Peter… I’ll be trying my first keyed miters using my fancy sled. I had no idea how to make a dovetail miter key.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#4 posted 08-27-2009 10:28 PM

I think I paid 49.00 when I bought mine. I got it at a woodworking show. I didn’t realize the latest price.

When I got mine the router bits were not included nor were the clamps.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View rowdy's profile


375 posts in 3464 days

#5 posted 08-28-2009 02:26 AM

I have used a Kehoe Jig off and on for a long time. Like Karson, I got mine when it was priced a lot less than the current price. It does make for very strong joints and is pretty simple to use. Is it worth the current price? It all depends, I guess, on how much you will use it. All I can say it that it does work as advertised and imho it is a lot simpler than cutting standard dovetails.

-- Rowdy in Kechi, Kansas

View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3486 days

#6 posted 08-28-2009 03:10 AM

I’ve never tried it but those same dovetail splines on the Rockler caught my eye a couple of days ago. My first thought was a spline jig just like a straight spline on the tablesaw but on the router table with a dovetail bit for the slots and the same bit to cut the spline material just different set-up. Seems like the cheapest and simplest to me. Hope to find out more about it before I give it a shot. Best of luck and I hope this helps. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3697 days

#7 posted 08-28-2009 04:16 AM

It looks a bit pricey all right!! It would be very easy to build a jig to do the same thing with a hand held router or pop it up side down and run it through on the router table or even a table saw and a good sharp chisel.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#8 posted 08-28-2009 04:24 AM

The only problem with making one is the 1 deg angle so that the tenons lock in by sliding tight. If you had a CNC then I guess the angle could be made correctly.

But I don’t think it would be able to be done on a table saw. Maybe a router table without a fence.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View a1Jim's profile


117113 posts in 3598 days

#9 posted 08-28-2009 04:30 AM

I have the Kehoe Jig I works fine but I’ve seen some shop made jigs on line that look like they work great.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3697 days

#10 posted 08-28-2009 04:47 AM

If it was set up and ended up being 2 degrees or 3 it would matter. after you got your dovetail jig set up, you could set up the sled to match when cutting the pins. For decoration on boxes ect, a staight through should be good nuf.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3789 days

#11 posted 08-28-2009 05:08 AM

ive got the kehoe jig and i love it… ive used it quite a few times and its really easy to use… the 1 degree taper is what sells it in my opinion… just a great jig… im actually doing a video on it right now…

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#12 posted 08-28-2009 05:11 AM

The uniqueness of the joint is the locking wedge aspect. As you push it in it wedges tighter. No the degree wouldn’t make any difference other than visually a 3 deg taper would be a 6 degree on both sides. The problem is cutting the taper on the wedge and the hole (slot – dovetail) consistently would be the problem.

The MFG of the Kehoe Jig has put the taper in the plastic jig and in the holder that makes the wedges. The router bit with the bushing allows you to follow the angled taper consistently.

The box really needs to be glued up before cutting the slots and you can have a bottom in, it just makes the clamping a little tougher. I would think that a router table would be nice to be able to use. Keeping your eyes on the appropriate slot placement.

he makes these things out of plastic so no metal will fly if you hit it with a router bit. He used to talk about being able to buy replacement jigs if they get destroyed.

When I bought mine I didn’t have a table saw yet and I talked him out of a left tilt and a right tilt jig so when I got my say I’d be ready to go. I’ve got my saw but never gone yet.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View dustyal's profile


1295 posts in 3496 days

#13 posted 08-28-2009 05:31 AM

“ShopNotes” Vol 18 Issue 104 (fairly recent) has a simple jig set up for use with hand held router and guide bushings to cut dovetails in the miter joint. Seems simple enough but then I get confused on how to cut the keys to fit.

lots to learn, so little time…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18283 posts in 3697 days

#14 posted 08-28-2009 06:21 AM

It’s the sticker shock that sort of struck me. $175 seems a bit steep. Being a hand dovetailer, I wouldn’t buy one anyway. What I was getting at is all the jig makers on LJ could make their own fairly easily

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TexasTimbers's profile


67 posts in 3836 days

#15 posted 08-28-2009 05:04 PM

Hello LJ’ers,

We’ve been quite busy so I haven’t had much time to spend on the few forums I enjoy. I thank my friend Daren for bringing this thread to my attention. My wife (and partner) and I appreciate all the kind words about our Kehoe Jig system.

I don’t see any dis-information in this thread really (other than the price issue), but I do see an opportunity to share a little more information from the horses mouth so to speak. First a very brief history. Mt wife and I became owners of the company by sheer happenstance, a little luck, and because the inventor, Larry Kehoe and his now widowed wife Elizabeth wanted “his baby” to live on and not be relegated to the woodworking dustbin of history.

Larry had a stroke in 2001 and had to cease pretty much all physical activity. He discontinued woodworking shows at that time. Larry did not really enjoy the marketing aspect, and preferred to spend time in his shop basement filling orders that he would receive from the 1 or 2 woodworking shows he would attend each year. He enjoyed making jigs, to make his jigs. He was a very talented man but never intended, nor really tried to bring his wonderful invention to the woodworking public in a big way; spending just enough time, energy, and money to fill the handfuls of orders he’d get at the shows. Not that money was a problem for him as it wasn’t. Making money was also not his aim by bringing the jig to market. It was more of a hobby for him, a hobby he just wanted to pay its own way.

He did advertise from time to time in print magazines, but never really mounted any kind of serious campaign to make the jig widely known. He also has a website built eventually to test the “online phenomenon”, but his webmaster was apparently new and the site never became indexed very well. Sidenote: we now have the site coming up on page one usually even when “spline” is not part of the searchers keywords. I say this is not to toot our horn, but you will see why I bring it up in a minute. But for now a little more history . . . . .

I had come to know Larry by running across one of his infrequent ads in a wood mag in 1990. I ordered the jig, fell in love with it, and got to know him via many phone conversations over the years. We discussed more than the jig and became friends. Larry passed in March 2007. He had lived a full life by any standards. He served as a seabee in WWII, and went on to become one of the first Frogmen (S.E.A.L. predecessors). He was champion swimmer in high school , and excelled at high diving. In Hawaii during the war he impressed the native Polynesians by cliff diving from heights exceeding 100+ feet. The locals who knew him became so enamored with him they essentially adopted him as their own, and Larry was among the first non-natives to be given the “insiders course to outriggers” where as usual he excelled to the point he was given unrestricted use of one of their finest crafts. Larry also mined gold in Alaska and busied himself with dozens of other adventures along his way of living life, but this is already too long and I have gotten way off course.

Back to why I mentioned the page one Googled index; Larry and Elizabeth wanted their jig to become known and to continue to bless woodworkers. They’d had several offers to buy the company from various interested parties, individuals and companies alike, but they were not interested in the highest bidder. They didn’t want the Kehoe Jig to be manufactured in a foreign country and they did not want it to become a $300+ system by having it machined from aircraft grade aluminum and adding a multitude of components that woodworkers would not necessarily need.

One day in March of 2007 I got a call from Elizabeth that Larry had died. After commisserating together for some time, she asked me if I would be interested in buying the company. I was floored. After I was able to speak, I admitted that with 5 kids, building a house, and funneling every spare dime we had back into our fledgling wood business, it would not be possible for us to pull it off. Her response was that that was no concern and we’d work something out, because her and Larry had decided my wife and I were the best candidates to not only continue the jig, but to eventually make it a well-known system amongst woodworkers.

Fast forward to now: we still have a long way to go, but we have made some good strides. We have several new innovations, options, and uses for the versatile jig and we have only scratched the surface. As to the price of the jig system, I assure you we are not making unreasonable profits even at the online price of $149.95 ~ if you compare what the price of the kit is now, to what Larry was selling just the jig and the spline-maker for, yes it seems high. But you must realize the cost of manufacturing has more than tripled over the last several years.

But in order for us to be able to offer the jig to the woodworking public, some profit must be realized. I will not delineate the plethora of costs and expenses of operating a small business in todays environment but those of you who operate small businesses and play by the rules, well you don’t need an explanation of pricing. Our jig is a great value. I may jinx ourselves but I can publicly state that we have never had to honor our money-back guarantee. No one has ever requested a refund as long as we have been selling the jig so I think that speaks volumes. As popular as LJ is, I wouldn’t dare make that assertion unless it were true, so I cannot see how the jig is overpriced.

Well I wrote entirely more than I had any intention, and i have no idea why. I have not shared this many details about the history of the jig, and its wonderful inventor, Larry Kehoe, before now. I won’t delete it and start over though, because I am proud of the jig is still alive, and still 100% made in the USA. Ohio, Connecticut, Texas, California, Washington State, and Georgia all have a part in bringing the jig and its various components together. It may be a simple-looking jig, and it is a simple jig (but deceivingly versatile!) to use, but it’s not simple to bring it all together and offer at this price.

We thank our customers here who have supported us in the past, and we look forward to serving our future customers. We have many exciting new products we have and are developing, and quite a few “mini-videos” to upload on the website. We are very grateful to Charles and Sherri Neil for allowing us to use their video review of our jig on our website. They have both been key ingredient in or growing success. We are essentially a mom-and-pop business and still answer the phone ourselves (unless we have machinery running). No matter how “successful” the Kehoe Jig may become, we will never have the jig manufactured overseas (it would be MUCH cheaper), and we will never sacrifice customer service for the luxury of less than the 16 hour days we currently have to endure to run two wood-related businesses, for the “leisure” of becoming couch potatoes.

We were privileged to be asked by LJ last year to participate in the Winter Awards Program and we have also advertised here in the past. We will be spending our advertising dollars here again soon, so please do not take this highly verbose post as a cheesy attempt at free advertising, it is surely not intended that way. If it was, I would have gone into details about the technical aspects, the varied abilities and uses of the jig, and how and why we believe our jig has more bang to the buck than most other jigs, including shop made spline jigs.

I do think I ought to make clear now though, we certainly don’t bash traditional dovetails, we love them as well. Our jig is not marketed as a “replacement” for traditional dovetails, but as a unique alternative. And when comparing the locking nature of the 1° taper inherent in our system to a non-tapered shop-built jig, honestly there is no comparison.

Ten thousand apologies to anyone who may be offended by such a long post. I am not known for my brevity of words.

LJ admin, if this post is inappropriate please delete it with no hard feelings from us; we will still remain happy advertisers of LJ in the future, and count ourselves privileged to be a part of this community.

Regards, Kevin and Terry Jaynes.

P.S. Jack Dalton, I hope you don’t feel as though I have hijacked your thread. We would be happy to send you a Master System gratis if it will help you complete your project. No strings attached.

-- "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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