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Realign your splines

A slight tilt of a saw blade gives your corner splines a whole new look.

It doesn’t take much work to put a new spin on traditional splined miter joints. Just install the splines at an angle, as we did as shown at right on a maple-and-walnut letter tray, and you get eye-catching results.

First, make a simple spline-cutting jig for your tablesaw, as shown below. Then, mark three evenly spaced spline locations on a piece of scrap the same width as the tray side.

realign your splines 2
Enlarge Image
Double-check the
orientation of your work-
piece before cutting.
Here we're holding the
bottom of the tray to the
left, so the slots will point

Install a blade in your tablesaw that produces the flattest possible kerf bottom. (We used an outside blade from our dado set.) Tilt the blade to 15°, and raise it so that it extends about halfway into the mitered corner. Set your jig against the tablesaw rip fence, place your marked scrap in the jig, and adjust the fence to cut a test slot. Now make the other slots, readjusting the fence between cuts.

When you're satisfied with the design, place clear packing tape around the workpiece corners to reduce chip-out. Hold the workpiece firmly in the jig, and cut as shown in Photo A. Cut the top slot in each corner, adjust the fence, cut all four middle slots, adjust again, and do the bottom slots. Remove the tape.

realign your splines 3
Enlarge Image
If one pass won't produce
enough spline stock,
clamp a stop to the table
before ripping. Slide the
fence between cuts to
set the board against
the stop.

Rip spline stock from the edge of a board of contrasting stock, as shown in Photo B. Match its thickness to the kerf—usually 1/8". Then, cut individual splines from the strips, making them slightly longer than the slots. Spread yellow glue on the splines, slip them into place, and let the glue dry. Trim them off at the surface with a flush-cutting saw, or use a dovetail saw followed by a chisel. Sand flush.

By varying the number and placement of the splines, you can come up with other designs. You might try different saw blade angles, too.

Photographs: Hetherington Photography
Illustration: Roxanne LeMoine

If you like this project, please check out more than 1,000 shop-proven paper and downloadable woodworking project plans in the WOOD Store.


Comments (6)
DanlHarris wrote:

Very similar to mine. A. Add a saddle to ride the fence. B. Recommend making (3) jigs for 1/8 (blade width), 1/4 and 3/8. Determine spline size and spacing dependent on the project scale/size. C. Or, if you use a dadoo blade(s), add inserts to the jig to reduce rip out from the blade.

7/15/2014 02:07:52 PM Report Abuse
woodworkin15953 wrote:

A new twist to what I already do. Thanks!

6/1/2014 08:21:24 AM Report Abuse
Grabner6403 wrote:

To scoff1: Fasten the jig parts that hold you project above where the blade will cut, thereby saving the jig from cuts. CB6403

2/16/2012 10:42:06 AM Report Abuse
scoff1 wrote:

It this a one project use jig? What if you have larger workpieces that each have to have the splines recentered, the blade would be cutting new kerfs in the jig which would eventually fall apart. I built one and haven't figured a way to solve this. Thanks Woodmag.

2/16/2012 10:10:55 AM Report Abuse
mapleMoose wrote:

The tilted splines look great! Very nice jig - thanks Wood Mag!

2/17/2011 12:02:01 PM Report Abuse
wollerma wrote:

I have been putting off some shadow box frames...this has inspired me to get them done!

3/25/2010 01:53:07 PM Report Abuse

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