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Well, I just climbed out of another rabbit hole on my way to my real project. Up until now, I’ve avoided using splines (in favor of biscuits or dowels) due to the difficulty of fabricating them in a repeatable / safe manner with the tools I currently own. But my next project will be expensive enough (time & materials) I thought I should make it work. It was suggested on my previous thread I could re-saw splines from a sufficiently thick piece of stock on the TS (I need approx. 20 linear feet) …. so I acquired a suitable block of white oak for the job and became committed. Anyone with experience on an older Craftsmen rip fence knows the rest of this story.

Plan A: … Two trial run passes, spline against the fence (it’s too hard to adjust the fence to cut the spline on the outboard side), with a GR-Gripper … safer but not really safe enough, not really fine tunable to any slot cutter, ¼” thickness min. (I had one of those Rockler thin rip jigs. I had to give it away … I could never get it to lock into the miter). So on to Plan B and the scrap pile.

Plan B: … Fix the problem (although a new TS was not an option). Make a sliding rip fence which uses the miter slot for alignment; carries the piece with it so I can stay away from that sharp spinning thing; is EASY to move laterally while maintaining square to the miter slot; and loses no depth of cut. The results came out well, the first cut-offs were uniform in thickness both between pieces and along the piece (as much as I could tell with my Vernier). Its capacity is limited to stock only as wide as the blade to miter slot minus ¾”.

Fence Highlights:
  • Lateral rail movement controlled using 2 opposing (1 adjustable) 30deg (dovetail like) fixed matching rails. To minimize friction, I put 2 “bearing” oak shims between the base and the moveable rail (hence it’s slightly higher than the fixed ones). All contacting surfaces waxed well.
  • The entire fence unit will move along the miter slot or can be locked in position using the wedges into the miter rail slot at each end. Miter rail is stock maple, screwed to the full edge of the base … runs smoother than the ones I put on the crosscut sleds.
  • The whole project hinged on an “adjustable” paint sticks “idea” to hold the stock (I wanted to keep it thin and blade friendly). Partial success – forward and down, ok; but it had a tendency to flex the piece out on backing the fence away … so, double sided tape too, I can live with that.

Thin Rip Jig Highlights:
  • The 2 pieces slide against each other on 1/8” aluminum bar stock which was CA glued to the moveable piece.
  • A repurposed an old rabbiting bit bearing for the guide, which happened to fit nicely onto a piece of ¼” drill rod.
  • Miter lock … threw away the aluminum bar that comes those Rockler kits and replaced it with a 1.5” maple miter block, drilled for the expansion bolt and split on one end up to the hole. It expands and holds nicely. The extra oak piece is just for alignment.
  • Added bonus … intrusive enough to block the cutoff coming back.

Unfortunately, I probably spent more time designing and building it than I will be using it
 

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David
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Unfortunately, I probably spent more time designing and building it than I will be using it
Very nice, Mark! And the statement above just means it's a well-built jig. I love building them and have at least a dozen that fall into that very category - hours to make, minutes to use.

David
 

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Paul
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Mark, I've been thinking about making a thin strip jig... I'm not as ambitious as you though! Nice work.
 

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Nice job Mark.
 

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Nice job on the jig, but it looks to me like you are making your splines with the grain going the wrong direction. For spline joints the grain should run across the narrow direction. Your jig seems to be cutting long strips with the grain running end to end instead of the direction that It should.

Maybe I'm just looking at it wrong, but I use a table saw tenoning jig and stand the board up on end in the jig. I set the jig so the blade creates a spline of exactly the thickness that I need for the spline.Then I make a pass and flip the board over and make another pass. Then I cut these splines off with my chop saw, producing two splines the width of the board with the grain running across the spline in the narrow direction. Then I put the board on end back in the tenon jig and cut two more the width of the board, then back to the chop saw, and repeat again, until I have enough splines to do the four corners of the project. I'm about to glue up the four sides of a mitered and splined box from mahogany and I'm making four of them, so 16 box sides with a splined 45 deg miter cut on each end.

Charley
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Nice job on the jig, but it looks to me like you are making your splines with the grain going the wrong direction. For spline joints the grain should run across the narrow direction. Your jig seems to be cutting long strips with the grain running end to end instead of the direction that It should.
Charley
You are correct, that was just a test piece for the smoke test. I wasn't concerned with the grain orientation for that check. I got into the real cutting last night and found out a few things, one of which would favor your process (slice, then cut-off). I bought a 12/4 (finished 2 3/4) white oak short piece planning to thin rip 1" cut-offs (12" length) realistically giving me 5 splines per cut-off (1/4" thick). Here are my life lessons on this project:


  • I need to tighten my thin rip gauge better, it moved laterally once leaving the cut-off too thick. Still thinking of an alternate lock.
  • This approach may not be suitable for real thin across the grain cut-offs. Two of 5 cut-offs just fell apart before the whole cut completed - still usable but in 2 pieces.
  • The paint strip holders w/ tape was not all that effective for this use and I need to pay more attention to grain orientation. After the 2nd spline was cut off, the stock piece started stress relieving itself (cupping) and the tape wasn't holding it against the fence at the ends anymore (1/32" gaps). I'm trying an alternate holder tonight - will post it if it works better.
 

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Fence Modifications

A few modifications were made. The results were better (uniformity) on the inside cutoffs if I ripped the splines first without cutting them off until last so I put away the thickness gauge and added an indexer to the back of the fence. I'm adding about 1/2" scrap to the cutoff. The paint stick holders were replaced by 1/4" rod. The rod mounts pivot so location of matching holes in the stock is not critical. I still have non-destructive ends for the rods if needed.
 

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The splines that I recently made were 0.187" thick, made by using my Delta tenon jig. Like I said in my previous post #7 above, I cut one spline from each side of the board with the spline length being the width of the board. I then cut them off the end of the board the width that I need using my miter saw and stop block, then back to the table saw to make another pair of splines, etc. It's kind of odd to be saving what is normally the waste from cutting tenons with the tenon jig, but it works well. The wood that I'm using is 5/8" thick mahogany and the splines will be used to join the corners of some 5" square mitered mahogany boxes. The boxes will become urns for cremated cats. I've made many urns before, but none this small. A new post with pictures will follow when they are finally complete, but progress has been slow because of my yard maintenance and Summer chores. It's been very tough to find shop time this Summer with all the rain that we have had, making things grow faster than I can cut them.

Charley
 

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Interesting. We have the lattice stuff on our pool deck and it is falling apart. We are thinking of making thin strips and making our own design for the deck.
 
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