Spline Material Question

cobraguy

Clay
Corporate Member
I’ve started a project using Brazilian Tigerwood flooring left over from when I built my house about 8 years ago. It machines OK and it’s good to work with something other than the SPF I’ve been using for some utility type projects. I plan to try some corner splines for the first time.

Here’s my question. Are there any gotchas with selecting the wood for the spline? I don’t put finishing the project into the essential category, so I’m reluctant to head out to buy any. I plan to use what I have on hand. Right now that's; Oak (probably red), Cedar, Pine, and of course the Tigerwood. Thanks for any advice!

Rest assured. I am taking pics and will post when done.

Clay
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
I would not use Cedar or Pine if you're adding the splines for strength. The next question is whether you want to use the spline as an accent design feature, or make it blend in. If the latter, then using the same wood is your best bet. If the former, the Oak could work, but Maple or Walnut might be better in terms of color.
 

Matt Furjanic

Matt
Senior User
I agree with Bas - it would look better with some contrast. For the small amount of wood you need for splines the cost would be negligible. In fact, if you PM me with your address, I will mail you a few walnut pieces. Matt...
 

McRabbet

Rob
Corporate Member
If you use splines at a mitered joint (as with a flag case or many small box designs), be sure that the grain of the spline wood is as close to 90* with respect to the joint it is being used with -- if it is a pair of 45's forming a square corner, the grain of the spline should be at right angles to the plane of the miter. Splines like this will offer the maximum strength when glued in place. Softwoods are not good candidates for spline material, but dense woods like walnut, hard maple and many exotic species work well.

Not bragging, but I believe this is my 9,000th post!
 

cobraguy

Clay
Corporate Member
Bas/Rob - this will be mainly for strength, so thanks for pointing out softwoods my not be best. Makes sense. And you are correct Rob, this is a spline going along the miter, so I'll be sure to pay attention to the grain. You also hit the application, a flag case. The 22.5 cuts at two corners sound easier to manage with a spline to help line things up a bit. Plus the added strength. With that in mind, the spline will be visible from the front. So now the question is contrast or not? I'll try out some good clear pine on a test picece to see if I like the look. If so, I may take you up your offer Matt.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
this will be mainly for strength, so thanks for pointing out softwoods my not be best.
[Quote]I'll try out some good clear pine on a test picece to see if I like the look.[Quote}

Is your flag case also made from good clear pine? A flag case and a picture frame aren't subjected to a lot of stress so I doubt that you need a lot of strength and the spline is inserted after the case is glued up. A clear pine spline will be fine if you like the look and it'll be plenty strong. But if you prefer the contrasting look then use a contrasting wood.
 

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
To make full length cross grain splines for a mitered corner joint, I use my table saw tenon jig, placing a board vertical in the jig and setting the jig so it produces a spline the thickness needed for the saw blade width that I had cut the spline grooves in the mitered ends of my project with. Once the jig is set to produce the correct thickness spline I can cut one, then flip the board over and cut a second spline, then flip the board end for end and repeat the process for a total of 4 splines. Then I set up my chop saw with a stop set for the width of the spline needed, and cut them free of the board. The resulting tenon on the board becomes the waste. I can then go back and make more splines from this slightly shorter board, if I should need more than 4 splines. These splines break easily because if their short grain length, but you can stack many short piece in your spline cut and they will work fine. Just leave the splines sticking out of the ends of the joint during glue up and trim them off after the glue dries. This has proven to be the best way that I've been able to quickly make cross grained splines the thickness of my table saw blade that I've ever tried. I now use this method every time I want cross grained splines for mitered corners in a project.

Charley
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top