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Maple box - question about splines

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NickM

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I've made a maple jewellery box with an oak burr veneer lid (first attempt at veneering). You may notice some resemblance to the box in Custards's excellent thread on how to line a box. Indeed, I followed his instructions for the lining of this one. @custard I hope you don't mind my using your work for inspiration!

I'm pretty pleased with it. The only thing which lets it down a bit in my view are some small gaps/holes at the ends of the splines. The spline tapers to nothing and in a few cases the ends disappeared leaving a small gap. It probably looks worse in the photos and is not too bad really, but I'm wondering if I've missed a trick. Any thoughts welcome.

Thanks

Nick

IMG_7983.jpeg

IMG_7982.jpeg
 
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Orraloon

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I have chipped the edges when using the block plane to flush them. I soon learned you have to work from the corners towards the middle of the panel. A very fine setting too. Same for sanding as those edges are very prone to damage. Sometimes a bit of filler comes to the rescue. Most people dont notice but when you know the edge is chipped well the eye is always drawn there.
Regards
John
 

Orraloon

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Yes I should also have said it is a good looking box and chances are if nothing had been said about the splines then who would have noticed.
Regards
John
 

NickM

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Yes I should also have said it is a good looking box and chances are if nothing had been said about the splines then who would have noticed.
Regards
John
No, I asked for the input. I've got a few more of these to make (Christmas presents!) so want to improve as I go along. Thanks again.
 

Rorton

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great looking box - like the hinges. What the lid made of with the veneer, is that ply?
 

NickM

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great looking box - like the hinges. What the lid made of with the veneer, is that ply?
Thanks.

Yes, the lid is 6mm birch ply with oak burr veneer. I managed to buy 6 sheets of the same veneer so I can make 3 boxes where the inside and outside of the lid should look the same.

The hinges are from prokraft (side rail hinges). Not cheap, but they seem good quality. I installed them with a router table. It's a bit fiddly, but I found this guide which was very useful: guide
 

Bm101

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Great box. Thanks for posting the guide to hinge fitting too.
 

custard

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What a smashing result, you've done a really first class job!

I'm not 100% sure exactly where the problem is with your splines, there's nothing that leaps out from the photos. There are however a couple of very common issues with re-inforcing splines on mitres.

The first comes with planing them flush, especially with very brittle timbers like Ebony which are inclined to fracture. Personally i prefer African Blackwood over Ebony for exactly this reason, but whatever the choice of timber it's a case of very fine shavings with a freshly honed iron.

The second issue comes with the choice of saw used to cut the groove for the spline. Most saw blades won't leave a really flat bottom to the kerf, the profile of the teeth will mean there will tend to be a tiny ridge running down the centre of the base of the kerf, which in turn means the spline won't seat properly in the kerf. Try and avoid circular saws with an "ATB" (alternating top bevel) profile, or hand saws that are filed for cross cut work.

Personally I tend to use a grooving blade running horizontally in a spindle moulder,

Box-Mitres-07.jpg


Box-Mitres-05.jpg


Box-Mitres-04.jpg


Box-Mitres-08.jpg


But there are plenty of simpler alternatives than this, there are excellent grooving cutters for router tables, you can use a rip cut hand back saw (most dovetail saws or tenon saws are filed for a rip cut), or there are specialist files that only cut on the edge which can clean up the kerf.

I see you're in Hampshire, I'm in the New Forest in the western Solent. If you're ever in the area and need any help you can always drop by the workshop.

Once again, congratulations on an excellent job and I hope you keep on with your woodworking, you've clearly got the aptitude for it!
 

Sean33

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I've made a maple jewellery box with an oak burr veneer lid (first attempt at veneering). You may notice some resemblance to the box in Custards's excellent thread on how to line a box. Indeed, I followed his instructions for the lining of this one. @custard I hope you don't mind my using your work for inspiration!

I'm pretty pleased with it. The only thing which lets it down a bit in my view are some small gaps/holes at the ends of the splines. The spline tapers to nothing and in a few cases the ends disappeared leaving a small gap. It probably looks worse in the photos and is not too bad really, but I'm wondering if I've missed a trick. Any thoughts welcome.

Thanks

Nick

View attachment 96674
View attachment 96682
Lovely box, well done sir. Not sure if its the correct way or not but in the past i have filled the small gaps by sanding a piece of the spline timber, little bit of similar coloured wax into tiny bits, very small amount of glue and boiling water, mixed it all up into a paste then filled the gaps, seems to work o.k.
On a side note i tried filling the splines with coloured epoxy on a box as i wanted to match the leather inside, worked ok. ill try and attach a photo
 

bjm

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Nice box.

It's easy to put too much glue in the slot which doesn't squeeze out as much as you think when you 'seat' the splines. Also, don't make the splines too tight a fit - ideally they should slide in with just hand pressure before the glue grabs.

One thing that's also easy to overlook is to make sure the spline stock is square (or the same shape as the slot) so that the mating faces have no gaps. I normally sand the excess off from the corner in towards the centre.
 

NickM

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Thanks for the comments and the advice. There are a few things there for me to think about on boxes 2 and 3.
 

NickM

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What a smashing result, you've done a really first class job!

I'm not 100% sure exactly where the problem is with your splines, there's nothing that leaps out from the photos. There are however a couple of very common issues with re-inforcing splines on mitres.

The first comes with planing them flush, especially with very brittle timbers like Ebony which are inclined to fracture. Personally i prefer African Blackwood over Ebony for exactly this reason, but whatever the choice of timber it's a case of very fine shavings with a freshly honed iron.

The second issue comes with the choice of saw used to cut the groove for the spline. Most saw blades won't leave a really flat bottom to the kerf, the profile of the teeth will mean there will tend to be a tiny ridge running down the centre of the base of the kerf, which in turn means the spline won't seat properly in the kerf. Try and avoid circular saws with an "ATB" (alternating top bevel) profile, or hand saws that are filed for cross cut work.

Personally I tend to use a grooving blade running horizontally in a spindle moulder,

View attachment 96709

View attachment 96710

View attachment 96711

View attachment 96712

But there are plenty of simpler alternatives than this, there are excellent grooving cutters for router tables, you can use a rip cut hand back saw (most dovetail saws or tenon saws are filed for a rip cut), or there are specialist files that only cut on the edge which can clean up the kerf.

I see you're in Hampshire, I'm in the New Forest in the western Solent. If you're ever in the area and need any help you can always drop by the workshop.

Once again, congratulations on an excellent job and I hope you keep on with your woodworking, you've clearly got the aptitude for it!
I've been thinking about the technique I've been using. Observations below:

- Cutting the grooves. I used a straight bit (3mm) in a router table and passed the box over it in a jig I made to hold the box at the right angle. It seemed to work fine so I think that part is alright. (I avoided doing it on the table saw exactly because my ATB blade wouldn't create a flat bottom.)

- Shallow cuts with a freshly honed plane. Hmmm. I think I could do better here; especially with the freshly honed part!

- Wood choice for the splines. I've been using ABW. Perhaps that's too open grained? I'll try some Blackwood and see if that's better.

Anyway, a couple of things to try on the next box!

Thanks again for everyone's comments.
 

Chris Hawkins

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It's a bit fiddly, but I found this guide which was very useful: guide
A wonderful box to be proud of :)

As an aside, I use those hinges, but have never found that guide before - thank you. I'm not sure I like the guide's idea of the full width secondary clearance mortices. I tend to use another bit that matches the width of the 'sticky down bit' of the hinge. Makes things even more of a pain but is slightly neater.

Cheers

Chris
 

NickM

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A wonderful box to be proud of :)

As an aside, I use those hinges, but have never found that guide before - thank you. I'm not sure I like the guide's idea of the full width secondary clearance mortices. I tend to use another bit that matches the width of the 'sticky down bit' of the hinge. Makes things even more of a pain but is slightly neater.

Cheers

Chris
Thanks for the compliment.

That's a good idea for the clearance hole. The gap needed is tiny (or at least it is on the size of hinges I used), but I agree that your method would make that neater. I think I'll give that a try.
 

NickM

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Just to round off my question about splines, I've made a couple more boxes and got much better results with Blackwood (as opposed to ABW which I previously tried for dark splines). The Blackwood seems to cut like chocolate! For pale splines in a box made from ABW, I used maple and that also worked well.

I'm sure it was entirely down to the choice of wood and had nothing to do with taking light shavings with a freshly honed blade...;)

IMG_7993.jpeg
 

philip sewell

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Nice boxes Nick.

My advice for what it’s worth.

I use splines to joint the trays for my boxes and I’ve had the same problem with the splines not completely seating on the bottom of the groove. There is a goldilocks fit, if the splines are too thick trying to get them fully down is problematic but of course too thin and they aren’t doing the strengthening job they are supposed too (and look awful).

I also pair away the inner part of the groove with a thin chisel from the outer edge to the middle but leaving perhaps 2mm flat on the outer edge. It doesn’t have to be much but it gives any excess glue somewhere to go which will help the spline to seat on those 2mm flats (if that makes any sense).

A bit of back and forth motion as they are going in also helps to spread the glue on the mating surfaces.

Mistakes are always amplified on smaller items, I had to re machine the grooves and start again which was a pain but I try and put a positive spin on mistakes as they all add to the knowledge data base (although I make more mistakes than I should given how long I’ve been at it).

P.
 
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