How to Make a Spline Jig for Picture Frames and Boxes

How to Make a Spline Jig for Picture Frames and Boxes

Want an easy way to strengthen up mitered corners on picture frames and boxes? Check it! This is the second video in a multi-part series on picture frame making. You can find the other videos in the links down below. This here is a real simple and easy to make jig that rides along your table saw fence and allows you to cut splines in picture frames. Just using glue on mitered corners may seem good enough but over time as the width of the wood expands and contracts with the seasons the joints will eventually break. And that’s why you need splines. Unlike a lot of spline jigs this rides along the fence and not in the miter slot which means you can place the spline anywhere you want and even cut wider splines by moving the fence and making multiple passes. Setting the blade height is easy since the corner sits just a hair above the table and the two guides easily clear the blade. Let’s get started! I’ll measure the height of my fence and cut two pieces of baltic birch plywood to that measurement. Then I’ll measure the width of the two pieces and the fence and cut the top on the tablesaw. I’ll attach the top piece by lightly clamping the two side pieces to the fence and then glue and screw it together. Making sure it slides nicely along the fence I then attach the support board to the assembly. You’ll also want to make sure it’s square to the table before gluing it up. You can use any material you like but here I’m using MDF that will be used to hold the the picture frame in place. Although this step is not necessary I’m cutting 45° miters on the ends as you’ll see why shortly. I’ll then clamp down a drafting triangle to the support board and use a speed square to make sure it’s at 45°. The drafting triangle is then used as a
guide for the two MDF pieces The 45° angles we cut earlier align with the edges of the board. Again not necessary. After the MDF is clamped down I can then remove my drafting triangle and once everything dries we’re all set to cut some splines. Setting the blade height is just a matter of setting the picture frame in the jig and raising the blade to the desired height. I then slide the fence over and visually align the blade to the center of the frame. I suggest clamping the frame to the jig as you run it over the blade. I like to shut the saw off between every cut just to be safe as I don’t like handling material over a spinning blade. Over on the bandsaw I’ll then cut out the spines and glue them in place. A nice fit and doesn’t need to be too snug. No clamps necessary. And when they dry I just sand them down flush. You can also use this gig to cut spline keys for boxes using the same steps. I suggest using a full kerf blade with a flat grind. A thin kerf blade will work just fine and if your blade doesn’t leave a flat bottom cut, don’t worry about it too much. The tiny little gap that it may leave may not even be noticeable and it could always be filled in with sawdust and glue. Well thanks for watching! This is a multi-part series in picture frame making and I encourage you to check out these other links. Well that’s it! Be safe, stay passionate and make something!

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  1. Hey Dave, great simple project, but very usefull.I will  be making one.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Regards Shayne……

  2. Who are the jackasses that disliked this video?  You could tilt the blade and do some cool angled splines too.

  3. I love the simplicity of this jig. I am going to build one for myself. Though I will have to modify it some to work with my homemade fence. However, if I'm not mistaken, didn't you say at one time splines were unsightly? Lol.

  4. I like to know I am not the only one that turns the saw off between cuts for the same reason you mention. I am heading to the shop to make one. It will be perfect to run splines on the corners of the boxes I like to make.  

  5. I really enjoyed this video. I think I might make one of these to frame some of my old artwork. Thanks for sharing the jig sir. Awesome and simple.

  6. Now that is a great jig.  I use mine quite often.  Great way to simplify it.  Mine was a little bit different but I like yours very much.

  7. I always wanted to make a jig like that. Thank you for making the video and sharing you ideas….. Love your channel…

  8. Where was the: "How…are you doing?" At the beginning? That's my favorite part! It's like your catch phrase! Lol Great simple jig! Love it! Thanks!!

  9. Thanks, David.  That is the simplest spline jig I've seen.  Mine is about 5x bigger and very clunky.  Now I gotta build this one.

  10. Wow, that is super simple, but high quality just like the video. Definitely going to be building this. Thanks for the idea!

  11. I really like this jig. I plan on making one when the weather breaks. I was also thinking of putting in a slot in the center to install an adjustable cam clamp. That way the piece can be clamped closer to the table. Love your videos. Keep it up.

  12. @Drunken Woodworker  Looks good! Everyone is so obsessed with dovetails for boxes but splined miters look great and are strong.

  13. All your videos teach something useful. I love the pace you use and not a lot of useless dialogue. Keep it up! 

  14. Great stuff.  Completely unrelated question about your glasses.  Are those prescription shop glasses @ 3:00 or something that you added to keep the dust/chips out?  Thanks!

  15. Hey drunken woodworker I been looking and looking to see what wood comes out at 0:15. It's really red and been wondering what kind of wood it is. Thanks.

  16. Good stuff dave! I made one a while back .not like this one.gonna tackle this one tomorrow and get rid of my old one. Is there a certain height the to 45dgr pieces need to be or does it not matter how high or low they are? ? Thanks man!

    WHERE U BEEN??:)

  17. Very clever!
    I'll be building one of these for my box making. I like this design much more than the miter slot type. More compact and easier to store.

  18. Gee! Great tools make it look so EASY! But not everyone can afford to buy expensive tools. Mind you, I now have a Table Saw, so am looking forward to making all sorts of things.

  19. How did you get it to where your work piece is just above the table of the saw? Did you use the drafting triangle for this purpose…slightly extending it past the edge of the board? Cool jig…I'm going to make one.

  20. Thanks for a simple to make jig. I like that you can see where the blade will hit the frame, easier to center the cut with this setup. Thanks again

  21. Hy after seeing your spline jig I was hoping you may be able to do a video on building a box/comb jig please. your video was really clear to understand

  22. great video – just what i needed thanks. Also i found this funny…
    3:23: "I like to shut the saw off between every cut, as I don't like handing material over a spinning blade"
    4:11: Doesn't shut saw off and handles material over a spinning blade

  23. Hey David, I'm a fan of your new stuff but found this vid when looking for info on a spline jig. Just want to congratulate you on how far you're come, the info you share is still as good, but your production, confidence and lack of swaying has come such a long way 🙂 Look forward to seeing where you are in another 2.5 years!

  24. A vertical slot cut in the vertical board would let you clamp through the jig and hold the frame in a more stable way, instead of at the top.

  25. Last week I made a spline jib. I wish I had remembered this one and made one like this. The one I made was fine and worked. But this makes setting the blade height easier.

  26. I revisit this vid as im now actually going to need the jig. I wonder how many views and comments you get on the older vids. This one popped up on top on youtube search on spline jig.

    Will this work for really big picture frames, like 70x60cm (sorry, i dont do inches)? Or do i need a bigger jig?

  27. U can make a handle on the top of the jig…..looks nice and a place to grab back n forth the jig…..jus a suggestion ….anyway nice jig …✌👍👍👍👍

  28. I was going to use a biscuit joiner but this idea gives a larger gluing area and I like the way the jig does a better job of alignment. Thanks for the inspiration.

  29. I just built one today, and it works amazing. I had to build it for an old Delta table saw, and notch out the housing over the guide bar because of screws on the back side of the guide, but that helped it to keep it more aligned.

    I left my frame guides a little longer beyond the jig for 2 reasons: 1) to support a larger frame, and 2) I can use the back one for a handle to push the jig through.

    Thanks again, this is great. Love your tutorials!

  30. Hi Dave. That's awesome and definitely the best I've seen. Where can I find the cut list? Would really appreciate it.

  31. This is awesome. I think I'm going to make this jig, but put a tenoning jig on the other side. That way, I can use one jig for both tenons and splines, and I just have to flip the jig around to swap between them.

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