Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Spline Jig

Recently I completed a jig to make cuts for splines in the corners of boxes, such as tissue box covers and jewelry boxes. It's a fairly simple thing, made mostly of 1/2 inch Baltic birch plywood with a cradle that rests at a 45 degree angle to the table saw. I got the plan from Paul Anthony's new book, Table Saws (Taunton). He's also published the same plan in various articles he's written for magazines.

Using it is fairly simple. Once a box has been assembled, I'll clamp a stop block to the jig so the cuts will be made where I want them, then make the cuts, turning the box so that all four corners get identical cuts. I'll use a rip blade to make the cuts so the bottom of each cut is at 90 degrees to the edge. After the cuts have been made, all that remains is to insert splines of a contrasting color into the cuts and trim them off with a chisel, plane and sander.

The completed boxes will be my holiday presents for this year. And, if they turn out well, I may even try to sell some.


A Trip to the Sawmill

Last Thursday, I was in the vicinity of a sawmill I've been wanting to visit and decided to stop in and check it out. The mill, Herbine Hardwoods, is located near Lucketts, VA, just a few miles north of Leesburg and about an hour from me. It turns out that it is a one-man operation. The owner, Rich Herbine, has a portable sawmill and two kilns behind his house. He features domestic hardwoods that he cuts and dries himself. Of particular interest to me are his quartersawn white oak and, I was surprised to find out, his sycamore. Sycamore isn't usually carried by hardwood suppliers, though it is a common hardwood, at least in Virginia. The problem is, it isn't all that good for fine furniture so it is shunned by most woodworkers. But just look at the figure in this piece, which was among the better boards I bought. When it has been jointed and planed, this will be absolutely beautiful. For smaller projects, like boxes, that don't need much strength, it should do fine. And that is exactly what I intend to use it for. Right now it is resting on the lumber rack, acclimating itself to the humidity of my shop. In another couple of weeks, I'll start working it. I really can't wait to see what it looks like!

Next week, if it doesn't rain, I'll go back for a load of quartersawn white oak for an Arts and Crafts style cabinet I'll be making to hold my photo CDs. I know I'll find what I need there. And, it's a good place to get lumber. Since there is no middleman, Rick is able to underprice the other lumber yards by as much as 30 percent. And that's a good deal!