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Australian Woodsmith 11th December 2019

Biscuit Joiner Spline Slots

I am always looking for new and creative ways to get the most from my woodworking tools. Recently while building several small boxes with decorative splines in the corners, it occurred to me that my biscuit joiner would do an excellent job of making the spline slots. All it needed was this simple-to-build jig that attaches to the fence on the joiner.

MAKING THE JIG. The biscuit joiner jig is easy to make from a piece of plywood. Start by cutting the vertical V-groove centred on the front face of the plywood workpiece. I did this at the table saw with the blade tilted to 45°. A couple of passes completes both sides of the groove. The important thing is that the V-groove opening ends up being 90°. This allows the jig to “wrap around” the corner of the workpiece.

Next up is a series of evenly-spaced kerfs running horizontally across the face of the jig. These kerfs hold an acrylic index bar (illustration, below) that determines the location of the spline slots on the workpiece. In the case of my jig, the spline slots are 25mm apart (approx 1"). I used 3.2mm-thick acrylic so the kerfs can be made with a single pass across the table saw blade. The acrylic index bar should be a snug fit in the kerfs.

A vertical pencil line centred down the back face of the jig aids in aligning the jig to the joiner fence. The jig is positioned so the bottom kerf is 19mm from the top of the joiner blade (top photo). This will locate the first spline slot 19mm down from the top of the box. Attach the jig to the joiner fence with screws.

CUTTING SPLINE SLOTS. To cut a spline slot, put the acrylic index bar in the appropriate kerf (middle photo, above) and rest the index bar on the top of the box (right photo, above) with the corner seated in the V-groove. Now just plunge the cutter into the corner for a perfect spline slot.

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SAFETY IN THE WORKSHOP Safety devices, such as riving knives, guards on table saws and guards over router bits have been deliberately left out of the line drawings in Australian Woodsmith projects in order to make them easier to follow. It goes without saying that where safety devices have been supplied by the manufacturers you should use them. We encourage the use of push sticks as good work practice.
    Exercise vigilance and the greatest of care when using power tools, whether stationary or portable. Keep all your tools sharp and well maintained. Wear protective eyewear, a dust mask and a hearing protector when appropriate. By limiting distractions and developing safe work practices you will go a long way to avoiding workshop accidents. So, work safe fellow woodworkers.  -Editor
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