Tips & Techniques: Planing a Spline

A spline is simply a piece of wood that is inserted into a joint. Splines can be useful in a variety of applications.

a spline in the corner of this cedar frame adds strength and alignment

A spline can add strength and alignment, especially where there is a specific angle that needs to be held, as in the case of this mirror-frame.

Or, it can solve a particular problem, as when Joe was joining pine wall-boards for an interior wall. He wanted to join them tightly, as with a tongue-and-groove, but he didn’t want to lose any of the height of the boards as he worked up the wall.

So he used a spline! He ran a groove down each wall board, and cut a spline to fit into the grooves, neatly joining the two planks together.

But that created a new problem to solve…How do you plane a piece of wood that is one-half inches wide, one-quarter inch thick, and six-and-a-half feet long?

The answer is: a doe’s foot…a holdfast…and a curving path of bench dogs!

Setting up to plane a long spline at
…brace the end…
Setting up to plane a long spline at
…the long s-curve provides the best path for a smooth plane stroke…

Creative solutions are just part of a day in the workshop when you’re working by hand!

by Sydney Michalski

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