MDF Spline Cutting Sled #1: The Sketchup Chronicles

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Blog entry by Brad_Nailor posted 03-19-2011 07:43 PM 27652 reads 95 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I was flipping through a catalog the other day and happened upon a spline cutting sled that this company was selling. I really liked the design of it, so I went on their website and learned all about it, watched videos etc. The only problem was, I didn’t want to pay the (what I thought was) high price for something that I could probably make myself…not to mention I’m broke, and cheap, and have enough scrap materiel’s lying around that I can make it almost for free. I really liked the design of that sled and pretty much copied it almost exactly…this is what I came up with..I basically engineered mine just from looking at pictures…

Mine is made from 3/4” MDF (cause that’s what I got!) It has sliding positioning wings to hold the box or picture frame in perfect alignment with the blade…

The only stuff I have to buy is a piece of Rockler universal T track, and some t bolts and knobs. The track sits in a 3/4” dado int the trough side

The sled will sit on two miter slot tracks made from 5/8” Baltic birch ply. If I had the money I would make the whole thing out of Baltic, but MDF should be fine. I plan on gluing and shooting everything together so I can precisely align things, then when the glue dries I will reinforce everything with screws.


18 comments so far

View CanadianWoodChuck's profile


402 posts in 5371 days

#1 posted 03-19-2011 09:30 PM

Dave: Nice looking jig, I really like the idea of being able to adjust the workpiece easily. Any chance of sharing the drawing in Google warehouse, so I can borrow it? :)

-- Wood Chuck (Bruce)

View JasonWagner's profile


566 posts in 4637 days

#2 posted 03-19-2011 09:33 PM

Thanks for the plans. I might just have to copy this idea from you. I made one out of MDF but like your adjustable design.

Does it need to run in the miter slots? If you just use your table saw fence I’d think you’d be accurate and have even more flexibility.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4631 days

#3 posted 03-19-2011 11:06 PM

VERY nice !

Having just cut my first splines, for the box I’m working on, I can really appreciate the smart design of this.

If you’re even cheaper, or lazier … here’s how I did it:

Both down … AND dirty :-)

-- -- Neil

View devann's profile


2260 posts in 4150 days

#4 posted 03-20-2011 08:00 AM

Hi Brad Nailor, There is a spline jig that I’ve been wanting to make. It’s part of a multi purpose saddle fence jig that I saw in an old copy of popular woodworking mag. It’s in issue#162, June 2007 page 18. I looked at your workshop and you already have the proper TS fence for the jig. It’s a removeable, sliding fence that fits over a fence like you have. The jig uses t-nuts to fasten ether a spline jig, featherboard, or a tenon jig to your TS fence. Check it out you may want to try it. If you can’t find it send me a PM, I’ll send you the page with the pictures. This one doesn’t require anything more expensive than a couple t-nuts and two bolts. I haven’t built one yet because I don’t have the proper fence.
By the way, your jig above looks like a good idea, but I live in the woods. I’d have to mail order the hardware to make me one like yours.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 5415 days

#5 posted 03-20-2011 02:44 PM

Thanks for the comments guys! Again it isn’t my design..I based it entirely from another sled I saw in a catalog, so I just want to be clear on that…I don’t want to take credit for someone elses work.

@ Neil…I like your design. I was going to make a quick and dirty one like that specifically for the project I need it for, but once I saw this sled design I wanted to go all out. I like the flexibility of the bigger sled to handle different sized projects.

@Jason..You are correct..I could just butt the sled against my fence, but I like the idea of the slots locked in one position in the jig and I move the stops around to adjust the position of the splines.

@ Devann..Thanks, I saw a Fine Woodworking article about building a similar jig, but right now I want to focus on knocking this sled out so I can build the project I need the splines for!


View konaman's profile


84 posts in 5089 days

#6 posted 03-28-2011 07:02 PM

nice jig, could you post a link to the sketchup file for us to save?

View smitty22's profile


718 posts in 4404 days

#7 posted 07-03-2011 03:11 AM

Thanks David, I was inspired by your version, so spun up one of my own. Made it a bit wider since I have a rather long box structure in a couple of clocks that are in work, handles up to about 18” width between the bookends. Probably overkill, but I like to clamp the piece in place like your design.

Main reason for the reply though is to ask what TS blade is best for a good flat-bottomed spline? Both of my blades produce a contoured spline slot bottom. The crosscut blade is a crown-like bottom while the rip blade is sort of a rounded bottom. Thanks for any insight here!


-- Smitty

View smitty22's profile


718 posts in 4404 days

#8 posted 07-03-2011 04:26 AM

Oops, shoulda done a search before asking the above ‘best blade’ question, it’s been asked and answered many times before. Here’s a good thread with recent and accurate information in case someone needs the same information:

-- Smitty

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 3787 days

#9 posted 01-11-2012 04:54 AM

I’ve looked at quite a few of these spline jigs, I think I like yours the best, hope you don’t mind if I make one just like it:)

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View smitty22's profile


718 posts in 4404 days

#10 posted 01-11-2012 07:11 AM

Gotcha covered Lukie, finally got around to posting my version of Brad’s jig as a project.


-- Smitty

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4646 days

#11 posted 01-11-2012 12:18 PM

Great job, I made a quick and dirty one a while back buy I really like this one. Thx for sharing!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Robert Cole's profile

Robert Cole

13 posts in 4464 days

#12 posted 01-11-2012 03:26 PM

Very nice.

Making two of them will be my project for today.
The first one will be for making spline joints.
The second one will be for making dovetail joints. I will modify it and make the box carriage part out of 1/8” hardboard backed by an “offset backer board” made of of 3/4” MDF. Hopefully that will give me more room to make the dovetail cuts.

I will make both of them longer so I can use them for miniature grandfather clock bodies, drawers, and spice box bodies on mitered corners.

-- Bob, Ohio,

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4262 days

#13 posted 01-11-2012 04:32 PM

very slick. thnx for the link and your version as well. gotta put this on the “to-do” list

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View ptweedy's profile


75 posts in 4851 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 09:12 PM

Beautiful jig, the use of the book ends and track to hold the work piece is great. I thought that the same idea with one guide rail in a router table without a fence would allow you to use a dovetail bit and a dovetail shaped spline. As to not using the tracks in the saw table and just pushing the jig against the fence is not good if you are interested in repeatability and safety. Think what will happen to your project if you twist the jig off the fence slightly. A misscut or/and kick back with a ten pound jig….bad thing. Phil

View Kickback's profile


127 posts in 4093 days

#15 posted 02-16-2012 05:14 PM

I went and sketched this jig out in Sketchup so that it can easily be downloaded and created. I hope that Brad doesn’t mind if so I will remove the link to the file. I added an extra support for the angled supports but everything else is original per his blog.

You can download the .SKP file here: Spline Cutting Jig

-- "I work so I can fish"!

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