Hide Glue for Beginners #6: Perfect Splined Mitre Joints in Five Minutes Without Clamps

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 06-27-2011 03:22 AM 10763 reads 34 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Pressing with Hot Cauls Part 6 of Hide Glue for Beginners series Part 7: Another Inexpensive Hide Glue Heater »

When I posted “Arnie’s Tea Box” one of the comments (Roger) was that these boxes make a great venue for displaying my marquetry. I totally agree but that meant streamlining the process of making the box. First was to come up with a jig to make the corners perfect every time quickly.

Here is what I came up with.

Disclaimer: I’m not a jig person so my jigs are usually utilitarian and often “throw away”.

This photo shows the parts disassembled. Dimensions are irrelevant and I didn’t take any so even I don’t know them.

Here the base piece has been turned right side up. The groove is for the pin in the top part. The cutouts at the apex are to insure that no glue contacts the jig.

Assemble the top part onto the bolt and adjust so that the spaces on the sides fit your stock width. Then slide the pieces of your box together until they match perfectly.

Now remove one piece without moving the other. Coat the end with hot hide glue….Oh yes, this is a commercial for hide glue, sorry. But please bear with me.

Slide the piece back in and as the jig does most of the work, simply squeeze the top of the joint for about 15 seconds or so.

This is the joint removed from the jig about 30 to 45 seconds after the glue was applied. It’s already strong enough to hold together.

A minute later it is strong enough to have it’s spline grooves cut.

A little more hide glue on the splines and slip them into place.

In the time it takes to walk over to the band saw the splines are glued well enough to trim off.

The glue is easy to rub off with your finger. It will ball up like rubber cement. You can throw it back in the pot if it’s not too contaminated with sawdust. Then you can sand the joint and you’re done. The elapsed time between this photo and the one where the pieces were dry fitted is under five minutes and with the splines now in place the piece is strong enough to continue to handle and work with.

Of course in real life it is not necessary to get things done this quickly. Pieces can sit while others are fitted and glued, but this is how fast it can be done.

This joint is perfectly square, both vertically and horizontally, despite the fact that if you look closely, my “hot off the miter saw” cut was not.

That’s it
I made a jig. Who would have thought.


Comments, questions, critiques are always welcome.


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

21 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4364 days

#1 posted 06-27-2011 03:24 AM

Very simple … cool idea….

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View LittlePaw's profile


1572 posts in 4087 days

#2 posted 06-27-2011 03:34 AM

It’s so good i’m planning to use it. Hope you don’t mind.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3699 days

#3 posted 06-27-2011 04:08 AM

This I can understand! Nice jig Paul.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4891 days

#4 posted 06-27-2011 04:18 AM


But you have to include the time to heat up the glue. Which I have no idea how long it takes. So, how long does it take?

Nice jig,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View larryw's profile


335 posts in 3671 days

#5 posted 06-27-2011 04:19 AM

Great idea Paul, keep’em comin’.

-- "everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees it" ~confucius-551-449 b.c.~

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4318 days

#6 posted 06-27-2011 04:39 AM

Great jig…simple and effective. Thanks.

View Randy63's profile


252 posts in 3901 days

#7 posted 06-27-2011 04:53 AM

I think this jig would be valuable for anyone building mitered boxes. A little sanding jig for touching up miters on a sanding disk is also a good idea if anyone is having trouble with perfect miters. I think the idea of boxes as a venue for you marquetry is excellent. There have been some fine examples of marquetry boxes here at LJ, and I’m sure you could make some wonderful additions to that collection. I couldln’t agree more about the use of hot Hide Glue, it has the strength and many more convienences the modern glues don’t.

-- Randy, Oakdale, Ca.

View rance's profile


4277 posts in 4170 days

#8 posted 06-27-2011 06:35 AM

It looks like it does a great job Paul. You may just become a jig-man. :) I’m puzzled in how you insert the bottom or the top though. Rabbet I assume? If so, how do you account for expansion? Hey, thanks for sharing.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View shipwright's profile


8678 posts in 3807 days

#9 posted 06-27-2011 06:47 AM

Thanks all.

Steve you plug it in in the morning or before 15 minutes before a gluing session and unplug it when you leave the shop. If you’re using it much, it’s always hot.

Rance I used a floating PW bottom in Arnie’s Tea Box and the top is my favorite substrate, MDF, dimensionally pretty stable. I don’t anticipate any problems. I won’t use that top style again though – too hard to glue in nicely.

LittlePaw Fill yer boots. Glad to help.

Thanks again.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 4608 days

#10 posted 06-28-2011 02:07 AM

Your blogs are great!! Keep’em a comin!!!

Thanks for sharing!!

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3607 posts in 4722 days

#11 posted 06-28-2011 04:03 AM


Thanks for sharing your brilliance with us. This is such a great learning place.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 3943 days

#12 posted 07-05-2011 10:12 PM

Very interesting jig.

Thanks for all your blogs thay are quite informatyive.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3702 days

#13 posted 07-05-2011 10:46 PM

Hide Glue.

Time to bring the pot back out. I haven’t fussed with it in a while. The time feels right.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View BoxBuilder's profile


130 posts in 4139 days

#14 posted 07-14-2011 02:25 PM

Good to know there is someone else out there who uses hide glue!! I started about 2 years ago & wish it had been sooner. Great jig BTW!

-- Richard, Pennsylvania

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5061 days

#15 posted 07-14-2011 07:14 PM

GOLLY! Had no idea that Hide glue dried SO FAST!

I’ll have to look into that stuff… a little more…

You have a Pot (electrically heated?)...
Can you leave the glue in the pot at all times?
How long does it take to get the glue liquid?
We know it dries FAST… How strong is it for the long haul?
How about water problems?

COOL little jig! Nice job!
Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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