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Monday, June 30, 2014

Emergency Splinectomy!

I wrote recently about a spline jig here.  In that post I remarked that the hole in the jig was a mistake. Well, I found during the following experience that the hole was a spot on modification.  Did I get lucky, or is there a real woodworker deep down trying to get out?

Getting back on track now.  With my arm now more recovered from shoulder surgery,  I moved on to gluing the frame that needs the splines.

Here is the frame:

The joints are simply mitered and glued.  The glue is what this post revolves around.  I used Titebond Hide Glue, in the photo just by happenstance.  The frame was glued up and put into a ratcheting strap clamp for about 36 hours.  After coming out of the straps, the frame was propped against a 55 gallon garbage can used for 'quality' scrap wood.  There it sat waiting for me to get more strength in the arm, but the glue had other plans.

The 55 gallon scrap bin is in sight of the table saw--easy throwing distance is a must.  The garage shop is not air conditioned so when it gets too hot or too cold, I try to avoid the garage.  However, I was in the garage futzing around while it was still early and cool.  As the day got hotter I moved on to more sedate activity.  I was using the table saw as a desk while putting together a task sequence for another project (new saw bench design).  There I sat staring in the distance pondering some obscure point of the project until the SOMETHING'SNOTRIGHT alarm went off.  I focused closer only to see the miters of the frame literally start to fall apart.  I estimate the temperature in the shop at the time to be in the upper 80's Fahrenheit.

I know hide glue is reversible, but I had no idea that the temperature for doing so was so low.  I grabbed the frame before complete separation and managed to get it on a flat surface.  The only thing I could think of was getting the splines in ASAP with regular yellow wood glue.  Since time was of the essence I used what was immediately available.  The table saw was set up with a 1/2 inch wide dado.  Rooting around in the scrap bin produced some White Oak left over from the Civil War folding table.

I put corner clamps on three sides of the frame and the spline jig on the fourth:

The spline is in the foreground of the photo above.  The block holding the rest of the uncut splines is off to the right.

I used the jointer and my number 5 to get the white oak down to half an inch.  I opted for a tight dry fit to keep the corners together until the whole was ready for glue.  Then it occurred to me that I could glue and set the spline while still in the jig.  A little patience was all that was required to keep unsatisfactory amounts of glue off the jig.

The splines were going to be quarter-inch slats of either Wenge or Rosewood, depending how far I could make what I have stretch.  The best laid plans of mice and men...

The frame is now splined and glued with a single half-inch wide White Oak chunk on each corner.  I have a lot more work to do bringing the splines flush, and the aesthetic opportunity is gone.  On the plus side, I don't have to worry about separation now, or in the future and paint is as good as stain on this kind of project.  The next task to overcome is where to get tempered glass or plastic big enough to cover the 43 X 27 opening.

I also am rethinking when and where to use hide glue. I freely admit to jumping on the bandwagon of hide glue just to see what all the hype was about.  Experience can be a cheap education.

EDIT:  Here is a photo I forgot of the jig ready to go over the blade:

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