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  1. #1
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    HOW TO MANUFACTURE SPLINED TOP BARS ON A TABLESAW, USING CAUTION NOT TO MAIM ONESELF.


    We begin with the construction of a fence for the saw as follows; Cut a 1 x 4 to fit your saw fence. On the bottom of this smooth 1 x 4 attach a lath exactly as thick as you wish your splines to drop below the bar. The lath should be wider than the 1 x 4 by (1/2 bar width minus half spline thickness minus 1/32 inch.). Don’t be too persnickety about the measurements but remember that it will work better if fitted properly. Glue and nail this lath to the bottom of the 1x 4. The purpose of the lath is to support the cut-away portion of the top bar as it travels over the dado on the second cut when making the spline.

    Now cut a featherboard and attach it 3 to 5 inches on the outfeed side of the fence. This will serve to hold the top bar in place and prevent kickback as the bar is pushed over the dado. Wax the fence and lath but not the featherboard.

    Now cut your bar stock to width and thickness. Remember that the thickness now must include the spline. This will work best if you have long stock, three or 4 lengths of the top bar.

    When the stock is prepared, carefully set your original saw fence (not the one you just made) to a width that will cut away one side of the spline. Measure carefully so that you set the fence at half the width of the bar PLUS half the width of the spline. Cut one side of the spline cut ON ALL YOUR BAR STOCK.


    Now move your fence and attach to it the fence you just made. Whether clamped or screwed on, make sure it fits snug and square against the fence and the saw table. NOW ADJUST THE DISTANCE TO THE BLADE. Move the fence to a distance from the dado so that when you make this second cut it leaves a centered spline. This will be half the bar width plus half the spline width.

    Now make your second cut. As you feed the stock across the dado the first cut side rides on the lath attached to the fence. Only the spline and uncut portion of the bar rides on the saw table. Be careful to hold the top bar snugly against the fence as you feed it across the dado. Use a block and a push stick; carelessness here can cost you dearly.

    When you have made the second cut you have top bar stock with a square-edged spline. If you want the splines tapered, run a block plane across them; it takes only a couple of strokes on each side. Now cut the bars to length.

    Now groove a piece of 1 x 4 so that the bars will ride on the 1 x 4 with the splines in the groove. Set this against your mitre bar and adjust the saw fence and dado so that the dado will cross-cut about 1/8 inch deeper than the spline and about 1/8 inch farther back from the end of the bar than the thickness of the hive planking. Most likely you will have to run the bar across the dado twice to do this as most dados are not wide enough to clear this all in one pass. When you have finished this the top bar should fit across the hive with a 1/8 inch shoulder to keep it from sliding to either side. If your hive has a wide slope you may have to trim the ends of the splines a bit with your knife.

    Be careful; these top bars are unstable in the saw unless held carefully against the fence and on the lath attached to the fence. Failure to use push sticks and featherboard or holding blocks will sooner or later result in presentation of a Darwin award.

    Now; If this gets some of you to thinking and you have a better way, let's hear it. I am not averse to doing things the easy way.
    Ox

    [This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited September 24, 2004).]

  2. #2
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    Oh Pshaw!

    IGNORE; i EDITED THE ORIGINAL TO INCLUDE THE IMPROVEMENT
    Ox


    I just figured this out yesterday and already I think I have a better way to do the same thing. More later after I test the device. One way or another, cutting the splines with a dado beats the dickens out of glueing them in.
    Ox

    [This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited September 24, 2004).]

  3. #3
    kookaburra Guest

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    Can you explain what a spline is?

    thanks

  4. #4
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    A spline is a ridged projection below the top bar that can be painted with beeswax to take the place of a starter strip.

    On top bars some of us have been grooving the centerline of the bottom then cutting this thin strip of wood and glueing it in so that it projects an eighth to a quarter inch below the bar. When this is painted with beeswax the bees will follow it to start and (we hope) build straight combs.

    Making top bars this way is very labor intensive.

    [This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited September 24, 2004).]

  5. #5
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    OK, Fellows:

    IGNORE; I EDITED THE FIRST POST TO INCLUDE THE IMPROVEMENT.
    __________________________________________________ ______________________________________
    Already I see that I made this more difficult than it is. (Why have not some of you expert woodworkers told us how to do this before now?)

    Make the auxiliary fence that I described in my first post. Instead of trimming the lath back to the dado head, LEAVE THE LATH FULL LENGTH OF THE FENCE.

    Now, make your first cut as described in my original post. You will have a top bar with a cut-away section on the bottom.

    Install the fence with the full-length lath. Move the fence to a distance that puts the dado across the centerline by half the width of your spline. (So that when this next cut is made your spline will be centered on the bar) Now make your cut with the cut-out section riding on the lath, holding the bar snugly against the fence as described in my first post.

    When you complete the second cut you will have a length of bar stock with a spline down the center of the cut side.

    From this point proceed as in my first post. I reiterate, this is easier to do if you use bar stock several times the length of a bar, then cut the bars to length after the splining operation.
    Ox

    [This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited September 24, 2004).]

  6. #6
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    If you are making an infinite number of top pars all the same there may be a benefit to making a precise jig for each cut. But since it hasn't been determined exactly how wide the spline should be for best centering by the bees or even how wide the top bars should be, it would probably be better to make a more general purpose jig.

    You can make a general splining jig with the 1x4 fence and lath as described but only extend the lath on the outtake end of the fence and extend it only as far to fit the smallest top bar width with the widest spline. Make the finger boards so they apply pressure only on the top over the side being cut. Optionally add a finger board to apply pressure on the side pushing the work into the fence.

    The fence is adjusted once to accommodate the width of the top bar stock and the desired spline width. Run the stock through once to cut one side of the spline. Reverse it and run it through the other way to cut the other side leaving just the spline perfectly centered on the board.



  7. #7
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    Dano:
    Looks as if I was trying to reinvent the wheel. After using the lath on outfeed end only I decided it was easier for me to use the full length lath and adjust twice. Had I known what I was doing I could have stopped with the original.

    Thanks for the tip on the fingerboard holding the work against the fence.

    Now tell us how to cut frame emds!!!

    OK, Gang; we can forget about my rig and use Dano's instead.

    Ox

  8. #8
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    "Now tell us how to cut frame emds!!!"

    I thought the whole idea of the top bar was to be simple and do away with the rest of the frame. But if you have the tools and the time...

    Start with some pieces of 2xWhatever stock cut to the length of the desired frame end. Run these through your table saw with various dado blades to carve out the shape until you have the perfect end bars except they are several inches thick. Take these pieces to the band saw and set the fence for the thickness you want and slice out your end bars. (watch those fingers on the last cuts)

  9. #9
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    Right, Dano;
    Except that almost everyone who has top bar hives also has some Langs. There are a couple of fellows on the site trying to make all their own equipment.

    I can do everything you specified for the end bars except that I am not sure I know how to get the narrow bottom ends.

    I contemplated clamping a stop block on the outfeed end of my saw table, then running the block over the dado with repeated passes, repeating on the opposite side. This will give the narrow bottom end and the taper from wide to narrow if the stop block is set right. This of course would be done after the top and bottom bar dadoes had been completed. Lacking a band saw a narrow kerf blade on the table saw would have to do. What do you think?

    Also, In the absence of a plane, how would you reduce your inch and a half stock to the inch and three eighths needed? (For Supers I see nothing wrong with inch and a half)
    Ox

  10. #10
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    A surface planer is the obvious tool to use for reducing the initial thickness of the stock but not everybody is going to have one of these in their garage. To make do with the table saw, just leave the top and bottom inch of the stock pieces while you shape the rest of the sides with the dado blades. You'll be cross cutting so don't try to take off too much at a time. Use the curved dado blades to make a transition from wide to narrow. You can then trim the last inch from the end with a rip blade.

    [It's still a lot of cuts and several blade changes. MB's flat ends bars cut from 1 by stock are a lot easier.]

  11. #11
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    Dano:

    You've given me another idea. I like cutting with the grain on a dado better than cross cutting. I am going to try to make a jig for planing. More later.
    Ox

  12. #12
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    Your table saw must be smaller than I thought.

    The transition curve on my commercial frames have a 1 in. radius. If your dado blade is more that a couple of inches in diameter the point where these curves meet between adjacent frames will be too shallow and will be begging for propolis.

    Another way to cut the end bars is to use a router to form the transition first then cut a deep groove from the bottom end to meet the router cut. If you don't have a router you can cut the transition on the table saw by setting the blade at 45 deg.

    Making a 3 in. deep cut on the end of a short board should give you the willies (I'm seeing fingers flying all over the place). Make a jig to securly hold the piece for these cuts. Or, you could use the dado to plane off as much material as you can then use a chisel to finish the edge up to the transition cut.

    When you are planing with the dado, leave an uncut rail on each side to support the work and you won't need to make a jig.

  13. #13
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    Hi guys. Dano's little chart gave me an idea.

    Why not make 2 bars at once!

    If you are doing 1 1/2 wide bars with a 1/4 spline, with the bar being 3/4 inch thick, you will need a total blank of 1 1/2 by 2 1/8. (3/4 + 1/4) x 2 + 1/8. The 1/8 inch is the thickness of your saw blade, which will cut them apart at the end.

    So set up your dado blade to cut a 5/8 inch groove right in the middle of the blank.

    Dado both sides.

    Then just cut apart!

    On the other hand, I am thinking about going with Top Bar guy's idea about a wax mold keyed to a simple kerf.\\

    but this should make it easier. The dado blade will be buried in both cuts.

    david

  14. #14
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    I tested Dano's method today. His differed from my original only in that he used the far side of the dado blade while I was using the near side. Using my original fence I cut perfectly centered splines with ease. The two feather boards really work when it comes to holding the top bar in place on the fence. Many Thanks, Dano.

    Now; as to cutting frames:
    I see your point about the radius on the transition, Dano. I will have to consider that.

    I made the jig this afternoon. NO WAY WOULD I CONSIDER TRYING TO DADO SHORT BOARDS WHILE HOLDING THE BOARDS WITH MY HANDS. I made a box jig sized to exactly fit 1x6's 10 inches long. this will work for either mediums or deeps.
    The box sides are full depth 2X stock, 1&1/2 inches deep. I cut 1/2 inch x 2 oak strips to cross the top and tie them together, and 3/8 inch pieces to go on the ends. All these pieces were screwed together with a stock piece inside to that they came together sqare and tight.

    I then drilled 4 holes in the side pieces 1/2 inch down from the top.

    To use this box one inserts the stock, whether for full depth or medium frames. With the stock in the box and with the whole thing sitting on the workbench, press down on the box and insert a hive nail in each of the four holes in the side rails. Tap them in about a half inch with a hammer.

    Now set jig and stock on the saw, adjust your dado so that a cut leaves exactly 1&3/8 inches of stock and work the jig across the dado until the stock is planed.
    You can do this by adjusting the fence for each cut or by using an extended miter board.

    Once these stock pieces are cut to an inch and three-eighths and the top and bottom dados are cut, the side cuts can be made with a similar box and inch and three-eighths deep, using a stop block clamped to the saw table to limit the cut.

    When you make these jigs remember that you do not want screws in the path of your dado. The nails in the side rails will be well above your cut, but if you cut far into the side rails you are asking for trouble. Just be careful to stay out of the side rails of your jig. You will have to cut portions of the end pieces on the jigs, but there are no screws or nails in those places.

    Dano; you seem to have a lot more experience here than I; suggestions please.
    Ox

    [This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited September 25, 2004).]

  15. #15
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    The functional part of your jig is the 2" side rails. The oak strips on the top serve to hold the rails apart so they won't securely hold the stock if the width varies, requires screws into the side rails that you have to watch out for while planing and prevent the block from being reversed for working the other side without reseting the stock in the jig.

    So keep the side rails but lengthen them slightly and secure them to the work with a pair 9" bolts through the centers at each end of the work piece. If you countersink the bolts into the side rails you can even run the jig up against the fence.

    Remember that you will be planing off both sides so only take half the excess off each side. If your saw has an accurate depth guide write the final settings down on the side of the jig for the next time. Raise the dado blade and put in the stop to do the lower cuts. No need to change jigs.

    BTW: The proper tool for shaping the narrow end of the frame sides would be a 6" jointer. These start for around $200-$250 new for the low end models. The jointer has a 2" cutting blade so you would get the same transition curve found on many commercial frames.

    PPS: To further improve the jig, fashion a pair of oak splines that will exactly fit the groves on the top and bottom of the side boards with a center channel that exactly fits over the bolts. This will lock the work piece in place so it won't be able to go anywhere and insures that the top and bottom groves will be exactly centered in the finished piece.

    PPPS: I measured the transitions using scaled drawings and determined that the 2" jointer will produce a 1/2" transition curve with a 60 deg. angle where adjacent curves meet. A 7" dado blade will produce a 1" transition with a narrow 30 deg. angle. While there may be a little more propolizing with the shallower curve it should not be significant. In fact, I found some old frames in my collection with the shallower transition and there was no extra propolis at those points.

    [This message has been edited by DanO (edited September 26, 2004).]

  16. #16
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    Thanks, Dano;
    This will make it easy for anyone who want to make frames.

  17. #17
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    The only operation left is to slice off the 3/8" bars.

    I've been thinking that with the oak splines on the jig it might be possible to slice the boards first before shaping the sides. The slicing could then be done safely using finger boards on top and a push stick on the side.

  18. #18
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    Dano:

    I must be missing something here.

    As I understood it you propose to cut the top and bottom channels for the end bars then clamp the block in the jig, positioning it with splined end-pieces on the jig. You would then plane both sides to get the centered 1&3/8 frame ends.

    If you left the block in the jig you could not slice the frames off the block without cutting your jig bolts????? Even if you make the jig so long that you can work entirely within the jig, you would still cut your splines along with the end bars. What am I missing here?

    My proposal was to make one cut on the raw block, planing one side only to get a 1&3/8 block. I would then take the block out of the jig and cut the top and bottom bar channels. At that point the block could be reinserted in the jig and clamped to cut one side of the tapered portion of the frame. Reverse the block in the jig, cut the other side. Remove the block and split off the individual frames. If you are lucky enough to own a router or shaper you can cut the tapered portion of the frames after splitting them off the block, but it seems simple enough to me to cut the whole thing on the table saw. If you do not fancy slicing bars off an uneven block (as it would be after narrowing the bottom of the workpiece) you could always slide a shim under that portion of the block and it the narrow end of the block ride on this shim while cutting. You could either cut off pieces of the shim with the end bar or slide your shim out 3/8 inch with each successive cut.

    I do like your idea of making the jig longer and using the 9 inch bolts to clamp the workpiece. Why not mark the midline of the side rails, then drive in a couple of small nails along this midline, leaving each project about a half inch. Then cut off the heads, leaving only about 1/8 inch of nail. File these sharp so that when the clamping bolts were tightened the sharpened ends would press into the workpiece, locking it securely into the jig even if the clamping bolts were only moderately tight. (If we were doing it my way, making only one cut to narrow the block, I would insert the nails along a line 11/16 inch down from the top of the rails . This would put them in the midline of the completed frame.
    Ox

  19. #19
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    I think what you are missing is that my proposed procedure is almost completely reversed from yours.

    Starting with a solid blocks of 2 by whatever, cut lengths for the desired frame size. Cut the top and bottom notches into the ends of these boards. Then slice these blocks into 3/8th inch wide strips. I'm slicing the boards now while they are square and are easier to handle. Since the blocks are still a uniform 1 1/2" thick, a finger board can be used to help steady the work and keep your fingers out of the blade.

    20 of these slices can be placed in the jig (built to hold 7.5" of stock) with the oak spines filling the previously cut notches and everything clamped tight with the two bolts. Set the saw for 1/16" using a dado or flat miter blade if you have one. Plane one side, flip it over and plane the other side to reduce the width of the top end to 1 3/8". Raise the blade to 3/16" and place a stop on the table to plane to lower ends of the bars on both sides to leave 1 1/8".

    If you have a lot of frames to make, notch and slice several boards while you have the saw setup for those operations. when you are shaping the sides you can leave the stop in place for both the wide and narrow ends because you can reverse the jig to run the top in first while shaping the wide end and the bottom first while shaping the narrow end.

    For those that prefer pictures, here is a rough draft of the end bar jig. http://www.users.uswest.net/~oetting.../EndBarJig.pdf

    [This message has been edited by DanO (edited September 30, 2004).]

  20. #20
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    Slick, Dano, Slick.

    I don't need to make any frames, but I may make the jig and do a few just to learn some smooth woodworking.

    I knew that somewhere out there there was someone who knew how to do this stuff.

    I'll be using your jig for the splined top bars pretty regularly. I prefer splines, and grooving top bars and gluing in splines is a real pain. Cut on your jig the splines are perfectly centered, uniform and any width/depth you choose.
    Ox

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