Advice needed: splined long miter joint?

I'm working on a piece for my father - a display case for a hand-built model train. This is my first "real" woodworking piece (other than shelves).
I'm working with 1" thick walnut. The case has a solid bottom, front, and back, with a carrying handle across the top. I'm mitering the joint between bottom/front and bottom/back - so a 8" long miter across 1" stock. I'm worried that it won't have enough strength, and so I'd like to put a spline in along the miter joint. The jigs, etc. that I've seen work with a miter across the material rather than along it, and I'm trying to figure out how to cut the groove in the pieces. They're not glued, so can be cut individually.
I have a tablesaw and a router table. Cutting the groove on the TS would be straightforward - crank it over to 45 degrees and cut into the side of the miter. I'm worried about how much the piece would kick, though, since it seems like that's a really dangerous way to cut wood.
Any advice?
Also... I'm not very familiar with woods other than walnut and oak. For a contrasting look, would light-colored maple complement well? Any other suggestions?
Thanks!
Drew Bernat abernat <at> zathras <dot> net
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"Drew Bernat" wrote in message

Not any more inherently dangerous if you use a miter gauge to make the cut on your table saw ... no fence, though!

Walnut and oak are a good contrast. Maple would also contrast with walnut, but oak looks better, IMO. Cherry does also, but it tends to darken with exposure, while walnut may get lighter, reducing the contrast.
The choice is basically a matter of personal preference.
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Drew Bernat wrote:

Even with a spline, you'd be relying almost entirely on the glue to hold the bottom in.
Have you considered a variation of a locked rabbet? Put a 1/2" dado in the front/back, 1/2" up from the bottom. Put a 1/2" rabbet in the bottom so it fits in the dado.
With the bottom grain running front to back I'm betting it would be plenty strong.
Chris
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Drew Bernat wrote:

I put splined miters in a set of shadow boxes for my daughter's trophies, and instead of tilting the blade, I found I had an easier time using a 45-degree jig (basically a 3-sided box out of birch ply) with the workpiece clamped to it, mitered edge flat flush with the table, and running that across with the blade at 90 degrees. It was easier to ensure the proper depth of cut, at least for me.
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Thanks for the suggestions! I already cut the miters, but next time... more planning, less cutting. Sounds like a jig is the way to go.
And I'll look into butternut. Time to see what the local Woodcraft carries.
Drew
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wrote:

There is a "lock miter bit" that is made for this application.
http://woodworker.com/cgi-bin/FULLPRES.exe?PARTNUM -034
I'm not advocating this site, it's just the first one I found to show you what I mean. They may be less expensive elsewhere- IIRC, Grizzly has them as well.

Butternut (often called "white walnut") looks great contrasting Walnut. It has similar grain, but is signifigantly softer, and a very nice gold color.
Maple will contrast, but it's hard to say how good it would look- that's going to depend a lot on how you use it. Thin strips inset in the walnut would look great, but larger pieces of it might look a little forced- it's a big contrast.
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