What Is A Dutchman Splice? (Splicing vs Dutchman)

If you are interested in woodworking, then you may be wondering how you can repair mistakes or damages in your projects. Accidents can happen, or wood can become rotten over time, so it is vital that you have a means of restoring, mending and fixing up your projects sometime. 

This is where the terms dutchman and splicing may have entered your vocabulary. You see these terms used all the time in woodworking forums, tutorials and other media, so what do they actually mean? 

Well, both the terms are used to complete repairs or fix problems in woodworking, so you are probably wondering which is best to do when it comes to your project.

Luckily, this guide is here to help you understand what a dutchman is, what a splice is and how they are different from one another.  

What is a dutchman in woodworking?

The term dutchman is both complementary and derogatory. It is generally accepted that this term came about due to the sailors on ships, and how they would mend their vessels.

Whilst the dutch were considered great constructors of ships, perhaps the term to ‘dutchman’ is about having to repair something after shoddy work. So, it may not be a complement after all! 

When it comes to construction and woodworking, the term dutchman is used to refer to an inset wood patch, which is basically an easy way to repair wood.

When creating a dutchman, a square inset is cut into the damaged area of wood, and a new piece of wood is glued into the inset to cover up accidents, damages or rot. This is then sanded and blended into the overall piece of wood to patch it up. 

Therefore, a dutchman is basically a wood patch or filler that can replace damaged wood or a missing part of the wood object. You can create a dutchman by removing a broken part of your wooden project, and replacing it with a patch. 

What is a splice in woodworking?

On the other hand, a splice is a little different, as this is used for joints. A splice joint is a means of joining two members end to end during your woodworking projects. A splice is often utilized when the material that is being joined is not available in the length that you need. 

This type of joint is simply an alternative to other types of joints such as the scarf joint or butt joint. However, a splice joint will be stronger than other joints, which is why they are most often used for construction.

Splices are often considered the best way to join shorter lengths of timber into longer beams, and are sturdy structural elements that will improve your woodworking skills. There are actually four different types of splice joints, the half lap, tabled, bevel lap, and tapered finger.

The half lap splice joint is one of the simplest and most commonly used to join structural members where there is not enough length. The joint is cut at a half lap so that the beams can fit together.

On the other hand, a bevel lap splice joint is a variation of this, where the opposing beams or members are cut at a sloping angle to provide tension, which stops the beams from being pulled apart. 

Then, we can have tabled splice joints, which are also a variation of the typical half lap joint. These are created by cutting the cheeks with interlocking surfaces so that the joint cannot be pulled apart, providing extra structural support. 

Finally, there is the tapered finger splice joint. This is done by creating a series of fingers in the beams so that they can interlock with the opposing ends of other beams and members. The joint is then fixed together and glued as an extra precaution. 

What is the difference between splicing and dutchman?

The main difference between splicing and creating a dutchman is the purpose. The purpose of splicing is to join two pieces of wood end to end together to make a longer piece or beam of wood.

On the other hand, a dutchman does involve adding a piece of wood to another, but it is more used to repair, patch and mend a piece of wood instead. 

Is it better to splice or dutchman?

Whether it is better to splice or dutchman a piece of woodwork depends on the particular problem you are facing.

If you need to join two pieces of wood together to extend the piece, or to make a beam or member much longer, then you will be better off splicing, to create a join in the wood to gain greater length. 

However, if you need to repair something in your woodwork, then you will be better off using the dutchman method. With the dutchman, you will be able to cut a small piece of wood that you can glue over a rotten, broken or unsightly piece of wood to cover it up.

Then, you will be able to trim, sand and blend the new patch, the dutchman, in with the rest of the wood piece. 


There are so many phrases and terms in woodworking that have been borrowed from nautical culture, as sailors would often create nicknames and terms for fixing up the vessels they worked on. Many of these have been adopted by woodworkers, and still remain today.

However, this can be a little confusing, as when you hear dutchman, you either think of pirates and ships or those from the Netherlands and Germany. 

But that’s not the case. A dutchman, in terms of woodworking, is a way to repair and patch wood, whereas a splice is a way of joining wood to extend it.