Can I install a Split Ring without using a Grooving Tool or a Shear Plate without using the Dapping Tool?
In theory, one could potentially carve out a groove that would be sufficient for fitting a shear plate or split ring. However the labor and ability to carve an exact fitting grove would be time consuming as well as tedious. All references to the proper installation of shear plates and split rings, such as the Canadian Wood Council, specifically refers to using a specially designed cutting tool for a given size of shear plate or split ring.
According to ASTM D5933, section 5.1.7:
“Since slight variations in some dimensions are permitted, each shear plate manufacturer shall have available the special groove cutting tools necessary to properly install the standard shear plates of his manufacture.”
In other words, since there are slight tolerances allowed for the shear plate and split ring connector dimensions, it would be very difficult to account for that in making a groove manually. The cutting tool is designed to cut an exact groove, which saves time and money. In addition, the cutting blades on the tool are adjustable in order to compensate for the tolerances of the shear plate and split ring diameters. Even when installing only a handful of wood connectors, the use of a specialized Grooving Tool or Dapping Tool is essential. If you figure the hours of labor it would take to individually carve out each groove manually, the Grooving Tool or Dapping Tool becomes a worthwhile investment.