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Biscuit joiners are used for quickly connecting timber panels on indoor furniture, and for many other woodworking timber joining jobs. The electric or cordless jointer tool quickly rebates the perfect sized slot on two surfaces to perfectly connect and glue timber edges.
Wood plate jointer tools come in both cordless and as a dedicated electric tool. With this tool, you don’t really need to be cordless as you will be inside your workshop anyway, but there is still an advantage with the flexibility of not having a lead.
Makita and Dewalt have an excellent option for getting a great value biscuit cutter. The Lamello Classic X is the original and highest quality portable jointer for the biggest woodworking enthusiasts.
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Biscuit joiners are power tools that serve a particular purpose: they cut slots into the wood, through which “biscuits” are inserted. Biscuits are flat wooden discs that when inserted into the slots secure two different slabs of wood together. With the combination of glue and the biscuit expanding with PVA glue to tightly clamp itself to both surfaces.
Biscuit joiners have been around since the early 1960s when a Swiss woodworker named Hermann Steiner developed them. It was also Steiner who established the Lamello brand, which was responsible for some of the most highly-regarded professional biscuit joiners on the market.
In principle, plate joiners are quite similar to angle grinders. Instead of the diamond or abrasive cutters found in angle grinders, however, the best biscuit joiners typically have a tungsten-carbide tip (TCT) blade. They also have steel “fences” that stabilize the unit and ensure evenly raised slots.
Biscuit joiners are pretty rudimentary in function–they pretty much only let you cut slots into slabs of wood. Even so, this basic function allows for a pretty broad range of carpentry and woodworking tasks.
With a quality joiner in your shop, you can attach two pieces of wood to make a wider board, make neatly-fitting joints, and even assemble strong and durable shelves and cabinets. For such a seemingly simple tool, the range of things you can create with a good electric joiner is pretty impressive.
How do biscuit joiners work
Electric joiners are fairly simple tools that perform a single basic function: cut slots into wood. These tools have a “fence” (usually made of heavy stainless steel) that you press flush against the edge or surface of the piece of wood where you want the cut.
Plate joiners have a sharp cutting blade that pushes against the wood when the power is switched on. After making a similar cut into another piece of wood, they can be joined together with wooden football-shaped discs known as “biscuits”.
After your cuts have been made pull out your expanding wood biscuit from your woodwork apron insert your biscuit inside the perfectly shaped slots with some PVA glue.
Pressing the two pieces together, the biscuits expand to create a strong wood jointing system! that many woodworkers rely on for their furniture building projects.
When to use a biscuit joiner?
Biscuit joints are pretty strong and versatile and can support fairly heavy loads. You can, therefore, use biscuit joiners to create a wide variety of furniture, from tables and benches to bookshelves and even cupboards.
Biscuit joiners are useful for any task that involves joining slabs of wood together. Although most woodworkers use them to join two pieces of wood side by side, they can also be used to make butt joints and for joining the edge of a slab to a flat surface, as you would when making a shelf.
Even if you opt to use glue to attach two pieces of wood, using biscuits will help ensure proper alignment when you clamp the individual pieces together.
When not to use a biscuit joiner?
Biscuits are probably not the best choice when the joint is subject to moister or the outdoors.
They are also less suitable for pieces that will undergo repeated stress and flexing. In some cases, biscuits may be unnecessary if you have two pieces with precisely cut edges and good, strong wood glue, and additional support in the framing.
Alternative timber joining vs. Biscuit joining
Dowels aren’t a stronger alternative to biscuits for flat surfaces. However, wooden dowels definitely have their place for some jobs, were critical alignment isn’t necessary. You can get a dowel deeper into your wood join using your best cordless drill that is sturdy and well-aligned. Wood drill bits that are sharp and a center spike to guide the bore-out will make for much better alignment.
You will have to spend a bunch more using a drill, however. The time it takes to mark and drill holes while still getting the dowels in perfect can be challenging and take a bit longer to get perfectly flush.
Dovetail joints are generally considered to be the most attractive, which makes them ideally suited for outside corners and decorative purposes. They are also pretty strong and durable and are very resistant to being pulled apart.
However, dovetailing can’t be used to join two slabs of timber together in the same way as biscuit joining or doweling.
Finger joints are considerably easier to make than dovetail joins, because the pins are square rather than angled. They can also serve a decorative purpose, and look especially attractive in corner joins with several small pins cut into the wood.
Keep in mind however that finger joins aren’t as reliable as biscuit, dowel, or dovetail joins.
You can also use steel brackets to hold two slabs together, but it doesn’t bind the pieces together in the same way as biscuit joining or doweling. On the plus side, they can bear pretty heavy loads.
They can also be used for decorative purposes and look especially attractive with the brackets painted black.
Best way to join slabs of wood
Any of the methods mentioned above can be used to join slabs of wood together effectively. Your choice only depends on what you are trying to accomplish and how you want the final product to look. You will also have to consider how much load the joint will bear, and whether or not it will undergo constant stress and tension.
That being said, biscuit joins are an excellent choice for many reasons. They are quick and easy to make, and they can handle pretty heavy loads when combined with good strong glue.
If you need more support for heavy loads, you could add steel brackets to the underside of the joint.
For more information on how to build a table straight from a tree click here.
Biscuit joiner key features
Biscuit joiners made by Dewalt, Makita, Festool, and Lamello are among the best tools you can buy at any price.
As with any power tool, it is always worth going with a professional quality unit as opposed to a DIY model, even if it is strictly for home use. With plate joiners made by these manufacturers, you could generally expect better overall quality and more accurate results.
Biscuit joiners are pretty simple tools, but they will undergo some heavy use. Make sure that any biscuit joiner you buy can withstand regular heavy use without breaking down or falling apart.
Always go for a biscuit joiner that gives you the option to cut different-sized slots. You will generally want to go for the largest biscuits that your workpiece will accommodate, but there may be times when you will need to use smaller biscuits.
Your biscuit joiner should have sufficient power to cut through hard, heavy, and dense woods cleanly and efficiently. This is especially important considering that making biscuit joins typically involves cutting into hard and heavy material.
Biscuit joiners are relatively inexpensive but don’t go for the cheapest model you can find. A decent mid-priced model isn’t that much more expensive than the budget options, and they will pay off in terms of better performance, longer life, and useful features.
Who uses a biscuit joiner?
DIY and woodworkers
Biscuit joiners make it possible for even inexperienced DIY’ers to create secure and professional-looking joints with little effort. DIY’ers with limited tools and experience often find it difficult to create seamless joints, with pieces that sit perfectly flush with each other. Biscuit joiners make this a relatively easy task and are well suited to materials such as plywood, chipboard, and particleboard, which many DIY’ers typically work with.
Biscuit joiners can be used to make wide boards from separate wooden pieces. They are also useful for creating shelves or multi-paneled cabinets, which often require attaching the edge of a board to a flat surface at a 90° angle. Screws or steel brackets could be used for added strength if the shelf is meant to bear heavy loads.
First, run you, boards, through a quality Dewalt thickness planer, when all the boards are the exact same width, you can use a biscuit joiner set to the same depth on every board for a perfectly aligning join.
How to use a biscuit joiner
As with any power tool, eye protection is a must when using a biscuit joiner. Although you never have to dig deep into the wood, there is still a risk posed by wooden chips and debris flying out and hitting you in the eye. Always use a good pair of safety goggles to prevent injury.
Make sure that your workbench is as flat and as stable as possible. Wobbly workbenches with uneven surfaces could result in misaligned slots, making it difficult or impossible to fit connecting slabs properly.
For added stability, you may even opt to use as many woodworking clamps as necessary to keep the work-piece from moving while you are cutting a slot into it.
If you are sawing out these slabs from a larger piece of wood, make sure your Makita circular saw is sharp enough to cut and create a reasonably nice edge.
The wood slabs you will join together should have straight and smooth edges to ensure a snugger fit. You can use a power planer on the joining edges, to get them smooth and flat using the tools square guide.
|Lamello Classic x 101600||Makita XJP03Z||Makita PJ7000||DEWALT DW682K||Lamello Zeta-P2 101402S||Festool 574432||PORTER-CABLE||VonHaus||AOBEN||Gino Development 01-0102||Triton|
|Amps:||6.5 Amps||18V Cordless||5.6 Amps||6.5 Amps||8.75 Amps||3.5 Amps||7 Amps||8.5 Amps||8.5 Amps||8.4 Amps||6.3 Amps|
A biscuit joiner can be a handy tool to have in your workshop. If you want to go beyond basic carpentry and woodworking, a good biscuit joiner will allow you to make impressive-looking joints with little effort.
Even if you later opt to explore more sophisticated methods for joining wooden work-pieces, you will continue to find many uses for your biscuit joiner.