Biscuit Joiner?

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  • David Meek
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 8938

    Biscuit Joiner?

    Hi gang. I'm looking for recommendations on a biscuit joiner. Thoughts? Opinions?




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  • Hank
    Super Senior Member
    • Jul 2002
    • 1345

    #2
    David, I don't own one, so can't make a recommendation. I'm curious - why do you want one? Since biscuits don't increase joint strength greatly, most people (including Norm of New Yankee Workshop) say they use one to help keep two boards "lined up" while the glue-up is being done. I'm not sure that's a great advantage, unless with very large boards/panels. I've used biscuits (slot cutting bit on my table-mounted router) and they helped only on long boards I was edge-gluing.
    Anyway, I think I'd take a look at Freud's unit if I were in the market. Freud seems to be good value - I've got their big router.

    Comment

    • JonMarsh
      Mad Max Moderator
      • Aug 2000
      • 15269

      #3
      Hi Guys,

      Well, unlike Hank, the last thing I'd ever describe myself as is a woodworking expert. Maybe because of that, I have found biscuit joiners, or plate joiners, as they're sometimes referred to, to be fairly handy. Some folks say a biscuit joint isn't any stronger, other's say it is- I don't have an answer for that one, I just know it's easier for me to put together complex cabinets accurately with judicious use of a biscuit joiner. :W

      .... and yes, I did use biscuits extensively i putting together these, it would have been a lot harder to do it as accurately with the clamp and jig selection I have, otherwise.







      Here's a decent write up comparing the mertis of severl models on the market, including the Freud, DeWalt, Makita, Virutez, and Porter Cable.

      Woodsmith Plans has hundreds of the best DIY project plans from Woodsmith, ShopNotes, and Workbench magazines...all for immediate download.




      When I was selecting mine, I went in stores and hefted and played with the adjustments, and tried to get a feel for how they'd work in the actual application, to get an idea of how the adjustments and ergonomics worked. About as close as you can come to actually using them, without doing so. On that basis, I selected the DeWalt kit. :T



      You can find a fairly attractive price on the DeWalt at your local Lowe's; for local retail, the store help doesn't know beans from shinola in most cases, but their tool prices are good; I've also bought a Hitachi M12V router from them, at a price as low as the best I could find online. That's a honey of a router, BTW. :banana: I'm a sucker for nice tools....

      Good luck with your tool hunting.

      Regards,

      Jon




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      • Dennis H
        Ultra Senior Member
        • Aug 2002
        • 3791

        #4
        I love biscuits. Back in the day we used dowels and home-made splines but biscuits are much easier. Some glue joints, such as end grain on solid wood and edge grain on plywood, are quite weak without some help. I first used them to replace the dowels in hardwood face frames; now I use them for almost everything cuz they're so dang easy. Hank, just go buy one. You'll never look back.

        Comment

        • PMazz
          Senior Member
          • May 2001
          • 861

          #5
          We use them in the shop quite a bit. Alignment is the key. But be careful with the amount of glue you use with them. They work by swelling with the moisture from the glue. On solid wood, no problem. With ply or especially MDF, they can split the board if too much glue is absorbed. You can also run into trouble with bisquits swelling and then flat sanding, only to have bisquit shaped dimples show up later on because the moisture in the board and bisquit has returned to normal. Get one of the cheap plastic flat tipped glue bottles made for applying glue in the slot and use it sparingly.

          They will also create two small voids on either side of the bisquit when glued up, as the bisquit needs to be loose in the slot. Probably not a problem, but everyone always says to buy void-free material for speakers.

          A nail gun and glue is much quicker, unless profiling the edges is in the plans.

          Pete
          Birth of a Media Center

          Comment

          • Lex
            Moderator Emeritus
            • Apr 2001
            • 27461

            #6
            I was gonna say bacon and egg or sausage and egg as a bisquit "joiner". Two bisquits jioned by your condement of choice. :LOL:

            Lex




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            Doug
            "I'm out there Jerry, and I'm loving every minute of it!" - Kramer

            Comment

            • JonMarsh
              Mad Max Moderator
              • Aug 2000
              • 15269

              #7
              Well, you've got to watch out for swelling when sausage and egg are used too often as a joiner material with biscuits, too! :rofl:


              Pete, I found one good way to avoid the glue swelling problem with biscuits- it can be a real bummer with MDF and ply... use epoxy! It's stronger, too, especially if there are any voids! :B And it's safe to avoid the void, 'cause the biscuit won't get fat! Nor will you!

              Regards,

              Jon




              Earth First!
              _______________________________
              We'll screw up the other planets later....
              the AudioWorx
              Natalie P
              M8ta
              Modula Neo DCC
              Modula MT XE
              Modula Xtreme
              Isiris
              Wavecor Ardent

              SMJ
              Minerva Monitor
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              In Development...
              Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
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              Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
              Just ask Mr. Ohm....

              Comment

              • PMazz
                Senior Member
                • May 2001
                • 861

                #8
                Epoxy for assembly.....Yo, Jon, I pay guys by the hour. And it's expensive! You DIY guys are nuts!

                Speaking of nuts....You should see the looks I get when I'm in the shop working on speakers. Not to mention the verbal abuse. They just don't understand the nuances of building speakers.

                Pete
                Birth of a Media Center

                Comment

                • JonMarsh
                  Mad Max Moderator
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 15269

                  #9
                  Speaking of nuts....You should see the looks I get when I'm in the shop working on speakers. Not to mention the verbal abuse. They just don't understand the nuances of building speakers.

                  Pete

                  I can readily believe it, Pete.

                  I participate in a couple of woodworking forums from time to time, and though the guys are affable and tolerate me pretty well, I'm sure they fundamentally believe I'm looney tunes! Pune intended....

                  When they see something like the M8ta project, they just figure it's because I haven't learned how to do good right angles yet... :rofl:

                  I'm careful about how and where I buy slow setting epoxy, to get good deals. If you're just in need for a small quantity for a little job, Walmart has the best prices for the dual tube plunger thingies; they're about 40% less than your local big box store.

                  Also, a few different people have done studies on this, and concluded that "hard glues" like expoxies provide better damping and sound better in speaker cabinets... so does hardwood bracing like red oak, which has about three times the Young's modulus of MDF. That's why there's so much in the M8 two way.

                  But that's the beauty of DIY; since you're doing it for results for yourself, on a small scale, and your time and efforts are a big factor in the results, spending a little more on glue doesn't really affect the "profit margin" in anything except a more positive result for your efforts. Just MVHO.

                  ~Jon




                  Earth First!
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                  We'll screw up the other planets later....
                  the AudioWorx
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                  Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                  Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                  Comment

                  • Brandon B
                    Super Senior Member
                    • Jun 2001
                    • 2193

                    #10
                    My .02 :

                    The DeWalt and Port&Cable are probably the best feature/performance wise witht he P&C being tops but the DeWalt being a decent savings over it in price.

                    There are some nicer ones, but they are the pricey european models.

                    Any of the big brands will be a decent tool though. Also, I'm going off 2 year old research. Don't know what models have changed or come out since then.

                    BB

                    Comment

                    • Hank
                      Super Senior Member
                      • Jul 2002
                      • 1345

                      #11
                      "No pune intended"
                      Is a pune a pun with music?
                      Take it from Pete the professional: a brad nailer and glue is the way if you're building a cabinet too large for you to hold panels in alignment by yourself. Once the tool is paid for, brads are cheaper than biscuits and brad nailers are cheaper than biscuit joiners. Much faster than cutting biscuit slots and gluing in biscuits. More effecient and cheaper - what else do you want - green stamps? :LOL:

                      Comment

                      • JonMarsh
                        Mad Max Moderator
                        • Aug 2000
                        • 15269

                        #12
                        Hey Hank,

                        I remember Green stamps.... guess that dates me a bit.

                        We aren't getting "pune itive" here, are we? :W

                        I've tried the brad nailer thing working at Tom's before, he has an air and an electric one, but I had trouble with splitting MDF edges. First experience with biscuits was so-so, second was an absolute breeze and charm. Never looked back since, it's just become SOP. I like the way biscuits keep everything lined up as I'm assembling, had more difficulty doing that with brads. Just a limitation of my work style, I guess.

                        Bottom line, I figure do what works for you, whatever it is.

                        Unfortunately, the last two weekends I'm mostly been doing work, not fun stuff. Knocked off about quarter till ten last night. My daughter was working late yesterday, too, so we just decided to put off Fathers Day till later this week.

                        Regards,

                        Jon




                        Earth First!
                        _______________________________
                        We'll screw up the other planets later....
                        the AudioWorx
                        Natalie P
                        M8ta
                        Modula Neo DCC
                        Modula MT XE
                        Modula Xtreme
                        Isiris
                        Wavecor Ardent

                        SMJ
                        Minerva Monitor
                        Calliope
                        Ardent D

                        In Development...
                        Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                        Obi-Wan
                        Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                        Modula PWB
                        Calliope CC Supreme
                        Natalie P Ultra
                        Natalie P Supreme
                        Janus BP1 Sub


                        Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                        Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                        Comment

                        • Dennis H
                          Ultra Senior Member
                          • Aug 2002
                          • 3791

                          #13
                          Take it from Pete the professional: a brad nailer and glue is the way if you're building a cabinet too large for you to hold panels in alignment by yourself.
                          Well, this professional begs to differ with such a blanket statement. Naturally, YMMV. :LOL:

                          Comment

                          • Hank
                            Super Senior Member
                            • Jul 2002
                            • 1345

                            #14
                            Can't let that go, Dennis. Forums are chock full of blanket statements, including those by biscuit joint lovers The blanket statements I can't stand are the ones made by people comparing two items who have used only one of the items. As Jon alluded to, it's whatever method works for and is comfortable for you.

                            Comment

                            • David Meek
                              Moderator Emeritus
                              • Aug 2000
                              • 8938

                              #15
                              Thanks for the replies gang, blankets and all. :B I already have a nice Bostich finishing nail gun, and am looking for something a bit less "impacting" for delicate joins.




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                              • Dennis H
                                Ultra Senior Member
                                • Aug 2002
                                • 3791

                                #16
                                I just realized I didn't answer the original question. I like my Makita biscuit joiner a lot. The DeWalt looks nice as well but I haven't used one.



                                Of course, I also love my Senco air tools. I have several for driving different sizes and shapes of metal fasteners. Back in the day, Senco was clearly better than the others but that has probably changed. I've just never had any reason to look very hard at the other brands.

                                TOOLS INSPIRED BY HARD WORK, AND DESIGNEDTO MAKE IT EASIER.

                                Comment

                                • PMazz
                                  Senior Member
                                  • May 2001
                                  • 861

                                  #17
                                  I just realized I didn't answer the original question.
                                  Oops....Same here.

                                  I use both a Virutex and a Lamello. Both work fine. Only thing I would say to look closely at would be the fence. The Virutex can sometimes be set out of parallel with the cutter if you're not careful. The Lamello is more precise, and can also be set to any angle, instead of just 90 and 45 degree.

                                  BTW, I was strictly talking about speaker enclosures. Plate joiners are indispensible for doing blind fastening w/o mechanical fasteners. As Dennis said, much quicker than dowels or splines. And more forgiving.

                                  Pete
                                  Birth of a Media Center

                                  Comment

                                  • Lex
                                    Moderator Emeritus
                                    • Apr 2001
                                    • 27461

                                    #18
                                    something a bit less "impacting" for delicate joins.
                                    Have you tried New Balance with sorbethane? :LOL:

                                    Lex
                                    Doug
                                    "I'm out there Jerry, and I'm loving every minute of it!" - Kramer

                                    Comment

                                    • David Meek
                                      Moderator Emeritus
                                      • Aug 2000
                                      • 8938

                                      #19
                                      No, no, no. Not delicate "joints". JOINS. :B Actually, my running shoes are NewBalance - the 1006s.

                                      Boy, did we just go off topic, or what?




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                                      • AndrewM
                                        Senior Member
                                        • Oct 2000
                                        • 446

                                        #20
                                        Well I'm a little late to the party, but my most recent project I finally bit the bullet and bought a biscuit joiner, just the cheapest thing I could find at Home Depot, and it made a world of difference in putting everything together. Granted it's not the best model out there, and took quite a bit of tweaking before it was all setup perfectly, but what a difference in assembling an enclosure. I went from having to use quite a bit of bondo and sanding to fade out uneven edges to just needing to sand them down a little bit and fill in the crach just a little.

                                        Well worth it.

                                        Andrew

                                        Comment

                                        • JonMarsh
                                          Mad Max Moderator
                                          • Aug 2000
                                          • 15269

                                          #21
                                          My experience exactly, Andrew. Experienced high volume woodworkers like Hank may have their skills with a nail gun honed to the point that that really works well for them, and allows them to work quite quickly. I do semi-serious woodworking on an occasional basis, so having tools that promote accuracy and polish in the finished results make a big difference.

                                          I looked closely at the Ryobi biscuit joiner for cost reasons, but the desire for ease and accuracy of setup led me to pop the extra bucks for the DeWalt; between it and the Porter Cable, though, I couldn't really see any significant advantages, and depending on working style, I could see some disadvantages. So I'm quite happy with the results.

                                          This is coming from a guy that does DIY wood working on an "On and Off basis since the early 70's. In theI built two sets of AR LST clones, (plus a number of TL designs, some dual 12" subwoofers, and in the late 70's got pretty serious with a friend on some TP speakers with complex cabinets). and with the radial arm saw and dado head which I had at the time, that was something of an accomplishment.

                                          As you folks well know, I'm more of a wire and sparks and PCB's kind of guy- my investment in CAD tools and test equipment makes my wood tool purchases look like snack food in comparison. :W

                                          Regards,

                                          Jon




                                          Earth First!
                                          _______________________________
                                          We'll screw up the other planets later....
                                          the AudioWorx
                                          Natalie P
                                          M8ta
                                          Modula Neo DCC
                                          Modula MT XE
                                          Modula Xtreme
                                          Isiris
                                          Wavecor Ardent

                                          SMJ
                                          Minerva Monitor
                                          Calliope
                                          Ardent D

                                          In Development...
                                          Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                                          Obi-Wan
                                          Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                                          Modula PWB
                                          Calliope CC Supreme
                                          Natalie P Ultra
                                          Natalie P Supreme
                                          Janus BP1 Sub


                                          Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                                          Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                                          Comment

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