Do you use a biscuit joiner and if so, for what?

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
This thread is for Jeff who asked the same question in a For Sale thread :)

I'll lead off: I use a joiner for quick and easy tenons. The last project I made using one was a couple of bed frames. I used size S biscuits to join panels to the legs to make headboard and footboard assemblies, all in SYP. The joints are end-grain to sidegrain. The beds were used everyday by my young sons. The joints are perfect after 8 years.

I've also used them to build large & heavy interior oak doors with the same results.

-Mark
 

gmakra

George
Senior User
I use a biscuit joiner even though I have a Festool domino along with dowels and traditional mortis and tendon . The biscuit joiner is still a viable tool and cheaper to use than a domino. It's part of my arsenal of tools.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
I use mine occasionally, mostly for large panel glue ups to help with alignment.
I also use it for making and attaching face frames on cabinets.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
I use mine all the time for glue up panel alignment. It is much more economical than the domino. The domino I have I use for more structural applications.I would also add mine is a very cheap Ryobi that Ive had for 25 years now. You dont need fancy when it comes to biscuits IMO.
 
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Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
I have had three of them. (1) the original Porter Cable, (2) the venerable Dewalt and (3) the later Porter Cable 557. None of them failed, but each one was an appreciable upgrade after selling its predecessor. Unless you are going to pop ridiculous money for a top-of-the-line Lamello (the originator), the PC 557 is the clear winner. In my view, you'd need have Festool money or need to use one everyday to justify a Lamello.
I use one most often for case construction, especially when using sheet goods. They are useful also to effectively assist with component alignment in glue-ups and select jigs. Are they essential? No. Am I glad I have one? Yes. Am I more satisfied with one that works more accurately, e.g. the PC 557? Absolutely. Does biscuit quality vary? Absolutely. I go out of my way to use Lamello biscuits! Does a biscuit joiner compare to a Domino? No! That's an apples and oranges thing. Carry on.
 

peteb301

Pete
Corporate Member
Have used a porter cable biscuit maker 557 for many years on all types of furniture - Cabinets , face frames, tables, etc. Have never had a joint failure.
Why I like them - goof proof (can be recut easily if in wrong position), neater finish (no pocket hole voids, no metal showing or needed). biscuits are cheaper.
Domino ? I'm waiting till I win one at the NCWW picnic .
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
I use one most often for case construction, especially when using sheet goods.
Excellent post.
I don't think I've used other methods for sheet goods in years.
Actually I use an Elu and use it to cut a continuous spline. I make my own "biscuits" or splines from 1/4" Doug fir plywood. Its also great for edge banding moulding.

Since everybody likes pictures:
Note the slots in the edges of the plywood.

1 ELU - 1.jpg


1 ELU - 2.jpg


1 ELU - 3.jpg


1 ELU - 4.jpg


1 ELU - 5.jpg


1 ELU - 6.jpg


1 ELU - 7.jpg


1 ELU - 8.jpg
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Splines are definitely stronger than biscuits. I have a domino, a recent purchase, and an old Skil biscuit joiner. I still use it for panel alignment. I do not buy domino tenons, I make them (at least so far) but I buy biscuits. They are comparitively cheap.

I used biscuits for the apron to leg joint of a table once. That joint failed. I do not use them for structural joints although the leg to apron joint is a particularly high stress situation. I wouldn't use them in a chair either. But if they fit in your face frame design, I think that is a good application. I am more likely to use a pocket screw or two or possibly a domino tenon.
 

pcooper

Phillip Cooper
Corporate Member
I use one occasionally, much like others already pictured, but mostly for things like chess boards where the assembly isn't perfectly flat when I'm trying to glue it up the final time. For me it helps to align parts that are slightly off from the next part but will easily 'move' to the right spot. I don't really do it for structure or added glue area so much, but can see the benefit there. I agree with others that splines are stronger, but I don't need strength, just alignment, so quick and easy does it for me.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
..-thead drift---
Several years back a young friend got his hand nipped by the bench biscuit jointer shown below (example, not the actual one). He had to go to the ER. They asked him what did it. He assumed everyone knew what a biscuit jointer was. He quickly realized that was a flawed assumption. His narrative of the conversation with the ER staff had us all in stitches (pun intended).


1 biscuit - 1.jpg
 

Melinapex

Mark
User
Just used mine to cut slots for some z-clips to attach a small tabletop. Occasionally I have a task that calls for biscuits and it's always good to have options.
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
I use mine for any type of larger panel glue ups. I've used biscuit joinery for 25 years.

Red
 

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
Follow-up question: Why do folks think they are not good for structural work?

Rwe2156 and JimD made variations of that comment. Interested to hear the mode of failure of the apron to leg joint that failed for JimD.

My $0.02 - like every joint, biscuits have a structural limit, but if sized, cut and glued properly they are pretty dang strong.

-Mark
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
Follow-up question: Why do folks think they are not good for structural work?

Rwe2156 and JimD made variations of that comment. Interested to hear the mode of failure of the apron to leg joint that failed for JimD.

My $0.02 - like every joint, biscuits have a structural limit, but if sized, cut and glued properly they are pretty dang strong.

-Mark
Yep, I agree, I have tried many applications with reasonable success. However I have had issues with the biscuits swelling and becoming a problem fitting the joints. Are they stronger than a tenon or a domino, no, but they have their place in woodworking, and that leads me back to the post of me wanting to sell a biscuit joiner, and me asking for the order. Let’s talk about that and how it’s priced right and maybe someone has a need for it. How about you Jeff, do you need a biscuit joiner?
 
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red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
I've never had a biscuit joint fail. I like this form of joinery.

Red
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
I had forgotten about the Elu biscuit joiner. I now recall it as being likened to a Lamello in quality.

Like many of us, I’ve read articles that stress test various forms of joinery. When severely tortured, biscuits typically don’t score as well as properly-crafted mortise and tenon or Domino joints. In the real world, however, when used in applications governed by a reasonable dose of common sense, a biscuit’s holding power is pretty impressive. Just try to extract one after its been in a glued slot for just a few minutes.
 

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