If you have ever used a biscuit joiner correctly, you will find that they speed up the process of many joinery tasks. Some tend to wonder “is it a tool for those that are serious with their woodworking? And if so, when should I use it?”
The answer to this question is going to depend on your priorities and the task at hand. When it comes to speed, it is almost impossible to beat this kind of joinery. Look up biscuit joiners on the internet and you will see that many woodworking pros will tell you that the biscuit joiner is without question one of the most versatile tools out there. Sometimes though, the biscuit joiner isn’t preferred over joinery that is more in the traditional category. So when do you use one and when would it be best not to?
Let’s say you are building a curio cabinet out of red oak. A traditional joint for this project would be to use mortise and tenon joints throughout. If you don’t own a mortising tool, or you don’t have the best of times with handmade mortise joints, they will be adequate. Is the biscuit joint as strong as the mortise and tenon? No. But when properly executed, it is a strong and appropriate joint. In other words, it isn’t as strong as some joints, but it is strong enough for most applications.
Biscuits really shine when it comes to using them to align glue joints. You can use them in constructing face frames instead of a pocket joint. T-joints are very strong when a biscuit joint is used, as well as with many other butt joints. Biscuit joinery is great when you use them to align parts. On the other side of the coin though, if it isn’t done right, it will become an alignment nightmare.
You can use them in putting together very narrow pieces, because there are biscuit joiners that are able to cut a slot that is very thin, thereby you can use a thin biscuit. And these come in handy for frame joinery and similar jobs because the lumber is usually ¾ inches or less.
Some woodworkers use the biscuit joint on almost every joint they make. But again, this isn’t because they are the strongest, it’s because they are strong enough, and are so much faster to make than say, a sliding dovetail or mortise and tenon joint.
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Ted Leger –
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