Biscuit Joiner

If you’ve suddenly discovered a new-found appreciation for carpentry and woodworking, a biscuit joiner might just be the tool you’ll be interested in. Aside from the usual hammers, screws and nails, wood craft has actually evolved to include some highly specialized tools and equipment that makes woodworking easier. If you’re not looking into carpentry as a career option, then knowing a few things about it won’t hurt, especially if you want to become an all-around handyman in your home. Knowing just the basics about tools, processes and learning to use them can save people lots of time and money. To start off, here are some of the frequently asked questions (and corresponding answers) about biscuit joiners.

Biscuit JoinerWhat are biscuit joiners?

Biscuit or plate joiners are woodworking tools used to connect two pieces of wood panels. The general idea is two slots are cut into the edges of the panels facing each other using the biscuit joiner. A biscuit, which is a thin piece of compressed wood shavings, is liberally soaked in wood glue and inserted into the slots to join the panels. In the process, the biscuit expands and creates a very strong bond between the pieces of wood. Biscuits come in a variety of standard sizes to match the depth and width of blade of biscuit joiners. Learn how to use a biscuit joiner.

Where did biscuit joiners originate?

Hermann Steiner, a Swiss carpenter, invented the biscuit joining process during the 1950s. It was by pure happenstance, while looking for a way to join chipboard, that he thought of the four-step Lamello wood joining system: groove cutting, gluing, joining, and finally clamping. Subsequently, there came further improvements such as the use of the circular saw and the creation of the first stationary biscuit joiner. The portable version followed soon thereafter. Steiner’s legacy continued with the incorporation of the family carpentry business into Lamello AG, which to this day continues the tradition of manufacturing some of the best biscuit joiners in the industry.

What are the uses of biscuit joiners?

The primary purpose of biscuit joinery is to connect and bind panels or sheet goods. It’s not entirely limited to solid wooden panels as it can also be used to connect particle boards and fiberboard. There are also specialty biscuits in the market made of metal connectors or hinges, even removable panels, to fit different carpentry needs.

Some specific uses include aligning sheets or panels, and butt joints. For example, when assembling a tabletop, drawers, even door and window casings. Joiner biscuits can’t be used to replace traditional joinery all the time, especially if the wood is heavy and thick, but can be relied upon if the pieces are lightweight. Biscuits also help with aligning boards during glue-ups.

What are the different brands of biscuit joiners?

Aside from Lamello, there are also other companies that make biscuit joiners. Porter Cable, Makita and Dewalt are just some of them. They even carry models with interchangeable blades. Festool is another manufacturer that makes something similar to a biscuit joiner. They call the tool the Domino. It’s equipped with a rotary blade which then makes a domino-shaped cut. The process used by the Festool Domino creates loose mortise and tenon joints in the wood using wood thicker than a typical biscuit. Check out our biscuit joiner reviews article.

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Biscuit Joiner Accessories

While using a biscuit joiner, you soon realize how versatile they are. You can use them for most woodworking jobs. From miter joints, joining sheet goods, lightweight mortise and tenons to even helping you align pieces during glue ups. Today I want to talk about some of the available accessories for your biscuit joiner.

Self Clamping Biscuits

Self Clamping BiscuitsSelf clamping biscuits clamp the wood during a glue up. They pull the joints together using the curved ridges on the outside of the biscuit. All you need is a biscuit clamp and a hammer, no tools required. Ideal for face frames for doors or furniture, cabinet bases and toe kicks, picture frames and much more. Just cut the groove in both pieces, put some glue around the biscuit slots, and insert the clamps.



Biscuit Joiner Hinges

Biscuit Joiner HingesWhen using a thin-kerf blade in your biscuit joiner you can use biscuit hinges for items like a jewlery box and light weight doors on a small cabinet. Both ends of the hinge slide into biscuit slots, leaving you with a clean look without using screws. The hinges stay in place using a barbed pattern on the wings of the hinges.

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Joiner Biscuits

When you hear the word biscuits you might be thinking cookie variety, but there’s more than one biscuit in the world
and they’re not all edible!

Biscuits in woodworking speak are a little round, flat piece of compressed wood shavings usually made from beech wood. When
used in conjunction with biscuit joiners, they link or connect sheets or panels of wood, fibreboard, particle board and the
like without using nails or screws. Learn how to use a biscuit joiner.

Not all biscuits are alike though. They come in a variety of types and sizes. There are standard biscuits available and there are also proprietary sizes, used specifically for brands such as the Porter-Cable 557 biscuit joiner. Depending on what woodworking project you’re working on at the moment, the biscuit you’ll need may vary. All biscuits are made at a uniform thickness of 5/32 inch. It is the width of the oval that changes.

Joiner BiscuitsStandard Biscuit Sizes

Standard biscuits come in #0, #10 and #20 sizes.

#0,  or the smaller biscuit, is 1 and 3/4 inch long and is 5/8 inch wide. This is the smallest size and is best used for areas that
are relatively free from pressure or stress. They’re perfect when used for smaller wooden pieces and narrow settings such
as doorframes.

#10, or the medium biscuit measures 2 and 1/8 inch long and 3/4 inch wide. These are the go-to biscuit and
the ones which hardware stores will have plenty of. They are the perfect size  for T-joints, butt joints and more.

#20, or the large biscuit, measures 2 and 3/8 inch long and 1 inch wide. These are used for pieces that support weight or areas
susceptible to stress or strain. With a bigger biscuit comes a stronger hold due to the greater exposed to wood glue.

Porter-Cable BiscuitsPorter-Cable Biscuit Sizes

Porter Cable biscuits have four variations: the #FF, #0, #10 and the #20. The first is their smallest version and it is 1
and 13/64 inch long and 1/2 inch wide. #0 is 1 and 21/32 inch long and 5/8 inch wide; #10 has a width of 25/32 inch
and is 2 and 3/64 inch long; and finally, #20 is 2 and 9/32 inch long and 15/16 inch wide.

If you’re unsure of the size when choosing a biscuit for your project, in my opinion, always go for the largest biscuit possible.
Also, remember that wood glue must be applied only when you’re about to insert the biscuit into the slot, as biscuits will
expand after a certain period.

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