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Thread: I forgot how much I hate my biscuit joiner.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Upland CA

    I forgot how much I hate my biscuit joiner.

    Used my PC biscuit joiner last night to align the already made face frame with the carcass of a kitchenette cabinet. It made me re-evaluate my relationship with Norm, who sold me on them.

    It was ok when doing the inside panels, laying face down on the bench with the joiner solidly on it's base, but doing the slots inside the FF, with the joiner standing upright, I simply could not keep it from rocking, and creeping. I put a scrap under the part of the base that was unsupported, and a screw on fence but it still rocked.

    Never used the fence, and it was folded up and tightened but I think the rocking was because the folded fence didn't line up exactly with the base like it should.

    It also creeped, despite my making sure the sandpaper anti creep was in good shape, so I used a wooden stop to keep it from creeping to the left. It helped, but I am not happy at all.

    I was going to use T&G to align the sides for adding drawer slides, but forgot and glued up the FF (previous post on shortening screwed up FF) after taking a trip where I seem to have left all the plans in my head. So I decided I would just line them up with biscuits. Phhhhhht.

    Last time I used it was ten years ago. Next time NEVER.
    Anybody wanna buy a biscuit joiner?
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  2. #2
    indispensable tool. On my second lamello even though the first was fine. No interest in knock off companies. Paid for itself 10 times over, over many years. Worked for a guy in 82 or 83, maybe the first guy in Canada to have one not sure, had never seen one before him.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Once again buying cheap doesn't work
    Learned on a Lamello in the 80's on the job, have owned a PC and sold it, own a DeWalt and Ryobi
    Should have bought a Lamello and been done with it. Keep refusing to spend the money and keep on being disappointed.

  4. #4
    I also like to honour the people that came up with it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I've never been overly fond of mine, but there are times when it's the best tool for the job at hand. (I have an old Freud 102)

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Sorry you had a frustrating time.
    But add me to the club of people who consider their biscuit joiner an indispensable tool. Mine is a Lamello, but I upgraded from the PC 557 which was very good also.
    One thing that took my biscuit joinery to a new level was an idea from a FWW article to build a bench on bench jig where you can bolt down the biscuit joiner and basically turn it into a stationary tool when it is advantageous to do so. I use mine all the time, and the accuracy is superb because now there is no more movement in the tool itself. I can find the article and link it if you're interested.

    Also, I only use Lamello biscuits because the quality control is much better and they always fit snugly. Adequate glue is important also because the biscuits themselves suck up glue and can leave the joint starved.
    For some reason the biscuit joiner is the tool so many North American woodworkers love to hate.
    Anyway, hope this is useful info to someone.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Kansas City
    I hated mine until I got a Lamello. Use it a lot, now. I started following Darrel Peart on Instagram and saw how much he uses one, so I thought I should reconsider and am glad I did. Now if only I was 1/3 as talented as he.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    It also creeped, despite my making sure the sandpaper anti creep was in good shape, so I used a wooden stop to keep it from creeping to the left. It helped, but I am not happy at all.
    Rick, the question must be asked, “why did it creep?”. If the biscuit jointer did not creep, would that make it better?

    In my experience, creep is caused by the rotation of the cutter when the machine is pressed against the work piece and then started. I never get creep if I start the machine (mine is a DeWalt), and then - gently - press it against the work piece. If the cutter is up to full speed, it just cuts into the wood at this point.

    Regards from Perth

    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 09-12-2021 at 8:05 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Camas, Wa
    I have a Porter Cable 557 and a Ryobi mini. Love them both. Use them a lot.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Northern California
    Also in the Lamello camp. Have had it for over 20 years and still going strong. And I always use Lamello biscuits. It always pays to buy the best quality you can afford.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Orwell, NY
    I have a PC, don't recall the number. I had a Skil before that, it was OK but the PC is much better. I bought them both used, at different auctions. I don't use mine all the time, but now and then when I am doing a glue-up for a table or a face frame I am very glad I have it. I've only ever used mine on wood that was sitting flat on a work table, so I don't know how hard it would be to use in other situations.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Peoria, IL
    I'm a Elu guy myself. Made tens of thousands of dollars using it when I was in business. Wore one out, bought a second and kept going. When I heard about the pivoting Elu being discontinued, I bought a 3rd. It's unused and still in the steel box. Going to be an unusual item on my estate sale some day. 40+ new old stock, I hope. LOL

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Blog Entries
    I'm a fan of the biscuit joiner as well. I have a 20-25 year old Craftsman Pro unit and it is solid. The comment about the starting torque causing it to jump is something I had to learn but when held firmly I have no issues with it.
    I don't know anything about the PC unit so I can't speak to how it compares.
    I'm on the verge of buying a Festool Domino so I'll see if it replaces my biscuit joiner.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Selzer View Post
    Once again buying cheap doesn't work...
    This. Cheap doesn't payoff in the end. Love my Lamello Top 10.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  15. #15
    I use a biscuit joiner for cabinetwork all the time without the problems you are having. The Porter Cable will do an acceptable job if used correctly.

    I use the fence whenever possible, normally set to a 3/4" gauge block so the dimension from fence to cutter is consistent, and use shims for offsets. When joining face frames to carcasses, I grip the frame in the bench vise so that I can plunge in with the joiner horizontal, carefully registering the fence and front of the machine square to the stock and plunging at a moderate pace with a sharp cutter. The decks are typically 1/32" offset from the inside of the frame so I use a shim under the fence. Any other offsets are handled with an appropriate shim.

    Referencing off the base is used mainly for interior partitions, where the leg of the t is clamped at its location and slots cut in its end and the face of the mating piece. Working off the base for the task you were doing is harder because both the jointer and the workpiece have to be held firmly against a reference surface.

    Like others, I use Lamello biscuits for consistency. I have a Virutex jointer that has served well, but if it gives out before I do it will be replaced with a Lamello Zeta.

    I have a Domino 500 and it is a great machine but it has not replaced my biscuit joiner.

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