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

  1. #31
    I have always wondered where the assumption developed that the primary use of biscuits is for alignment. I don't know how many times I've read the comment that "biscuits are for alignment but add no strength".

    Lamello invented biscuit joinery. If you go to their website and look at any of the demonstration videos, you will see them demonstrate lots of corner joint applications, T joints, face frame attachment, reinforced miters.
    What you will never see them demonstrate is biscuits in a long grain edge glue up.
    Not that you can't use them this way, but it's just not an application where they are particularly special.

    Sometimes it's easier to take the tool to the work, especially if the workpiece is large. Here's a good way to use a biscuit joiner to insert a spline in a mitered picture frame:

    biscuitspline.jpg

  2. #32
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    I have the Dewalt and while I don't use it a lot, it's there when I need it and it does what I expect.
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  3. #33
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    Edwin, I don't disagree with you. Biscuits do contribute some strength to certain kinds of joinery (when properly used like any method) and don't inherently have major effect on others, like the long grain edges of a panel glue up. For that latter, I still like them or similar (Domino) for keeping one face in alignment as it cuts down on other work necessary to finish those panels out, be it a table top or a cabinet door panel. They are not "needed" for sure. It's just a helpful preference. I've found them helpful for vertical registration of face frames, too.
    --

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

  4. #34
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    As Charles suggested, I had made a wooden screw on fence to hold and align the joiner when used in the upright position on the face frames. No problem at all with the cabinet sides which were face down flat on the bench, as was the joiner.

    Yesterday I put a straight edge along the face of the joiner, and it is not flat with the base where the anti slip tape is installed. This is why it rocks when using it upright. I find no way to adjust it. When using it upright, I used a piece of cutoff FF material to give it more wood to sit on, but I found that a slightly thicker piece kept it from rocking.

    I was afraid that the slightly thicker piece, even though it didn't rock, might make the joiner sit at a slight angle, so I decided to use the correct thickness piece. Obviously that was a bad decision. Hindsight decisions are a b****.

    I hope this better explains the problem I had with the sloppy cuts in the face frame. I had never previously used it upright before, only using it for edge joining.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  5. #35
    some photos would be nice of what you are doing never added a thing to a lamello to make it work better took the spring loaded pins off and covered the face with stick on auto body paper. It stays put much better than how it came. Edge to edge is not needed and its also not as accurate as you hand lining up your boards. Typical on edge to edge joining you will find bang on up to .005 off on the high side of boards not being perfectly flush.

  6. #36
    The reason that biscuits add little strength is their size and shape. A #20 penetrates a maximum of 1/2 inch into both pieces and that is the peak. So it is a small glue joint. The biscuit is also only about 1/8 thick. So it is not a very strong piece of wood. Lastly it is used across the grain. So the long direction of the biscuit is along the grain and the biscuit will split under not a lot of load.

    They have their place but not in a joint that sees significant load.

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    The reason that biscuits add little strength is their size and shape. A #20 penetrates a maximum of 1/2 inch into both pieces and that is the peak. So it is a small glue joint. The biscuit is also only about 1/8 thick. So it is not a very strong piece of wood. Lastly it is used across the grain. So the long direction of the biscuit is along the grain and the biscuit will split under not a lot of load.

    They have their place but not in a joint that sees significant load.
    Biscuits actually have diagonal grain for this reason. A #20 biscuit has about as much glue surface as a 6x40mm domino. Granted they don't penetrate as deep, but they can supply sufficient strength in many situations.

    Here's a shop cart with 1 1/2" plywood decks and upright joined with a double rows of #20 biscuits. I can easily put 100 bd ft of hardwood on it without any fear of failure.DSC_0731[1].jpg

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    The reason that biscuits add little strength is their size and shape. A #20 penetrates a maximum of 1/2 inch into both pieces and that is the peak. So it is a small glue joint. The biscuit is also only about 1/8 thick. So it is not a very strong piece of wood. Lastly it is used across the grain. So the long direction of the biscuit is along the grain and the biscuit will split under not a lot of load.

    They have their place but not in a joint that sees significant load.
    All simply untrue. The grain on the biscuit is at an angle, so is not prone to splitting. And, though thin, biscuits add a lot of strength because of their large surface area.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  9. #39
    The only time I've seen a biscuit joint fail was one that was glue starved. Because the biscuit itself sucks up glue, you have to use a liberal amount IMO. I have had to knock apart something that was held together with biscuits once and it was amazing how tenaciously they held.

    I'm not saying they're "better" than other types of joinery.
    A mortise and tenon or dowel joint is empirically stronger, but I am saying biscuit joints are stronger than many people think. And in certain situations they are good to have in your arsenal.

  10. #40
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    Rick it appears you found what was causing the issue. At one point I was having some issues with mine causing a height alignment issue. I can't recall the specific thing I found (it has been many years) but luckily with mine it was correctable by design of the tool and it gives excellent results. Hopefully, you can get yours flat.

    Mention of a biscuit joint seems to beg the joint strength discussion. I'm pleasantly surprised to see both the number of people that support using the biscuit jointer as well as those who also see that it can provide good strength when applied properly.

    I used mine to make a projector screen frame many years back. It had end grain to long grain connections in 2x4 pine material (planed and jointed). I used 2 biscuits for the connections. It certainly made since to use the biscuit jointer for this application as it only held the screen material pulled tight and stapled on the back. It didn't need a great deal of strength. However, when I retired my projector for a LCD big screen I took the screen apart. Knowing it had biscuit joints I thought I'd easily knock it apart. I'm not a small guy and am in pretty good shape. I ended up with my 5# hammer to break it apart and several of the end grain to long grain joints broke the wood away from the joint (also a plug for the popular glue study of late). That's the only unscientific study I've done but it was good enough to convince me that biscuits can be used in a lot of situations for strong joints. I certainly wouldn't use it for high joint stress applications but they are "strong".
    Last edited by Eric Arnsdorff; 09-16-2021 at 10:26 PM.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    The reason that biscuits add little strength is their size and shape. A #20 penetrates a maximum of 1/2 inch into both pieces and that is the peak. So it is a small glue joint. The biscuit is also only about 1/8 thick. So it is not a very strong piece of wood. Lastly it is used across the grain. So the long direction of the biscuit is along the grain and the biscuit will split under not a lot of load.

    They have their place but not in a joint that sees significant load.
    Biscuits do not have the strength of a big M&T joint, but make no mistake, with proper usage they make a very strong joint. I've tried breaking apart case goods that were biscuit joined & doing so completely destroys the plywood on both side of the joint. I wouldn't use them to join a 2" x 6" stretcher to legs, but neither would I use tiny M&T's and expect them to hold.

  12. #42
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    At least some of the biscuits I have used had diagonal grain, which would seem to address the issue of splitting. I thought they were all made that way, but of course I have not tried all the biscuits in the world.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Pratt View Post
    Biscuits do not have the strength of a big M&T joint, but make no mistake, with proper usage they make a very strong joint. I've tried breaking apart case goods that were biscuit joined & doing so completely destroys the plywood on both side of the joint. I wouldn't use them to join a 2" x 6" stretcher to legs, but neither would I use tiny M&T's and expect them to hold.
    Agreed. Biscuits were originally intended to join sheet goods quickly and cheaply. From Lamello's web site:

    Since the dawn of the company – in those days a cabinetmaker's shop – the search for radically new ideas, continuous improvements and system solutions has stood at its core, as has Hermann Steiner with his revolutionary idea that marked the start of the company as we know it:

    “It was on a cold and rainy day in December 1955, shortly before Christmas. We had to deliver numerous small joinery goods, which we had prepared for Christmas meeting the requirements of our customers in our joiner’s workshop. Fonci, the truck driver in Liestal, was responsible for the transport. Storm, snow and rain did not make things easier. We needed all our strength and accuracy to prevent water damaging these Christmas presents. Back home, my ears started to hurt.

    Obviously, I had caught a cold again. My wife gave me some painkillers and I went to bed with the comforting thought that this hurry was over now. But when I woke at midnight, it was like a dream. My thoughts had strayed from my pain to another important problem, which I had considered a couple of times before. Like other cabinet makers we had started using particle board and were encountering difficulties in joining the panels. Down with fever, I suddenly saw a practical approach to the problem, which made me forget everything else. I saw how we could use a groove cutter to cut short opposing grooves into the panels and connect them using small biscuit elements. In contrast to continuous grooves, this procedure would not weaken the board. My wife thought I had visions due to the fever but I myself was entirely convinced of my idea.”

    In an unprecedented fashion, Hermann Steiner's innovative idea reached many joiners around the world and the name Lamello has since become synonymous with this high-quality joining solution. In 2004, the invention was honoured along with other innovations as part of a special exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) entitled "the most humble innovations of the 20th century".
    https://www.lamello.com/about-us/history/

    Note that the original use was for particle board cabinetry, not as a replacement for mortise & tenon joinery.

  14. #44
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    On the DeWalt, and maybe some other biscuit joiners, there are two multi pointed screw heads in the face at either end of the slot that the blade comes through. These are spring loaded to extend out beyond the face of the tool and help to keep the joiner from moving as the cuts are made. They cut into the wood surface a tiny bit and I haven't so far found this to be objectionable, but they can be turned about 90 degrees to be locked in the retracted position if their use is not wanted. I have always left mine extended and they do help to hold the joiner on position during the plunge cut, but after reading all of this I've been wondering if some of you even know about these? Do you have them on your biscuit joiner? Do you use them? Careful positioning and holding that position as the plunge is made is very important to getting good results with a biscuit joiner.

    Charley

  15. #45
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    Hi Charley,

    Mine does not have that feature. Wish it did, but not a game changer, it's the rocking when upright that causes my problem. It was the best one available when I got it, in the Norm era. Didn't consider the Lamello, as it was too expensive to even wish for.

    My first one was a cheap Ryobi, and the PC was a giant step up.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

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