Biscuit jointer

I want to buy a biscuit jointer to use in various woodworking projects. I never used one before. What features shore considered "must have" and which ones are "nice to have"? Finally, which manufacturer and model would be recommended?
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"Alexander Galkin" wrote in message

which
The Porter Cable 557, type 3 works very well for me. The fence is subject to criticism hereabouts on occasion due to supposed "sloppiness", but this has never been the least problem for me. I primarily use the tool for aligning flat panel glue-ups, and in places where I used to use splines, before finally succumbing to the biscuit joinery revolution.
The biggest selling point in favor of the PC 557 for my use was the extra FF (face frame) blade included with the unit. With this smaller blade, and FF size biscuits, you can easily reinforce miter joints in some fairly thin/narrow stock, and it takes the place of splines in many applications .. a very handy feature.
I managed to break the fence at one point, when the unit, in the its case, fell 6" to the floor from a bottom shelf, but a replacement was easily located, reasonably priced ($12), and took just a few minutes to change out. Other than that incident, its been a robust tool. I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/08/04
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I also bought the PC 557 type 3 and would agree with everything Swingman said. Haven't had any concerns with the fence. It's a pleasure to use.
Ken

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Same for me! Greg
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Add me to the list of the Porter Cable 557. Althought I have a Type 2 model but never ran into any problems in my uses.
Bill

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I have a 557 type 2. It is the only Porter Cable tool I pretty much thoroughly hate. I have a bunch others which I love. - It tends to burn instead of cut - It is incredibly hard to keep dead square to the stock - It seems to wander out of adjustment semi-randomly - It makes an awful rattling racket that is offensive to the ears. Admittedly nothing compared to a thickness planer or router, but pretty awful sound. Not loud, just offensive - Hard to keep tight.
If I hadn't paid so much for the damn thing, I would toss it.
Perhaps it is just the type 2.
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I have a type 2 that does not have any of the problems you have witnessed.
I use my PC 557 a lot and am extremely happy. Unlike my experience with my PC 7529 router and PC VS 333 sander. Both of those items suck.
But I love my 557!
Rob
wrote:

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I have my PC 557 Type 2 for almost 2 years now and never experienced any of the problems you mention. I even purchased the Shim Plate right after I purchased the 557 Type 2 that was offered here. But I never installed it.
Bill
On Sun, 11 Apr 2004 03:11:18 GMT, Paul Kierstead

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Paul,
I think you need to have yours check by PC Service. My Type 2 has none of those problems. The burning instead of cutting alone indicate a serious problem. Regarding keeping square to the stock, the Dewalt is worse because the handle moves as you plunge. The wondering out of adjustment might be related to why it's burning. Possible vibrational issue. The sound issue is a universal motor. They just do that. Hard to keep tight, back to the wondering out of adjustment. I think yours has a serious problem.
Bernie

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Alex wrote:>I want to buy a biscuit jointer to use in various woodworking projects. I

You want a good fence on the thing, and good ergonomics in the on/off switch, fence adj., etc.. Psssst: Alex, when you get to the store(s) to really check them out, refer to it as a biscuit "joiner". Tom Someday, it'll all be over....
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I like my PC 557. The DeWalt is also supposed to be good however I like the handle better on the PC. I allows you to keep pressure on the fence when you push the unit in with the other hand. Compare both units and you'll see what I mean.
Rob

which
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Thanks for the recommendations- I am in the market for one as well. Looking at Amazon, the joiner is listed as a plate joiner (not a biscuit joiner). I didn't know they were the same thing. The Porter Cable 557 got excellent reviews- it sells for $199 with "free" shipping (April 10, 2004):
(Amazon.com product link shortened) il/-/B00004YKUO/qid%3D1081642104/sr%3D1-1">Porter Cable
Another site has one with a promotional free bag of biscuits for $194 but you have to add shipping:
http://store.yahoo.com/toolsplus/p-c557.html
Thanks to everyone (both asker and answers)! -- KB St. Louis, MO

which
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wrote:

You might check eBay - there are several new units for sale and there are several Dewalt machines for less. I bought a Dewalt at a live auction brand new in the box for $100.00 so you never know. Good luck.
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Let me tell you what not to buy.
I didn't own a biscuit cutter, but was intrigued by the concept. I wasn't thrilled about spending $150+ on something I wasn't sure I would use much, but again, I was intrigued by the concept. Crusing around eBay on evening, I saw a no-name biscuit cutter for $16.00. How could I go wrong, as nothing more than trial tool. My prize showed up a few days later, and I discovered part of the fence to be broken. A few e-mails later, and I had another tool on my doorstep, no charge.
Needless to say, this thing is a galactic piece of crap. The lack of quality is laughable. The "fence" is made from the cheapest plastic, and is completely impossible to set / use accurately. To adjust the fence up/down requires partial disassembly of the unit. To return the unit to it's carrying case also requires some disassembly. The on/off switch is very sensitive, with the slightest touch turning the unit on (safety issue when making adjustments). I found that the blade on the replacement tool did not track true, and wobbled enough to create a slot much larger than even my largest biscuit. The blade on the original unit created a proper sized slot, so between the two of them, I assembed one "good" unit. I use it occasionally, and have concluded that I need to same my pennies to buy a proper tool.
Lesson learned. Don't buy a $16.00 biscuit cutter.
O.
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