Biscut jointer Q's

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A while back I bought a PC biscuit jointer and have just gotten an excuse to use it. I broke it out today, planning to add an Ash edge some plywood for a cabinet I'm making and have run into some questions:
1. The biscuits seem pretty loose in the slot. I can move the boards laterally a 64th or so. Is this normal? I thought they'd be more like dowels and be quite tight. I know the idea is that they expand when glued but the slop isn't giving me much confidence. My plywood is somewhat warped so there is no way the biscuits are going to hold the two pieces laterally. It seems I'm going to have to make some cauls this weekend.
2. Is the PC jointer supposed to sound like a coffee grinder? I would have expected the sound from HF, but not a "high end" jointer like the PC. I can't feel any slop in the bearings so I don't think this accounts for any slop, but thought I'd ask. Thanks.
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yes this is normal...and yes the machine makes a weird noisei
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On Thu, 23 Jul 2009 18:23:14 -0700 (PDT), mike from American Sycamore

Thanks again. I guess my expectations were a bit high. Oh, well, it's certainly an easy tool to use, if not precisely what I expected.
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Yes. I have a can of biscuits that is several months old. Some if the biscuits will be tight and some loose. There will some variability in moisture content from biscuit to biscuit. (this is what I have found).
After you add glue they will swell significantly.

YES! Use wax paper so the cauls don't stick.

Don't know this one, I own a DeWalt.
I would

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The biscuits move pretty freely along their length. Across their width, they're usually snug but not tight -- they slip in and out of the slot easily and yeah, they might rattle around by a 64th, I guess. But that all changes once you apply the glue. They swell up and after a few seconds you'd have a hard time pulling them out if you wanted to. (Experiment on a piece of scrap wood -- you'll see what I mean.)
Yeah, the PC is noisy and a bit rough sounding and now that you mention it, a lot like my coffee grinder. Not to worry.
(And if you want a really interesting sound, remove the dust-collection canister and hook up a shop vac hose to catch the chips. It sounds like a fire siren!)
Reply-to address is real John
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Perfectly normal on both counts. The biscuits will be plenty tight once you put a little glue on them -- as long as it's water-based glue. Using a urethane glue (e.g. Gorilla Glue) kind of defeats the purpose... the biscuits are compressed at the factory, and designed to swell when they get wet.
Warning: wait *at least* overnight before sanding, planing, or scraping any boards that were biscuit-joined. The biscuits swell, the wood above them swells, and if you sand/plane/scrape too soon, when the wood dries, you'll have biscuit-shaped depressions in the surface.
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Doug Miller wrote:

What happens when the water evaporates?

I dunno, the more I read about these things, the less I see a use for them? Someone in this thread said to use cauls, along with the biscuits? I don't need biscuits if I use cauls, and I don't need them for strength on long grain joints. Mortise and tenon joints are used on edge grain to long grain joints. On face frames like on kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanity, I usually run a dado in the face frame and a lip on the cabinet side, so I guess I could use biscuits there? Could it be these things are over rated, or a tool in search of a use?
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the biscuits

They were mechanically compressed. When they get wet, they expand to the point they used to be in. They will stay that way.

Highly. I rarely find a use for mine.
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"CW" wrote:

You would truly appreciate an episode of AmericamWoodShop where are boy Scott used biscuits rather than basic joinery to build a computer table.
Along with cutting pieces on the T/S with the blade inclined toward the fence and a few more choice moves, but well you get the idea.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

I just watched him build a corner cabinet, and all the shelves were screwed in with pocket screws. In fact, he put the entire cabinet together with pocket screws I think. I have nothing against pocket screws, or plate joinery, but really, there is always a time and a place. Scott does a lot of things *I* consider bad form. The other day he was cutting tapers on a leg using the band saw... This is something normally done on the table saw... Stuff like this make the show worth watching.
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snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzz says...

I'm astonished at some of the replies. I use a Makita bisquit jointer with Lamello bisquits and there is NO slop, period. It requires firm pressure to insert 95% of the bisquits into the slot (I get the odd one that slides in easily) and I sometimes have to use pliers to remove them after a trial fit-up. Once coated with pva, I have to use a very small wooden mallet to centre bisquits if I haven't gotten them into the right place with my thumb, they're that tight.
Hard to say if your bisquits are crap, or if the PC is sloppy/wobbly or if the blade is no good. My jointer sounds like a router, not like a coffee grinder ...
Just for reference: I keep the lamello bisquits in a plastic bucket with the lid merely laid snugly on top, rather than pressed down (it's so tight, it's a pain to try and open if I seal it) and in my extremely humid climate I haven't had noticable problems with the bisquits swelling through sucking moisture from the air. The box-full of bisquits I am still using a.t.m. is about 5 years old.
-P.
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On Fri, 24 Jul 2009 14:17:27 +1200, Peter Huebner

Haven't tried the glue yet. It was apparent I was going to need to do more alignment, so stopped.

I just recently bought both PC (#10) and Bosch (#20) biscuits. All are sloppy in the slots (I just cut for #20, but it's the same blade). I'm sorta limited in what I can buy around here so I'll try some Lamello next time I order toys.
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says...

I have a PC joiner and use (mostly) Bosch biscuits. (because they're the most available here). The biscuits fit snug but not so tight that they can't be removed before gluing. There is plenty of room for lateral adjustment; I think that was an intentional design.
Max
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wrote:

"Latteral" was a poor choice of words on my part. I meant that the edge alignment is off by as much as 1/64" either way. That is, the biscuit rattles from top to bottom (board laying flat) in the slot about 1/64". Side to side the slop is at least 1/8", maybe 1/4".
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says...

There must be something wrong with the blade or the arbor (shaft). The blade on mine cuts a slot just the right "thickness" to fit the thickness of the biscuit. Do you have a caliper (or even better a micrometer) Measure the thickness of the teeth on the blade. With the joiner setting on a smooth, flat surface, measure the distance between the blade and the surface. Rotate the blade (with the cord unplugged, heh, heh) and measure again. If there's a difference, it's the arbor, (shaft). The joiner has to be tight against the work and held tight so there's no chance for it to move up. Plunge *once* and back out. If you leave the blade in the slot more than a couple seconds it will make the slot larger. My son has the same PC joiner that I have and he has no problems either.
Max
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Max wrote:

Not all biscuits are created equal. They're supposed to be 5/32" thick. Quite a few brands aren't. Check the biscuit thickness first.
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wrote:

The biscuits are a bit undersized; .150-.156. The carbide tangs on cutter blade are a bit over at the tips; .162. I guess the difference comes close to the 1/64" I estimated the slop to be.

That's easier to describe than to do. ;-)

I practiced a bit with it this afternoon (got too hot in the garage) but I think I was doing it right. The fence isn't going anywhere when I plunge the cutter and the slop is still there. I'm in the process of gluing up some cauls so haven't gone any further with the panels. I'll try glue on the biscuits when I have the cauls to do the alignment.
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Try it on scrap first. You will find that, with the glue on the biscuts, they will swell and lock in place. If the alignment is good, great. If it is not, the cauls won't help.
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krw wrote:

I think this would be fine by me. I don't recall every joining two boards that needed no sanding. 1/128th on each side would make me happy.
Side to side the slop is at least 1/8", maybe 1/4".
I don't believe this matters. I saw our buddy Norm build an exterior door and he used floating tenons and there was 1/4" at least on each side. He said it didn't matter as far as strength was concerned. I believe him.
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I don't. In a good mortise and tenon joint, the wood bears all the load with the glue just holding it together. With a sloppy fitting tenon, the glue takes the strain. I was rather surprised that he did that.
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