Recommendation: Porter Cable or Dewalt biscuit joiner

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After dragging you all through the coals regarding the best biscuits, I am now working backwards to the best biscuit joiner! See the following thread on biscuits:
http://groups.google.com/group/rec.woodworking/browse_frm/thread/214335f61f72a106 /#
As I had mentioned in the thread above, I have already purchased the Dewalt DW682K biscuit joiner but now I question whether I should have bought the Porter Cable 557. I can still return the Dewalt as I have yet to use it. The one feature I really need is face frame biscuits which can be readily accomplished with the PC but not the DW. Also, there seems to be an issue of small wood components (to be joined) falling into the fence of the BJ and that PC has addressed this with an insert; is this true?
I am looking for your opinion(s) on these two tools.
I look forward to your responses.
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I bought the PC 557 and recommend it highly. In this price range, the PC is the better machine. I would return the DW.

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Tom, is your PC a Type I, II or III?
Tom Kendrick wrote:

>http://groups.google.com/group/rec.woodworking/browse_frm/thread/214335f61f72a106 /#
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maico wrote:

It must be a type III since it's fairly new (purchased within the last year). Made after the litigation DW filed against PC for copying their design.
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I have a Lamello Classic...in a box. I now have a PC 557 (FF was one of the reasons). The Lamello Classic is no Top, which was stolen and the best yet....but for the money? I have played with the DeWalt. A loooong time ago, I used an Elu on quite a few projects and liked it. They look similar. I never liked the thin base plate. I borrowed a Freud one time also...so I have been around a few biscuit joiners. That Freud had too much slop in the action. Can't comment on them today.
The feel, the option for FF biscuits and dust collection of the PC 557 are the reasons why I always reach for it. The insert for the fence makes working with small pieces a lot nicer.
I prefer the Lamello biscuits and just love this thing: http://www.csaw.com/lamello/gluebottles.html Had mine for 20+ years now.
r
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On Tue, 07 Nov 2006 19:37:05 -0800, Robatoy wrote:

WOW ... 8 big ones for a Lamello plate joiner? For that I'd expect it to look good in a short skirt and make a mean plate of scrambled eggs, too!
Bill
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"maico" wrote in message

Hands down, PC 557 III ... the FF capability is the deciding factor.
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That would seem to be the deciding factor, then.
I've been using a PC 557 for a number of years now, and have yet to wish that I'd bought something else instead.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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maico wrote:

I recently bought the Dewalt and am extremely pleased with it. But now you have me curious about something... Can you or someone explain what you mean about the PC doing face frame biscuits while the Dewalt cannot?
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Porter-Cable markets a "face frame" (FF) biscuit that's about 5/8" shorter than a standard #0 biscuit, and slightly narrower as well.
The PC 557 has four depth stops (20, 10, 0, and FF), and also comes with an extra blade for cutting FF slots. This blade is about an inch smaller in diameter than the standard biscuit blade. If you don't have that blade *and* the proper depth stop, you won't be able to cut a slot that FF biscuits will fit correctly.
That's not to say you can't use your DeWalt biscuit machine for making face frames -- you can (with limitations) -- just that AFAIK you can't use it to make slots for the Porter-Cable FF biscuits.
AFAIK, the smallest biscuit slot you can make with the DW machine is for a #0 biscuit. The biscuit is about 1-13/16" long, which means a slot about 2" long. Obviously that's not going to work to make biscuit joints in 1-1/2" wide rails and stiles, and may not work for 2" stock. If you don't mind building your face frames with stock that's between 2" and 2-1/4" wide, #0 biscuits will work fine. But if you want to use narrower material, that means some alternate form of joinery. Those alternate forms could include: - dowels - pocket screws - mortise and tenon - lap joints - PC 557 and a pile of FF biscuits :-)
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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To piggyback on this thread, I see that many recommend the PC 557 and most relate the choice to the FF capability. I already have a Ryobi detail biscuit joiner which works well for me for smaller jobs (like face frames, picture frames and thin boxes) but I have a real POS old full size joiner that I would like to replace. Which joiner would you choose if the FF capability had minimal value to you (yeah it would have some value, but I can certainly live without it and even if I had it would probably just pick up the detail joiner rather than fool around changing blades on the PC). Is the PC still the choice (assuming I want to stay out of debt for this purchase and so won't be looking at a Lamello)?
Thanks.
Dave Hall
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Dave Hall wrote:

As I said in my reply to another post in this thread, I recently purchased the Dewalt. Since it is my first biscuit joiner, my opinion might not carry much weight, But I can tell you, from a rookie's standpoint, I can't imagine it being any simpler to use or doing a better job. In other words, I'm a fool and it appears relatively foolproof. (And $100 cheaper than the PC)
Charlie
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"Charlie M. 1958" wrote in message

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the DeWalt. The PC, with it's smaller FF biscuit capability, is just a tad more versatile when/if you need that capability.
The smaller biscuits come in handy for me when to simulate joinery without having to resort to a nail gun on a prototype which just may find some actual use, or when reinforcing miter joints on small frames.
If you don't need that capability, the DeWalt will certainly serve you well, and you can buy some wood with the leftover $$
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Swingman wrote:

Thanks, Doug and Swing for the clarification. Next time I'll google FIRST before firing off the dumb question <blush>.
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Don't beat up on yourself for this one Charlie; the reason I started these two threads is that there is limited current information on the topics (I Googled).
As for the deciding factors, pro PC, there are three that I am aware of (many thanks to you all for your input): the fence insert for cutting smaller pieces that may fall into the fence opening, more depth adjustability and the FF biscuits.
I have read about shimming the fence for the Type II but Type III has no issues. Do you all have a Type II and you shimmed and is someone using the Type III?
Charlie M. 1958 wrote:

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<snip>

I have the Dewalt and it is fine. If I had it to over again I'd probably get the PC, but I solved the face frame biscuit issue another way, which may be better. I bought a biscuit slot cutter set (either Infinity or Whiteside - I buy which ever is an sale at the moment). Drop that in the router table with a larger bearing on top and you have FF size slots for the 2" face frames when you use them on smaller projects. Since the PC requires that you change cutters to do the smaller FF biscuits, I'm not sure there is any difference in set up time. The slot cutter set is about $50 so you're still ahead $50 in the cost differential between Dewalt and PC.
Only real downside to the Dewalt is the little dust bag clogs real easy. I just leave it off and try to aim the waste stream at a backstop to keep it from going all over the shop.
Jerry
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wrote: [snip]

It's not a real big deal, ten minutes at the most.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Crap goes all over the shop anyhow. So I do this in the driveway, so it goes all over the neighborhood instead. You're all welcome for the mulch.
Patriarch
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On Wed, 08 Nov 2006 08:16:59 -0600, "Charlie M. 1958"

I've had the DeWalt for a long time, so I'm sure I'm prejudiced.
Buy the DeWalt and take the money saved and get a Kreg jig for pocket screws for the FF work.
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maico wrote:

In that case, return the Dewalt. I have the PC, it's a great machine. The Dewalt is probably a good machine as well. If you think you might use the face frame biscuits, then it's worth the extra $50 or whatever to get the PC (It's been a long time, so I don't know). Plus, it seems like you will be happier with the PC.
I just saw the PC on sale at Home Depot. I assume it's the same model.
I must say though, I haven't used the face frame biscuits that much. On a few small things. If you are going to make a lot of face frames, get a kreg jig, along with this clamp.. http://www.hartvilletool.com/product/12282 .. Then use a clamp like a Bessey K-body to clamp the the face frame "T" shape (the wood) to the face frame clamp. That lines up the pieces in that dimension (basically the alignment that a biscuit would give you). Sorry if that is not clear, I can explain better if need be.
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