TableTop Glue-Ups and Plate Joiners

I want to make a replacement tabletop out of oak, with jointed pieces.
Do I really need biscuits for the joints? Is the glue not strong enough? What did furniture makers use before biscuit joiners? I guess I could use splines, but I've never been able to get them perfect.
Thanks for any opinions and experience.
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Glue is strong enough if you can get it all clamped down and glue dried while keeping the boards aligned. Biscuits in the case of a tabletop are primarily valuable for board alignment.
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Perry Aynum wrote:

Biscuits are not necessary in the least for this long grain to long grain gluing task.
They can, however, be helpful in keeping the boards aligned during the assembly and clamping process, but at your discretion.
And while they may add some small bit of measurable strength, it would be negligible compared to the inherent strength in a long grain to long grain glue-up.
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I have been woodworking for 30 or 40 years and biscuits are a relative newcomer to the craft. Folks have been edge gluing with white glue, and previously animal glues, for generations by producing good straight joints and clamping them up. I do own, and use, a biscuit joiner and find it very useful in helping align the edges of a glue up. There are tons of "studies" regarding the strength advantages of biscuits and they do undoubtedly enhance a glue up. But they are more handy than essential.
BTW, Biscuits do not guarantee a flat table top. You still have to pre-fit, fiddle, glue and then fiddle to get it perfect.
Then sand an little.
RonB
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On 5/9/2009 6:03 AM snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com spake thus:

Better yet, plane a little.
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You don't understand my skill-set. Once I get it glued up, I don't want to screw it up. I can control a sander better than surface planing.
Not a complete idiot with a plane but, .... well.................You gotta understand my skill-set. :^)
RonB
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==================================You don't understand my skill-set. Once I get it glued up, I don't want to screw it up. I can control a sander better than surface planing.
Not a complete idiot with a plane but, ....well.................You gotta understand my skill-set. :^) ==============================That's why I use a commercial drum sander.
Lew
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On 5/9/2009 12:30 PM snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com spake thus:

You should try a plane sometime. Really.
One important thing is to have a decent plane, by which I mean one with a *really sharp* iron. Doesn't have to be a $1000 Lie-Nielsen, either. (Another thing is being able to secure the workpiece so it doesn't move around.)
Some woodworkers are overly intimidated by the idea of hand-planing. A little practice is all you need.
It's *such* a better way to remove wood than grinding with abrasives, which is a brute-force method by comparison.
Try it; you'll like it. You probably have more skills in that set than you know.
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Glue / clamps have always worked for me. But then again, I don't have one of them there fancy biscuit thingies.
Gotta plane / sand after the glue sets to even it up.
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Geoff
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Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe wrote:

I've tried it both ways and have found that the biscuits actually are more hindrance than help. They are also just another thing to have to consider if you are going to do any shaping of the top after it is glued up. Taking one's time gluing works just as well and any imperfections can be hand-planed off pretty quickly.

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I've made a lot of table tops, and I avoid biscuits, Dominoes and splines unless I'm really trying to maximize overall thickness from material that's less than straight. And even then I find that judicious use of clamping cauls works just fine. Mill your stock well, lay it across a couple of level boards and clamp it up, alternating the bar clamps top and bottom to help maintain flatness. If you need to you can use a small bar clamp to align the ends of recalcitrant boards, or even use a couple of cauls if things are really awry.
JP
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Oh, I have a couple of planes and do use them but mostly for edge planing. I have done some surface planing but I usually call on my old Ryobi surface planer. Don't get much practice that way.
Maybe lazy.
Ron
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On 5/10/2009 6:49 PM snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com spake thus:

If you can edge-plane, you can certainly surface-plane. Getting a nice straight edge with a plane is much more difficult than touching up a surface. (To me, anyhow.)
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