Biscuit jointer for DIY use

Any recommendations for a reasonably good DIY biscuit jointer? I wouldn't have asked but, surprisingly, even looking back over the last year I cannot find a uk.d-i-y post with the word "biscuit" in the subject. Maybe there is another name for a biscuit jointer...?
There is a massive difference in price between DIY models - which cost, say ?60 - to more advanced models - which cost, perhaps ?250. For example,
http://www.screwfix.com/p/erbauer-erb372bjc-860w-biscuit-jointer-230-240v/33513 ?60 http://www.axminster.co.uk/makita-pj7000-biscuit-jointer ?280
The latter is far too expensive for the use I would get from the tool but is there anything I should be aware of and look for in a cheaper model that would make one DIY version better than another? The only important setting I can think of is a fence that can be depended on to remain parallel to the cutter blade and, perhaps, dust collection would be a boon.
I have seen material saying that biscuit joints are strong but even with the extra glue surface I wonder what difference a small piece of wood can make. The biscuit slots don't seem to go very far into the timber to make a really strong join. I know that biscuits are supposed to be compressed when manufactured so that they expand in the joint when wetted with glue but, even so, is the main idea of a biscuit join to *align* boards reliably rather than give strength?
James
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On Monday, September 1, 2014 10:19:07 AM UTC+1, James Harris wrote:


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Just make sure the blade is parallel to the base. We rejected two Dewalt bi scuit joiners because of a fault in this area. Gave up on them and bought B osch. Yes they will strengthen a joint and are more flexible in adjustment than a dowel but will generally need clamping. Festool Domino combines the better elements of both dowel and biscuit but b eware, veblen in operation. Lamello biscuit joiners are the creme de la creme and their products are ab solutely top class.
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wrote:

Chiuppies here have a Lamello and a cheopo Ferm. The latter was orignally bought for rougher work, i.e. trimming laminate where the expansion joint was too small. Held up well in rough commerical use -- though they may have put a Lamello blade in. Most of the adjustable features the Lamello has (and the Ferm hasn't) weren't used in day-to-day work: making cabinets and joining boards.
Thomas Prufer
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On 01/09/2014 10:19, James Harris wrote:
Some background :
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Biscuit_Jointer

Biscuit jointers are usually just called that. There are some similar but different systems that have other names, but they are not really comparable.

The job of the jointer is deceptively simple - cut a slot in a bit of wood. The problem comes from the accuracy required... unless the machine is *very* accurate, you immediately lose much of the advantage the system offers.

Getting the slot parallel to the edge is a must, and something sadly that many fail at. Even a tiny error will be magnified very quickly (imagine fixing a nosing to the front of a composite board shelf - the nosing may be several feet long - but must remain aligned with the shelf along its length).
The fence and plunge arrangement must also be spot on with no slop in the mechanism - since again you want consistent and accurate alignment of the edges.
I have the Ferm jointer - and one has to take care setting it up to try to keep it square enough. In the final analysis its not really good enough. Its still usable for some tasks, but not as good as it ought to be.

It depends on what you are expecting. They will not yield the same strength as proper mortice and tenon for example. However they make assembly of cabinets and alignment of edges very much easier. So for tasks like fixing this face frame to the edge of a ply side panel:
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Classic_large_bookcase_and_cupboard
they work well.
They don't have a huge pull out resistance - but still better than the woeful performance of a simple butt joint. They are also not great in torsion. So for example, form a "tee" joint and apply leverage to the free end of the tee, its easy to break the biscuits free.
They are very strong in shear however - so things like adding support for shelves they do well:
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Small_bookcase
Use to support a cross member of an H section for example, you could quite probably stand on the cross member and they will take the load.
The other nice feature is that they accurately align in only one plane at a time - so it allows a bit of wiggle room during assembly along the longitudinal axis. (unlike say a dowel joint which needs to be pinpoint accurate in both axis at once).
--
Cheers,

John.
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On 01/09/2014 12:42, John Rumm wrote:
Seconded;
I only have a cheap one and while it feels slightly cheap, e.g. movements not quite as smooth as I might like, I find it perfectly adequate. I've mainly used it for making box-like structures out of 18 mm ply (after cutting with sawboard). Also works with MDF. Very quick process (obviously you need to glue and clamp while glue sets, but you can assemble quite a complicated structure in one go and then clamp the lot together).
Probably worth practicing on scrap before tackling something larger or where finish is important.
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On 01/09/2014 15:00, newshound wrote:

Aldi do them from time to time. Picked one up in the reduced bin - seems fine to my untrained eye.
--
Cheers, Rob

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On Tuesday, September 2, 2014 3:09:19 AM UTC+1, RJH wrote:


+1 - possibly worth a punt. It does depend on how much the OP foresees usi ng it and perhaps the quality of the work he is doing. I find mine perfectl y adequate.
I've such a machine, and do just wonder a little at some of the comments ab ove about parallelism - am I reading that to mean that the slot cut is accu rately parallel with the top surface of the work? If so I question that as the accuracy of the two joining faces is far more critical - totally square and totally flat along the length; the biscuits are a snug fit in the slot s but there's enough flex there while the glue is wet to give a flat top su rface as long as the joining faces are really true.
The real problem I find with a biscuit jointer, and I think this is my irre gular use rather than the machine, is operating it such that each cut is ac curately spaced from the working surface - now I can't see how that can var y from a cheap machine to an expensive one as that does seem to be operator controlled.
Rob
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On Tuesday, September 2, 2014 11:20:44 AM UTC+1, robgraham wrote:

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sing it and perhaps the quality of the work he is doing. I find mine perfec tly adequate.

above about parallelism - am I reading that to mean that the slot cut is ac curately parallel with the top surface of the work? If so I question that a s the accuracy of the two joining faces is far more critical - totally squa re and totally flat along the length; the biscuits are a snug fit in the sl ots but there's enough flex there while the glue is wet to give a flat top surface as long as the joining faces are really true.

regular use rather than the machine, is operating it such that each cut is accurately spaced from the working surface - now I can't see how that can v ary from a cheap machine to an expensive one as that does seem to be operat or controlled.

The problem with parallism for me was the blade not being parallel with the base and the impossibility of easily fixing this. If it is not parallel th en the angle of the cut to the base on one side of the joint will be the op posite angle on the opposite face. If you could imaging looking through the joint the two slots would make an 'X' shape. Makes it difficult to pull th e joint together.
The other issue that an expensive machine will improve on is vibration and wobble in the blade. Both of which will give a sloppy joint. The biscuit sh ould be a tight fit in the slot.
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On 02/09/2014 11:20, robgraham wrote:

I have added an illustration of the effect of lack of parallelism to the wiki page:
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Biscuit_Jointer#What_should_I_look_for.3F
With small errors you can in effect twist each biscuit in its slot slightly to force the parts together - but that does make glueup more difficult, and also makes it harder to get your top mating surfaces exactly level - which is one of the key advantages of biscuit jointing when it works.

Normally you use the fence to index from the show face of the wood. Say you were edge jointing two planks, you would set the fence to position the slot approx mid thickness of the board. You then offer the boards up, and mark your biscuit positions. Now separate them, and each of the slots in both sides with the fence flat on the top of the board. If the jointer is accurate the fence to slot distance will be spot on for every cut and the final joint should be aligned such that the top surfaces are co-planer.
An alternative is to use a flat work table, and to place the sole plate of the machine on the table such that you index each cut from the table. That saves needing the fence at all, but does mean you need to mess about with spacers if you want an offset from the table of anything other than the thickness of the jointers base plate.
--
Cheers,

John.
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On Tuesday, September 2, 2014 3:09:19 AM UTC+1, RJH wrote:

...

I/we just missed out on a much-reduced biscuit jointer from Screwfix. I saw the ad on their web site this morning: an Erbauer (which I think is Screwfix's own brand) ERB900 for ?15.00! Their product ID was 65190. Unfortunately, it is a stock clearance item and there is no stock in my area or the area where a relative lives or he could have picked one up for me.

Are there different biscuit thicknesses? I believe the standard for no 20 biscuits, say, is 4mm thick but I read one review of a machine which had a 3.5mm blade and the reviewer said that standard biscuits would not fit the slots it made. I have seen other specs where the cutter is 3.8mm. Is that the more-accurate size for a 4mm slot.
As a converse situation, I watched one video where the presenter showed the pre-glued joint was actually loose! That's not sideways/laterally but up and down, i.e. in from face to face. Surely that's not right. Maybe 3.5mm biscuits in a slot made for 4mm biscuits?

Is that with the fence resting on the registration surface? From fence to blade should be a consistent distance.
James
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On Tuesday, September 2, 2014 11:45:56 AM UTC+1, James Harris wrote:
I have a Ferm one that was bought on offer at Screwfix several years ago and, for the limited use it gets, it's been fine.
I think there are only very limited circumstances where selling a kidney to buy a Lamello would be the sensible course of action.
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On 03/09/2014 10:03, mike wrote:

I sent my first one back as it was impossible to get the blade parallel to the fence. The second one I can get it parallel, but you need to lock down one side while holding the fence in position, and then lock the other - so its not as quick or repeatable as it should be.

--
Cheers,

John.
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In article

My first attempt at this type of thing was using a jointer attachment fixed to an angle grinder. - not much spare cash in those days (or now as it happens)
I made myself the computer desk I'm using now, from a spare wardrobe panel I happened to have. Far easier /better results than any previous attempts at using dowelling for making things
John
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John Mulrooney
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Have these jointers got any other uses, other than for the obvious one? Just curious, as I've not got one.
--
*Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On 03/09/2014 12:59, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

You can plunge and slide them to cut a grove or even a through cut if you don't need much depth of cut. You could possibly under trim a door without removing it from its hinges. Most will cut within a 1/4" of the base of the machine.
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Cheers,

John.
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wrote in message

I've seen similar comments. Buying a biscuit jointer seems a bit of a nightmare. The good ones are way too expensive for the use I would get from it. The affordable ones just don't seem to be manufactured very well, either having uncorrectable faults or needing a lot of careful manual adjustment.
One customer comment on this Silverline unit seems excellent where the user explains his adjustments.
http://www.tesco.com/direct/silverline-biscuit-jointer-900w/212-2600.prd
Incidentally, at ?33.50 its the cheapest I have seen to be available and the same price is available from Amazon.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
If I were going to buy one of those I would buy from Amazon. IME if you have to take something back Tesco's so-called "customer services" can be extremely unhelpful whereas Amazon's response to issues has always been excellent.
You can tell that Tesco have little idea about what makes a good tool when, in order to describe it the web site says:
"This 900W biscuit jointer from Silverline is a blue and black biscuit jointer...."
Ah, a blue and black one....
James
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On 04/09/2014 08:07, James Harris wrote:

Such is the problem with budget power tools in general. However for many (sanders, drills etc), some slight sloppiness in manufacture / quality control etc does not render the end result unusable - just less pleasant to use than a "better" one.
However when tools need precision to work properly (e.g. biscuit jointers, routers etc[1]) there comes a point where there is only limited value in the cheap ones.
[1] I would also include jigsaws in there, but most people have such low expectations of what a jigsaw should be able to do, they don't appreciate just how crap most of the budget ones are!

Oh, now they are getting technical ;-)
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John.
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On Thu, 04 Sep 2014 18:35:42 +0100, John Rumm wrote:

It's to mirror the colours of the user after things go badly wrong...
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Peter.
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