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,
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?
On Monday, September 1, 2014 10:19:07 AM UTC+1, James Harris wrote:
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
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.
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.
On 01/09/2014 10:19, James Harris wrote:
Some background :
Biscuit jointers are usually just called that. There are some similar
but different systems that have other names, but they are not really
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
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:
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:
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).
On 01/09/2014 12:42, John Rumm wrote:
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
Probably worth practicing on scrap before tackling something larger or
where finish is important.
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
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
On Tuesday, September 2, 2014 11:20:44 AM UTC+1, robgraham wrote:
sing it and perhaps the quality of the work he is doing. I find mine perfec
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
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.
I have added an illustration of the effect of lack of parallelism to the
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
NOTE Email address IS correct but might not be checked for a while.
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.
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.
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
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
Ah, a blue and black one....
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) there comes a point where there is only
limited value in the cheap ones.
 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!
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