Cheap biscuit jointer vs biscuit cutter for router

As per a recent thread, there are lots of negative comments about cheaper biscuit jointers and the so-called good ones are too expensive for occasional use. But I just noticed there are biscuit-cutter bits for routers so wonder how they compare with the lower end of the biscuit cutter range.
As an example of a cutter for a router there is this at ?7.49
http://www.screwfix.com/p/biscuit-jointing-kit-shank-4mm/91402
Are such cutter bits OK, at least where the cuts which have to be made are parallel to a surface?
Such bits all seem to be too small to cut out the crescent shape of a biscuit slot. How are they used in order to get the slot the right shape? Is there some sort of template? If not enough wood is removed the biscuit won't fit. If too much material is taken away the joint would be weakened. Surely it's not supposed to be done by hand.
A low-price biscuit jointer at ?33.50 is
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Would it be fair to say that the lower-priced ones may have various issues but are all of similar quality, all having usability issues that the owner can work around? There are some at around ?65 but I wonder if they would be much different from the Silverline one (especially as it has been reduced).
James
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There's nothing you can't do much cheaper using dowels that a biscuit jointer does. And quicker. With tools most people have to hand Waste of space.
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On 04/09/2014 08:46, harryagain wrote:

Except that biscuit jointers allow for a bit of lateral imprecision whereas holes for dowels need to be exactly at 90 degrees to the surface being joined and they need to be accurately placed along its length. Not so easy without a proper jig.
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On 04/09/2014 08:46, harryagain wrote:

As usual harry demonstrates his lack of knowledge on woodwork, however lets clear up some of the misinformation.

Firstly, dowels are not a replacement for biscuit joints - each have pros and cons, but they have different applications.
The main difference is that dowels require precise alignment in two axis, while biscuits allow a little latitude in one which makes assembly and glue up far easier in many cases.
While its possible to do a dowel joint with nothing more than a brad point bit and careful layout (or a spiked marking dowel), they are generally best done with a proper jig if you need to do any number. The commercial jigs are relatively expensive for a decent one. They are relatively slow to cut, but produce a fairly strong joint that resists loads in most directions (so long as you use at least a pair of them per joint).
Biscuits produce a joint that is stronger in shear than dowels, but generally weaker in other directions.

No, very very much slower and that is the key difference.
For applications like fixing the alignment of edge joints, you can sink five pairs of biscuit slots in about 40 secs the lot with the dedicated machine.

Harry's new sig?
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John.
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On 04/09/2014 08:46, harryagain wrote:

Personally I would go for the cheap biscuit jointer
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On 04/09/2014 08:32, James Harris wrote:

I had a decent Trend made one of those, and flogged it on ebay after getting the dedicated machine...
While it worked, I found there were a number of operational problems with it that made it less than ideal

Yup that is the first problem - you need to plunge it in, then slide the work/router to the side to make a wide enough slot.

Its about the only way you can do it. Even when the right width the radius of the ends will not match the biscuit that well IME. You cna mark the edges of the travel required on the work, but its more time and effort.
Other limitations - they are much easier (and safer) to use in a table than handheld. Used handheld they are a liability (to you and the work) since they need to be plunged and locked into position *below* the base of the router. You then need to position the router on the edge of its base plate such that you can then plunge the cutter sideways - if you try to move the router into position in the normal way then you will damage the work with the cutter. On several occasions I ended up tacking a chunk out of the edge of my work getting the cutter into an out of position. You also have the risk of an unguarded cutter hanging out the router that you may not be able to withdraw back into the machine.

Showing up at £45 here...

Only way to tell really is to buy it and see. My own experience with the cheap SF "Ferm" one was there were certainly manufacturing quality issues - I had to return my first one. The second was better but not perfect, but it was good enough you can make allowances for its shortcomings in setup.
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...

Here too. The price changed shortly after my post. As you can imagine, that was somewhat annoying...!
Notably, the Tesco price also changed in exactly the same way, i.e. from ?33.50 to ?45, at the same time. It may be a coincidence but perhaps not. Possibly they both reacted to some external info such as a notification of stock levels from Silverline.
James
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