I am making a cradle for our first grandchild out of 1/2 inch oak (glued up
panels). I always have alignment problems when edge gluing so I am thinking
about using dry (no glue ) biscuts to help keep things even, anyone else
done this and did it work? Thanks for any and all help. Larry
Wed, Jan 2, 2008, 8:20pm firstname.lastname@example.org (larry) doth query:
I am making a cradle for our first grandchild out of 1/2 inch oak (glued
up panels). I always have alignment problems when edge gluing so I am
thinking about using dry (no glue ) biscuts to help keep things even,
anyone else done this and did it work? Thanks for any and all help.
I'm not a fan of cradles. Use for a few weeks, the kid outgrows
it, then it's a dust catcher, and in the way. Make a rocking chair
instead, and use it for years.
Not a fan of toy boxes with lids, for little kids either.
You can't always judge by appearances, the early bird may have been up
I don't often agree with JOAT, but this time I do. Seventeen years
ago, I built a cradle in anticipation of the arrival of my daughter.
It is a rocking cradle with a hood, based on an old colonial design.
We took some photos of her in the cradle, but in truth, we never used
it much. The cradle was too close to the floor to be practical.
Nobody wants to squat down to their knees with that precious cargo in
their arms. Much easier to just put her in her bed, or in the carrier
thing. She outgrew it very fast too. Then my son arrived at 9 pounds
12 ounces. He filled the cradle up from day one! When I build
another cradle, it will be the swinging type that sits higher off the
Now to your question. Unless the boards are warped and need to be
forced into alignment, I haven't found biscuits to be that much help.
The biscuit has a little bit of slop that allows a little
misalignment. I can do better aligning by gluing just one joint at a
time and paying close attention to alignment. When you only have one
joint to fiddle with, you can get pretty close, even without
biscuits. Instead of biscuits, I've gone back to my doweling jig for
joints that need help in alignment. It's slow, but more accurate. I
like the other suggestions to start with over-thickness boards and
plane or drum sand to final thickness after glue-up, even if it means
taking the panels to another shop. Don't forget to leave room on each
end for planer snipe.
"Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." - Thomas
Thu, Jan 3, 2008, 5:49am (EST-3) email@example.com (DonkeyHody)
I don't often agree with JOAT, but this time I do. <snip>
No prob. I just remembered, there is one type of cradle I approve
of, besides doll cradles that is. That's a rocking chair cradle, half
rocking chair, half cradle. Then when the kid gets too big for the
cradle part you can let the cat sleep in it, to h old knitting,
magazines, et al. I would hav said to keep a cooler of beer, but you
don't want to shake beer up, so keep the cooler on t he floor or a small
You can't always judge by appearances, the early bird may have been up
1/2" is too thin to use biscuits. instead, get the mating surfaces
nice and straight and square, so they fit well with no gaps. prime
both mating surfaces with thinned glue, let it get almost dry, apply
full strength glue and do the glue up. use wide masking tape for the
clamps, a piece about 6" long spanning the joint and pulled tight
about every 4 or 5 inches along the joint on each side of the panel.
keep the alignment with cauls across the face. do your thicknessing
after glue up.
1/2" tough to keep aligned.
Personally, I wouldn't sweat it.
Glue up 5/8"-3/4" panels. If they are not aligned, NBD.
Allow about 2 weeks to cure, then take them to a commercial drum
sander and size to 1/2".
well, OK, there's room enough to get a biscuit in. however, it leaves
danm little wood on either side of it, and biscuits have a habit of
swelling in place. the odds of it showing up as an ellipse shaped lump
shortly after you apply the finish and deliver the piece are pretty
I don't use biscuits on anything thinner than 3/4", and then I shift
them a bit towards the back side of the joint.
You could probably create a tongue and groove joint with a few rip cuts with
your 1/8 in blade on your table saw almost as fast, if boards are too narrow
for biscuits. An 1/8 inch cut on each side of tongue end and two 1/8 inch
passes, direction reversed, on groove edge. No matter what you do some
sanding. scraping or hand planing is almost always necessary.. Make sure
you let joint dry for at least 24 hrs to make sure all swelling has gone
Sure, you can use biscuits to help with alignment. The only reason I
don't do it is the extra time it takes but it is really nice to have
them for alignment. You could glue them too, no problem with that.
1/2" is pretty thin but if your design has enough structure you should
be able to pull them flat during assembly if you get any warping. Be
careful not to ly them down on the bench or floor so one side is
exposed and one not. Always keep even air flow on both sides until you
get the box assembled.
The cradle can be a great toy for baby dolls if it is a grand-
daughter. Or even just a great keep-sake. Make sure you read up to see
if there are any dangers to avoid in the design. I know that cribs
have lots of dangers that have been designed out over the years and
older cribs are pretty much illegal to sell and shouldn't be passed
Sounds like a great project. Maybe you could use some exposed
dovetails at the corners! Did anyone see the Popes outer casket with
those big dovetails a few years ago?
For some reason I had the problem of biscuits
telegraphing after finishing glued panels aligned
using them. It was with 3/4" cherry boards that
had been sanded through 220 grit paper with
a satin poly finish. You could only see the
problem in certain light but was clearly visible.
I did use glue sparingly on the biscuits.
I use dowels to align my glue-ups since and
have had no problems. I would worry about
the 1/2" material doing the same. Of course the
biscuits would certain work in 1/2" stock but
I would use a few dowels instead. A spline
would work also.
The problem with biscuits, especially in thin material, is that they
swell. That's what they're supposed to do, right? But in thin
material, they swell and deform the surface. If you go back and sand
them level again, when the biscuits start to dry and shrink again,
you're left with little divots in the wood where you sanded it flat.
I think you're right in this case, use dowels for alignment, or
perhaps even better, metal pins that won't swell or contract at all.
The problem with biscuits is that you can't be sure we've heard the
final word on them. When they came out, Norm was fawning over them
like someone had reinvented the nail. They added "a lot of strength"
to the join. Then he noticed these little bumps appearing on his
stuff and he wasn't so sure about the. Later, he was gluing up table
top halves and using bicuits "for alignment purposes because they
don't add that much strength" to the panel. I'm waiting for the next
Personally I get better alignment results with cauls than with
IME, the thinner the material, the greater the possibility of
clamping/alignment issues can arise during panel glue-ups. No problem using
dry biscuits in 1/2" stock to help with this if you think it necessary.
Dry biscuits shouldn't telegraph in 1/2", can make clamping panel glue-ups a
bit less fussy, and that alone is often enough to save the day .... not that
they're necessary by any means.
Glued biscuits with anything less than 1/4" of material to the stock face is
asking for trouble, IME ... but you are obviously aware of this.
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