A biscuit joiner, also known as a biscuit jointer, a biscuit cutter, or a plate joiner, is an electrical woodworking tool used for the quick and reliable alignment and joining of wooden boards.
The biscuit joiner has a small circular saw blade of 4 inches that cuts a crescent-shaped slot, which is called a “mouth”, into two pieces of wood to join them. An oval-shaped piece of compressed wood, called a “biscuit”, is covered in glue, which makes it expand rapidly. The biscuit is then placed between the slots to align the boards and strengthen the bond. The result is a tight, seamless, and hidden joint without using staples or nails.
What is a biscuit joiner used for?
A biscuit joiner is commonly used in woodworking and carpentry for joining and aligning mating pieces of wood together in a quick, and simple, yet strong way. This tool is perfect for woodworkers, carpenters, and DIYers, and for light to medium-duty applications such as accent tables, boxes, drawers, frames, and cabinet carcasses.
What types of joints can be made with a biscuit joiner?
With a biscuit joiner you can make four different types of joints.
The “edge to edge” joint is the most common one, and it is used to bring two or more boards together to create a wider one to build tabletops, for example. Boards of different widths but of the same thickness are laid out side by side, and the end grain of each of them is aligned in the opposite direction of that of the previous board. The biscuits are then placed on the long edges of the boards.
The other three types of joints are those used to strengthen. The first one is called “miter joint”, and it is usually found in picture framing because you can hide the end grain of the pieces with it. The second one is the “butt joint”, which is used to fix boards end to end after each wood piece is cut straight and square. The last one is called “T-joint”, and as its name suggests, it’s used to arrange boards in a “T” formation by connecting the end grain of one board to the side of its mate.
When not to use a biscuit joiner?
Every electrical tool requires you to follow certain precautions when operating them, and the biscuit joiner is no exception. You should not use a biscuit joiner if you:
- Plan on building high-stress joints. It is best not to use biscuits for heavy-duty projects because there is a high chance they will not hold.
- Have not thoroughly inspected the wood pieces you will be joining. The pieces should have no cracks or knots that could obstruct your work. Any nails, screws, or staples should be removed before using the biscuit joiner. Remember that the surface should be smooth and flawless to avoid any accidents.
- Do not have protective gear. Hearing protection, gloves, a face mask, and safety goggles are essential to protect you against noise, sawdust, and debris produced by the machine.
- are wearing loose-fitting clothes or jewelry that could get in the way and cause an accident.
- Have not firmly secured the piece you are working on. Everything should be clamped to your workstation to avoid dangerous slips.
- have a dull blade. A sharp blade will cut the slots easily and safely, but a dull one will tear through the wood, which could send debris in your direction, and damage the boards as well.
How much money does a biscuit joiner cost?
Biscuit joiners are not cheap, but they are a good investment if you are an enthusiastic DIYer, or if you are in the woodworking business.
Prices start at $60, and they will vary depending on the features and accessories the tool includes. On Amazon, you can find corded biscuit joiners with a carbide-tipped blade, adjustable fence, and a sawdust bag to collect the flying debris for $75 to $85 depending on the brand.
There are some cordless models available in the market for approximately $100, but not many, as corded joiners are more common.
The most expensive models are over $200, and they either have the most powerful motor, in the case of corded joiners, or lithium batteries, in the case of cordless joiners. They usually include a case, and other accessories such as a bag of biscuits as well.
Where can I buy a biscuit joiner?
You can buy a biscuit joiner at any hardware or home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s. There you will find a wide range of options and brands that you can choose from depending on what you need this tool for. You can find it in other places too, such as the home improvement section of Walmart, but the choice will be quite limited.
Which biscuit joiner should I buy?
When you go shopping for the best biscuit joiner to suit your woodworking needs, there are a few things you should consider.
First, is the power source. Like almost any other power tool, biscuit joiners can be corded or cordless. Since working in tight spaces or climbing a ladder with this tool is not really a concern, portability is not something you should worry about. Instead, you will have to consider the convenience of each option. On the one hand, with a corded joiner you will be able to work for long periods of time without needing to recharge a battery. On the other hand, with a cordless joiner you will not need an extension cord if you do not have an outlet nearby.
Another feature is the type of handle. There are two styles: The D-shaped and the barrel grip. The former is more comfortable because you are actually holding the body of the tool, but this makes it wobbly, and less accurate. The barrel grip offers more control when you are cutting a slot because your hand is aligned with it.
Next is the blade size. Biscuit joiners use a circular blade that is thicker, smaller, and has fewer teeth than the one you will find in a circular saw. The standard blade size for biscuit joiners is 4”, but some models allow you to change the blade and put in smaller ones if you need to.
Last are the fence features, which allow you to adjust cutting angles and depth. With adjustable fences, you can use different types of joints and biscuits without worries.
The biscuit joiner can solve all your assembly and alignment problems, as long as they’re not heavy-duty. Although they can be a bit on the expensive side, they are a very useful and a good investment for woodworkers and DIYers alike because they can build strong joints in a quick, simple, and smooth way to make tabletops, drawers, boxes, and so on. When you go shopping for your new biscuit joiner you should consider the power source, the handle style, the blade size, and the fence features that best suit your woodworking needs. Finally, as with any other electric tool, it is important to follow certain precautions and be careful when operating it.