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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So Walt the computer whiz and budding woodworker calls up and says "Hey, you got a biscuit joiner?" ....Yup, Never used it though. .... "Bring it over, I've got a project I need it for." ....OK, I'll be there shortly and I'll bring the computer with no sound...
"see Ya."
Actually I brought over 2 computers. :blink:

So he shows me 2 - 3/16" thick Birdseye Maple bookmatch center pieces for a night stand, glued to several Red Oak pieces and it's got a serious cup, 1/16" in 12" :eek: and he wants to border it with 3" wide QSWO, with butted ends.

"Walt, we can't do this here, it's gotta go back to the shop.":yes:

So, I take it back home, rip them down the glue lines, joint the edges, sand all the pieces through the baby drum sander and glue it back together, nice and flat.

NOW, out comes the biscuit joiner. :eek: This wasn't my idea.... OK, clamp down the pieces, mark the locations on both surfaces and power up the tool, plunging it into the edge referencing off the flat table. Height of the slot, not critical but, all pieces must be uniform thickness, face up. Apply glue to both edges and a dab or 2 on the biscuit, and press them together with the ends proud to trim off later. Working fine so far. Same on the other end, pipe clamps squeeze out TB2, and let it set up.

Trim the ends flush, rip a 1/32" off each edge and prep for the long edges, clamp them down, mark the locations, power up the B/J tool and let her rip. Glue up the edges,a dab on the bisquits and WOAH! .... somthin' ain't right .... the pieces don't align flush! WHAT? That's what a biscuit joiner is supposed to do, help align the pieces.... :blink:

Quick grab the biscuits with the vise and yank them out, and say "screw the biscuits, just edge join it ...Walt will never know..."
Now I know there is an issue with wood movement, and cross grain to long grain, but "This wasn't my idea in the first place, so we'll just see what happens, The center pieces are 12" or so by 15" long, shouldn't move much in that width..."

Clamp up the pieces with clamps on both sides, the joints are virtually seamless and invisible. :thumbsup: I let them set up overnight, remove the clamps and then run them through the 24" dual drum sander until they are perfectly flat and smooth.
DANG, they look great! :yes:
 

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Sawdust Creator
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I love my biscuit jointer, I dunno why they're so hit or miss it seems.
 

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Old School
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I have had the same problem with my biscuit joiner! Can anyone explain this ? It is really frustrating.
The problem here I'm guessing is that the jointer was referenced off the table instead of having the guide down and referencing off the top face. IMO, biscuits are junk joinery, and offer very little axial strength. They are intended to help keep parts from pulling apart.





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I <3 the smell of sawdust
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I love using the biscuit jointer. It works great. I have the exact same one you do. In looking at your pictures, I'm wondering why the horizontal fence is still up in the vertical (stored) position? If you left it up, then that's your problem right there! Part of the problem might be doing the ends of the short pieces. It can be difficult to make sure the plate jointer stays perfectly square to the work piece. I have a piece of 1/4" wood that I attach to the horizontal plate of the jointer for doing the ends of boards that aren't quite wide enough. It's all about making sure the tool sits and stays perfectly square with the work piece. I've also found that I use a specific way of pushing/pulling the tool into the work piece to make the cut. I have my right hand on the trigger and my left hand squeezes the top handle to the vertical fence of the tool. That way, I don't have to push hard at all with my right hand, and am less likely to have the tool shift while making the cut. Also, the tool has a couple of sets of teeth next to the blade that can be extended to push into the work piece to help keep the tool from shifting during the cut.
 

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Always easier to blame the tool. ;) i use biscuits for alignment, not strength. Always feel like I'm being careful to stay square before plunging but every once in awhile they don't seam to cooperate. One thing is always set up the boards so you are pushing and holding the same way on every board. I get lazy once in awhile and do the crossover "I'll get these three upside down" move and it rarely goes well.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies

Part of the "problem" was/is I didn't read the instructions! :eek:
Real woodworkers don't read instruction manuals..... :no: :whistling2::bangin: Also, I had never used the tool before except a practice run, way back and then just before this project. So, after all this, I read the manual and learned a few things.

The fence can be horizontal or at any angle to 45 degress, however, when referencing off the work bench surface, I didn't think it should come into play. I didn't really push down firmly on the front handle and of course being abit aggressive it managed to move up off the bench top. The fence would not have prevented that since would also raise up with the rest of the tool.

According to the manual you would use the fence when referencing off the top surface, not the bench top. This would allow you to make more than one slot, one above the other for thicker materials.... OK, but not needed here for 3/4"
It did occur to me to attach a spacer to the base with sticky tape to raise the base off the bench top. In the manual the fence is shown registering off an edge to make a right angle joint which would make more sense to me.

The "anti-slippage" pins I didn't know existed! I'm not sure about them and if I had designed the tool, they would progressively come into play as the cutter was moved forward, not all the time, and need to be adjusted in or out as needed.

As far as "junk joinery" goes, they are not so different from loose tenons or dowels, in that hole or slots need to be milled or drilled, alignment is still a factor, a separate piece of material is added into the parent stock which may or may not swell or move etc. I did notice that the biscuits did not seem all exactly the same thickness. :blink: Some went in easier than others and they were all from the same batch. I used Porter Cable bisquits and the Dewalt joiner, but shouldn't matter.

A whole discussion will always come up around biscuits, loose tenons, pocket screws and frankly it doesn't matter to me as much as the particular application, and whether they will be seen. I've never used pocket screws myself, but I can see where they would be practical. I have used dowels, including some 3/4" on a 2 1/4" thick door using a drill guide. I don't know if biscuits will become a mainstay in my projects after this but I'm not gonna rule them out. :whistling2::bangin:

This was definitely a learning experience...at my buddies expense, :laughing: but all in all, it turned out well. That's some incredible bird's eye maple he found and now I'm gonna hafta' get me some. I know where he bought it and have been there many times before, Armstrong Mill in Highland, MI. He had it resawn at the mill at got 2X more per board ft. that way for a nominal charge.
 

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I have a Freud biscuit joiner and while I'm not at all opposed to using It i find the I very rarely do, had it for about a year now and probably only used it 4 times. Seemed to work well tho when I did use it

pit bulls rock!
 

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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Biscuit Joiner project 2

So Walt called again and needed help with a kitchen table top made of curly Maple to be trimmed in 3" QSWO. Having had good luck with the above table tops, I squared up the panel, ripped and jointed the trim pieces and then started in having more experience and confidence this time. I even used my shop built panel saw for cleaning up and squaring the width, sorry no photos.

I'm still not using the machine as designed according to the manual and find my way to be pretty "foolproof" if I pay attention. Granted there is a slight variation in the biscuit thickness and some slide in easier than others, but generally they do keep the reference face in pretty good alignment... I'd guess 1/64" or so.

Here's what I did:
Because the base of the machine is larger than the table, I instinctively felt that was a better support. The manual says otherwise. :blink: I just put the good faces flat down on the table and clamped them for security and to keep them flat.
You must reference off the good face when creating a groove however, so the good face is flush when you finish. You don't "need" them but they can be helpful if the boards have any curve to them and may walk/move when the clamp are tightened. I just glued a large panel today with a 3" QSWO border on the edges.
I used biscuits... :eek: to help align the good surfaces and referenced off the good face flat on the bench. This was a glue up that was my buddies, and it had warped, so I had to clamp it to the bench using a caul to get it flat. The biscuits are the same dimension up from the table that way and will auto-align when they are glued together. It went very well with the 2 of us gluing and aligning, even though he was down to one good arm from a previous surgery.
Now this my 3rd try at biscuits and I'm gettin' the hang of it more each time and liking them for alignment only, since they do not add any strength. The 4 separate trim pieces on this top were one dimension and the top was slightly thicker. So, to get them all flush on the good side, I laid that side down and ran the biscuit cutter in using the bench top as the reference. Other may have different experiences than I did so that's understandable, but I like the process.

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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It must have turned out OK....

I got this in an email today:
 

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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Check the oven

Looks Great! :thumbsup:

But I can't see the biscuits... :blink:
I couldn't see them either, heard a lot of bad things about them, then I tried them. They're OK, but I would only use them on panels that were warped or of different thickness initially. The thinner borders in QAWO dictated the center panel get sanded down in a wide belt sander on the back side first, then after flattening it was flipped over, good side up.
If I had more use for a wide belt I'd get one, but when I need one it's 3 miles down the road and a phone call away.

I haven't seen it person yet, still waiting for the invite.... :blink:
 
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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
vindicated!

I used the biscuit joiner registering on the base rather than the fence as the manual instructed. Now I find out that's the preferred method in this video. DANG!

Look in at 1:15
 
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Wood Snob
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ifishwhenican said:
Always easier to blame the tool. ;) i use biscuits for alignment, not strength. Always feel like I'm being careful to stay square before plunging but every once in awhile they don't seam to cooperate. One thing is always set up the boards so you are pushing and holding the same way on every board. I get lazy once in awhile and do the crossover "I'll get these three upside down" move and it rarely goes well.
I just don't understand how the biscuit jointer works for alignment. Mine cuts a slot wider than the biscuit. I am at liberty to move the joint one way or the other. Nothing about the Porter Cable biscuit jointer aids in alignment.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Wood Snob
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I'm still not using the machine as designed according to the manual and find my way to be pretty "foolproof" if I pay attention. Granted there is a slight variation in the biscuit thickness and some slide in easier than others, but generally they do keep the reference face in pretty good alignment... I'd guess 1/64" or so.

Bill
I buy the Porter Cable biscuits. They are compressed. When they take on moisture over time they swell. Brand new(fresh) ones are quite thin and wobble in the joint until they soak up the glue.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 
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