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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a question regarding biscuits: do they provide significant structural integrity? Or are they mainly for esthetic appeal, or when screws can't be used? I ask because I will be building a bookshelf for my niece, which will have to support a good amount of weight. I just discovered the biscuit joiner and have been practicing with it on scrap wood. I really like the way it joins wood together, but would hate for the shelf to collapse under the weight of her books. Thanks!
 

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I have a question regarding biscuits: do they provide significant structural integrity? Or are they mainly for esthetic appeal, or when screws can't be used? I ask because I will be building a bookshelf for my niece, which will have to support a good amount of weight. I just discovered the biscuit joiner and have been practicing with it on scrap wood. I really like the way it joins wood together, but would hate for the shelf to collapse under the weight of her books. Thanks!
I don't use biscuits much and am not convinced they do much for structural strength. For bookshelves, it's hard to beat dados. Also cheaper than a biscuit joiner. JMHO:smile:
 
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Biscuits have their use, and can be quite handy at times....but I wouldn't use them the way you suggested. To be sure, it's been done; David Marks built a wine rack that had the shelves butt joined and biscuited, Scott Phillips built a bonnet top high boy using butt joints and biscuits (!). (Both these guys have/had TV woodworking shows.....well, Marks had a woodworking show, Phillips has a woodworking hack show). Anyway, as mentioned, dadoes would be a better approach if you're set up to do them.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Fred Hargis said:
Biscuits have their use, and can be quite handy at times....but I wouldn't use them the way you suggested. To be sure, it's been done; David Marks built a wine rack that had the shelves butt joined and biscuited, Scott Phillips built a bonnet top high boy using butt joints and biscuits (!). (Both these guys have/had TV woodworking shows.....well, Marks had a woodworking show, Phillips has a woodworking hack show). Anyway, as mentioned, dadoes would be a better approach if you're set up to do them.
Dado? New to me. Got a link where I can learn more about this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
jschaben said:
I don't use biscuits much and am not convinced they do much for structural strength. For bookshelves, it's hard to beat dados. Also cheaper than a biscuit joiner. JMHO:smile:
Never heard of dados - new to all of this. Can you share a link with more info about this?
 

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Here ya go, Jennifer. Dado
The article doesn't talk about tools, though. You can build a jig and use a router or use a table saw and dado blade. You can even chop them with a chisel. If they are stopped dados, you'll probably need a chisel to square up the stopped end regardless of which power tool you choose. the router will leave a rounded end and the dado blade will leave a curved incline in the dado. Although, some folks shape the tenon to fit rather than chopping the dado square. Different strokes.
 

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Jennifer, dados aren't hard to do if you have a router or a table saw. Heck, even I can do them and I'm also pretty new to this scene. This is a great resource by itself, but I have also bought several kindle books on topics that interest me. One great one was Comp Illus GT Joinery (Complete Illustrated Guide) by Rogowski. I also got the Joint Book in hardcover. The name has already turned a few heads as I keep it by my seat in the living room.
 

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I've used only biscuits and glue to build a couple of bookshelves, loaded them up with books and their still going strong (even moving them full of books). Those biscuits are actually pretty strong in shear resistance as well as pull-out resistance. In addition, the biscuits speed up assembly, since you can pull the clamps relatively quickly, and are good for getting the pieces aligned during assembly.

That said, I use the biscuit joiner because I already have it - bought it when they were all the rage. Since then, pocket screw jigs have come along and taken care of a lot of the applications for which I bought the biscuit joiner.

So, I don't think I'd buy the biscuit joiner now. As noted, you can take care of everything that the biscuit joiner would do with dados and pocket screws.
 

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I like biscuit joinery, and have used them for shelves in several cabinets. They were bathroom cabinets, and weren't expected to hold a lot of weight. I'd probably trust them in a small to medium sized bookcase, but I'd use as many as would fit on the end of each shelf.

Having said all that, I think dados will provide more strength. If you don't want to see the dado joints on the front edges of the bookcase, you can use half-blind (stopped) dados. A google image search will show you what they look like.
 

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If you make through dados, you can hide them with a piece of molding on the front edge of bookcase.

If you choose biscuit joinery, you can reinforce them by gluing a small strip of wood under all the shelves. It can be a small piece of 1/2 round molding or whatever. These can be hidden by gluing a small face frame to the bookcase.

I know we are all throwing a bunch of woodworking talk at you but some things can be searched or have patience with us and ask. We will explain and you will learn. We all remember our own humble beginnings (many of us prior to the net and these forums).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all for your informative responses. All the new info gives me at least a weeks worth of research - but you know what this means... New toys for me are in my near future!!
:)
Jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Jennifer, dados aren't hard to do if you have a router or a table saw. Heck, even I can do them and I'm also pretty new to this scene. This is a great resource by itself, but I have also bought several kindle books on topics that interest me. One great one was Comp Illus GT Joinery (Complete Illustrated Guide) by Rogowski. I also got the Joint Book in hardcover. The name has already turned a few heads as I keep it by my seat in the living room.
Thank you, NetDoc...just had to comment on your scuba pic...from one fellow scuba enthusiast to another! Ever been diving out here in Micronesia where I am? It's like being in a Sea World aquarium ... We are truly spoiled in these parts!
Cheers!
 

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Thank you, NetDoc...just had to comment on your scuba pic...from one fellow scuba enthusiast to another! Ever been diving out here in Micronesia where I am? It's like being in a Sea World aquarium ... We are truly spoiled in these parts!
Cheers!
I live in Key Largo... it's awesome here as well. I hope to make it out there sometime: it's on my to dive list, for sure. Have you heard of ScubaBoard.com? If not, you should take a look some time. We have over 230,000 registered divers worldwide sharing their love of Scuba and the waters we call our second home.
 

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I'm with ed-h in that,we use biscuits almost exclusively for line-up purposes.Rarely as "glue elements".....more when there is a tricky,hard to reach/measure situation.Also,rarely in anything but a 90*...a style to carcass is an example.We use them most often to "hang" cornice sections on library book cases and some ornate kitchen heads.

You can accomplish a dado by the build-up method vs the cutting/milling way.Imagine a 1x12 board.....in between shelves you simply have 1/4" plywood "spacers".These spacers lock the shelves into place.We don't use this method a lot...but it does work and is incredibly fast/strong.It is an expedient for those without certain tooling.Further,it does open up your case interiors for some neat designs....you can scroll the 1/4" with whatever designs your little heart desires....then it forms "relief" inside the case,between shelves.We use this often enough with various religious symbols...it's pretty "trick",haha.
 

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The use of biscuits in my shop is directly related on the time I have to complete the project. Biscuits are fast and I haven't had any problems with them. I rely on them for alignment only. Given time, I prefer tongue and groove as that technique adds structural integrity. I feel much the same about biscuits as I do about pocket joints. Time is the defining factor in the decision to use either.
 

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I use biscuits only occasionally, despite their ease of use. Yes, the dado would be best for bookshelves. Dowels would work too. It all depends on the design.

Biscuit bookshelf

Dowel bookshelf


Dado bookshelf

What kind of design are you going for?
 
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WOW Julie - you're good. All the wording thus far and here you have it in a nutshell. I'm impressed!
 

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I use biscuits when I need glue up a big board like table top. Not sure about additional streights but they absolutely help in alligment and putting clamps correctly. As result it requires much less time for me and less chance the glue will dry during assembly. Also the board itself will require less sanding after. It was really important when I didn't have thickness planner. To make biscuit I use router and router bit. Looked at the tool some time ago but it looks a bit over expensive for seldom use.
 

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jschaben said:
I don't use biscuits much and am not convinced they do much for structural strength. For bookshelves, it's hard to beat dados. Also cheaper than a biscuit joiner. JMHO:smile:
Fine Woodworking Mag built a dining chair with biscuit jointing. They do quite well.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 
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