Even though they are a slightly one dimensional tool, learning how to use a biscuit joiner properly is crucial to making wood joints in an efficient manner.
Not only are there different joint systems and types, but different joiner tools have their different strengths and weaknesses.
For example, the flexibility and range of settings on the biscuit/plate joiner fence can impact significantly on the quality, and speed of work.
The following guide will teach you how to use a biscuit joiner efficiently, along with a few other tips for getting the most out of this woodworking tool.
(*Note that this is a general information guide only, and not professional advice. Do your own research about proper safety and operating practices before using a biscuit joiner)
How To Use A Biscuit/Plate Joiner: FAQ & Tips
How To Use A Biscuit Joiner
- Mark on the two pieces of wood (with a pencil) when the slots are going to go (face of wood or end of wood, or both)
- Set the tool to the size of biscuit you want to use
- Set the joiner fence for the height of your wood
- Set the joiner fence for the angle you want to cut into your wood
- Lock the fence in place so it doesn’t move – you may need to add sub fences or inserts at this point to modify the height or angle of your main fence (particularly for mitre joints)
- Clamp your wood down if required
- Line your reference marks on the joiner up with the markings you made on the wood where the slots/biscuits are going to go
- Pull the tool away from the wood and turn it on and let it get up to full speed
- When you’re ready, line the joiner up with the marks again and plunge the blade into the wood. You now have a slot (referred to as the mouth)!
- Repeat process of adjusting fence height and angle for other slots if required
- Glue your slots or your biscuits and place biscuits in the slots, and push wood together
- Clamp wood together and leave to dry if required for stronger join
Safety Tips For Using A Biscuit Joiner
Wear safety glasses and a dust mask
Wear hearing protection
Don’t start the tool with the joiner on the wood – otherwise it grabs the wood and and the wood goes flying.
Clamp down pieces of wood if required (usually if they are too big to simply hold with your hand)
A dust extraction system can help clear wood dust if you work in an enclosed area, or you are producing wood dust for extended periods
Plate Joiner vs. Biscuit Joiner – What’s The Difference?
A plate joiner and biscuit joiner are two different words used to describe the same tool.
A biscuit and a plate are the same thing – a small dried/compressed piece of beech/particle wood that slots into the holes created by the joiner blade, to join two pieces of wood together with a concealed joint.
Some plate joiners also use dowels as joints.
When glue is applied to the biscuit, it expands in the slot/hole, creating a solid join.
Is A Biscuit/Plate Joiner Different To A Domino Joiner or, Mortise & Tenon System Joint?
In short, yes.
Most standard biscuit/plate joiners are the biscuit/plate joint system.
However, certain joiner tools like the Festool joiner brand, have a tenon joint (which is bigger and thicker than a biscuit) that fit in a mortise (a bigger slot than a standard cut) for a more heavy duty joint.
Usually, a mortise and tenon/domino joint tool like the Festool is quicker and more efficient to set up and perform a large number of cuts and joints with.
If you are a professional joiner or woodworker, a mortise and tenon type joiner tool might be a better option.
Casual users and homeowners/DIY’ers will be fine with a biscuit/plate joiner tool.
Biscuit Joiner Uses
Biscuit joiners are mainly used to create standard concealed joints between two pieces of wood – usually butted up against each other, and mitred wood edges.
Tenon and mortise joints can be good for bigger, more structural joints, such as large bookshelves, big cabinets and cupboards, door jambs and general larger joinery and woodworking projects.
Biscuit Joiner Blade
The most common biscuit joiner blade size is a 4 inch diameter/100mm blade.
A wood cutting type metal blade is used in most instances.
Biscuit Joiner Biscuit Sizes
#H9, #0, #10, #20, #D, #S, #S6 are the range of standard biscuit sizes available, with the #0, #10 and #20 sizes being the most common.
Domino/tenon joints have their own sizes such as 4 x 20mm, 5 x 30mm, 6 x 40mm, 8 x 40mm, 8 x 50mm, 10 x 50mm, and the joints themselves can come in different shapes.
Biscuit Joiner Biscuits
As we mentioned above, there are two main types of joint systems:
Biscuits/Plates and mouth cut – small dried/compressed piece of beech/particle wood that expands in a slotted joint when glue is applied
Tenon/Domino Joints and mortise cut – made of prefabricated beech with a thicker mortise cut