A biscuit joiner is one of the essential tools for joining two lumber pieces together with the help of ‘biscuits’ or thin dowels of compressed wood. Also known as a biscuit jointer, biscuit cutter, and a plate joiner, this power tool allows making professional, intangible joints required for designing cabinet doors, drawers, and other fixtures. Because there are various models available, choosing the best biscuit joiner can be daunting or confusing, particularly if you are buying for the first time. Well, this guide along with some genuine biscuit joiner reviews can help you choose the most suitable model as per your needs, quickly as well as smoothly.
- 1 Overview of Biscuit Joiners/Plate Joiners
- 2 When to Use a Biscuit Cutter
- 3 Choosing the Best Biscuit Joiner
- 4 What to Look For in a Plate Joiner
- 4.1 Factor 1: Your Needs
- 4.2 Factor 2: Motor
- 4.3 Factor 3: Biscuit Size
- 4.4 Factor 4: Type of Wood Biscuit
- 4.5 Factor 5: Plunge Action
- 4.6 Factor 6: Blades
- 4.7 Factor 7: Fences
- 4.8 Factor 8: Handle
- 4.9 Factor 9: Depth Halts and Stop Pins
- 4.10 Factor 10: Dust Removal
- 4.11 Factor 11: Center Plate
- 4.12 Factor 12: Accessories
- 4.13 Factor 13: Brands
- 5 5 Best Biscuit Joiners of 2016 Reviewed
- 6 Conclusion
Overview of Biscuit Joiners/Plate Joiners
A biscuit joiner is essential if you do not wish to join two wood pieces through nails, screws, or bolts. Looking much like a football, it usually has grids atop as well as at the bottom for securing the glue in place. This tool works by making inner plunges whose function is to hide the joint as well as secure the piece at its place. For joining two pieces, you often complain about spotting the joiners on the external area of the wood. However, a biscuit joiner overcomes this issue.
With a cutting disc or a retractable blade or cutting disc, the tool cuts a slot in a half oval shape, for the football-shaped biscuit to fit into a side of both the pieces with the help of the glue, thus securing the joint. You apply glue in the slots into which the inserted biscuits puff up and get stuck inside, delivering a strong assembly. Biscuits perform a critical task of giving strength to joints and aligning lumber pieces.
Biscuits usually are available in a variety of materials as well as sizes for joining together different types of materials, although they are often the choice for woodworking projects. The best plate joiners come with 4-inch round blade having four to six teeth, which is replaceable by a smaller 2-inch blade for fitting smaller biscuits.
When to Use a Biscuit Cutter
Any genuine joiner is familiar with the different ways to join two wood pieces. Nevertheless, it is vital to know the kind of joint required as per the work piece! The best biscuit cutter makes strong and reliable joints, which keep any lateral movement in the carved piece at bay. However, unlike other jointers, biscuit joints are used to join two pieces of different thicknesses.
Reflecting true versatility, a biscuit joiner is capable of rendering a myriad of invisible joints with great precision and swiftness. Listed below are a few of these joints.
- 90-degree Corner Joint: For joining pieces to be dragged in a particular direction, such as for a drawer
- Mitre Corner Joint: For gaining a clean finish for items such as boxes and furniture
- Butt Joint and Widening Joint: For joining two pieces either from edge to edge (widening) or end to end (butt), such as for a table top
- Frame Joint: For having a professional looking joint
- T-joint: For joining a central area or shelf to some furniture
The biscuit joiner is handy for Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY) desiring for quick invisible joints. It is designed for cabinetmaking projects such as table tops, small cabinets, cupboard doors, and frames. While the rendered joints alone are powerful enough to give you a sturdy structure, the tool is even used to pre-assemble pieces for further fortifying them using brackets.
You can consider buying a biscuit joiner for projects related to furniture building, post wraps, face frames, table tops, door panels, interior and exterior trim, furniture backs, and deck planters.
Choosing the Best Biscuit Joiner
Regardless of the price and brand, all biscuit joiner performing the same tasks without compromising with the expected level of efficiency. Considering this in mind, one can conclude that an entry-level best biscuit joiner is ideal for an occasional use or one-time task. In case of professional needs or frequent usage, a costlier joiner of higher quality and more durable ability is suggested. It is also made up of lighter materials, which is a pro for anyone who will be using it for a prolonged period.
Some minor differences do exist between the models, which are in terms of features, level of precision, and the ease with which you can adjust the numerous parts. It is essential to consider the adjustment details, especially if you need to use the tool with a high level of accuracy quite often, according to several biscuit joiner reviews.
It is rational to choose the right biscuit cutter rather than going for a popular one, as doing so gives you what you want or expect. To select the right model, there are a myriad of buying factors to consider along with genuine reviews by both experts and customers. Let’s consider these decision-influencing factors now.
What to Look For in a Plate Joiner
Factor 1: Your Needs
Before you go out to shop or search for any reviews, it is always wise to identify your needs and thoroughly understand them. Your needs help you in narrowing down the list of best plate joiners been shortlisted, which finally reduces confusion in selecting the right model.
For knowing your needs, you need to answer a few questions: How often you will use the tool, for what type of work you will need the tool, and what degree of precision is required, such as high or average. Once you know your needs, you now need to find the features or factors that best fulfill them. For example, if you are going to use the biscuit cutter quite often, you would need a durable tool with sturdy design, powerful motor, least rusting parts, and more warranty.
Factor 2: Motor
So, do you plan to use the biscuit joiner quite often? If yes, then it is advisable to go with a model having a double-insulated motor, as such a motor is more durable and strong against overheating. The tool is less likely to get burned in such a condition.
Another aspect to consider is the motor size. Well, it is often thought that a bigger motor is better. However, in case of a biscuit joiner, this is not always true. For making precision cuts, it is desirable to have a smaller motor, as it indicates less tool weight that is required for more accuracy.
The best biscuit joiners usually have 5-7 amp motor that rotates at a speed of around 10,000 Revolutions per Minute (RPMs). This blend of power and speed is perhaps the most powerful and safe one, which ensures clean and beyond satisfactory results if utilized properly.
Just keep in mind that power is always important, even if the scope and size of the project are not that big. This is fully applicable when it comes to using a biscuit joiner. As a rule of thumb, you need more power if the cutting strength you want is high. In case you wish to use the tool occasionally, go for a smaller amperage model, but for hardwoods or commercial tasks, or frequent use, you require more power.
Factor 3: Biscuit Size
This is an important factor to consider for any new woodworking project or to get the job done. You need to choose from three sizes of biscuits.
- Small (#0): These are smallest biscuits being 5/8 inch tall and 1 3/4 inch long. You can consider them for joining smaller wood pieces or in sections without much stress that can otherwise break these small tools easily. Picture frames regularly feature such a size due to their small pieces as well as lack of stress. Such biscuits usually fit well in slim or restricted settings, such as a frame near a cabinet door in the kitchen.
- Medium (#10): These are medium-sized biscuits being 3/4 inch tall and 2 1/8 inch long. They are ideal for any project whose size is not too small or too big. You can consider them for a variety of framing projects. In most local stores, you will easily find these biscuits.
- Large (#20): These are big biscuits being 1-inch tall and 2 3/8 inch long. They are ideal for all those projects wherein much weight and twisting is required. They work perfectly with particleboard and plywood, which typically need a great deal of stress. The biggest advantage of using a large biscuit is that you have more space to put glue and a stronger hold. Such a size is usually preferable for edge gluing, and that the biscuit can extend further into each piece. However, at times, they can prove to be too big for the task.
Kindly note that all plate cutters are 5/32 inch thick, which means the only variable aspect is the oval’s width. Ideally, you need to have each size, as maximum jobs will demand for different joints to be made.
As a rule of thumb, consider choosing the largest biscuit for your application if you will be working with narrower or slimmer material occasionally. Otherwise, it is best to use the biggest biscuit, as doing so will offer as much stability and strength as possible, to your joint. A majority of biscuit joiners will support all three sizes.
Keeping the three sizes aside, biscuits have evolved significantly. In today’s slots for biscuits, you can reinforce a miter, install a hinge, gather composite materials, and use knockdown fasteners, apart from using a biscuit as a clamp.
Factor 4: Type of Wood Biscuit
One of the commendable aspects of the best biscuit joiner is that all your requirements are fulfilled by a small number of biscuit sizes. You are good to go for any joinery work, if you have two or three biscuit sizes. Many people ask whether any particular kind of biscuit is more appropriate for your woodwork or project. Well, the practical reply is ‘no.’
Nevertheless, wooden biscuits are available in different variations namely, plywood with thin layers, and solid beech wood that is the most readily available and is the original one. Because of the compressed wood, any of these biscuits expands when exposed to liquid glue, for forming a strong joint. As a solid beech biscuit aims to work well with both solid planks and plywood, no persuasive reason exists to look for plywood biscuits for a task that involves plywood.
Apart from the above two options, you may even find a plastic product that employs a biscuit design for securing the joint. Due to no drying time involved, this product is faster to use. However, it is harder to spot such an item and is generally more expensive. Additionally, the joints it makes are tangible due to which you have to work more toward production rather than detailed joinery.
Factor 5: Plunge Action
Plunge refers to the initial cut, which you perform at first. This is why the plunge action is very important. So, consider the plunge action on your model and ensure that it is smooth, as a jerky action can trigger irregular biscuit cuts.
Factor 6: Blades
It is essential to have a tight blade regardless of the biscuit cutter or biscuit type you choose. This is because a loose blade can lead to sloppy cuts. For whomever precision is of utmost priority (and it should be), a tight blade is the way to go, as it involves little effort.
Additionally, you should also consider the size of blade. The right blade size is essential to ensure an exact plunge. A biscuit joiner with a larger blade comes with more options for you to use, but at the same time, it might become a bit tough to handle.
Commonly, 4-inch blades are used in biscuit cutters, a size that is enough for making most cuts. For most DIYers and home workers, this blade size delivers a variety of cuts without using a larger cutter. However, for professional tasks and big projects, blades of six and eight inches might be needed.
Factor 7: Fences
This is another critical part that you need to look for. Fences are responsible for aligning your tool with precision. A biscuit joiner has a smart fence system for allowing you to make angled cuts. By setting the exact depth, you can easily make a plunge cut for fitting the biscuit tightly. For enjoying more flexibility for fulfilling diverse needs of your projects, you should ensure that the fence adjustments are beyond 90 degrees.
You need to angle your tool properly to get the cut you want, which is advantageous for corner 90-degree joints, horizontal joints, and vertical joints. The fence system is such that it allows rotating the tool and locking the angle tightly for a precise cut.
Most builders consider setting the fence at 45 and 135 degrees both, which facilitates registering the tool on either the internal or external face of a mitered joint. Doing so maximizes your options while congregating pieces.
A best biscuit joiner will have a pivoting fence system, which makes it quick for you to adjust it to any angle of your choice. Moreover, it should be easy to track the fence up and down while being parallel to the blade. It is recommended looking for a rack-and-pinion system for adjusting the fence.
Factor 8: Handle
It is recommended choosing a handle with adjustable and ergonomic features. This is helpful for those with arthritis or other medical conditions with hands. Ergonomic capabilities are essential if you are planning to use the tool for an extended period of time, to keep discomfort away.
You can even go for a barrel grip or a D-style handle. A barrel grip on the tool is ideal for grabbing the tool’s body such that your hand is in line with the cut. This also helps in making it easier to remain steady, while pushing.
Factor 9: Depth Halts and Stop Pins
With a standard biscuit cutter, you will usually get three plunging depths. These three sets allow setting the blade’s stopping point. This is the depth halt at which the tool will stop cutting at the allocated distance. If the tool has more depth levels, you will definitely see the labels as S, D, and M.
With these varied levels, you can even cut homes for other things such as a duplex hinge. However, you should remember that for having smaller cuts, it is essential to change blades. This means that you need a biscuit cutter with a blade switching option.
When the tool is at work, stop pins are required to hold the blade securely in place once you proceed to cut. In simple terms, you need to ensure that the pins have secured the blade in place, prior to using the tool.
Factor 10: Dust Removal
Dust is obvious, but is accumulation is not! The moment you start the cutting process, it is likely to give out dust that can be problematic for woodworking. When you work with a biscuit joiner, dust can be even more problematic. This is because it can stick inside the new channel and prevent the biscuit from fitting into it securely or fully. If the dust accumulates inside, it is essential to remove it before gluing the two pieces.
For this purpose, consider buying a biscuit cutter with a dust bag. While the blade blows the flanking air adequately to make wind, the attached dust bag gathers the additional debris. You can alternatively attach the tool to a vacuum that will grab the dust up, while you work.
Factor 11: Center Plate
A center plate refers to a part atop the blade where the cutting work actually occurs. It is essential to have this feature for accurately aligning the material. It simply guarantees that the cut will go exactly where you want it to go.
Factor 12: Accessories
With a biscuit joiner, you may need one or more of the following accessories.
- Replacement Blades: Having an additional set of replacement blades is indispensable if you are thinking to add a joiner to your collection of power tools. A standard joiner will require four-inch blades.
- Wood Glue: This should be in plenty before starting any project. After all, it is an essential ingredient for attaching the biscuit. At the time of gluing, it is also essential to have a small brush for an even coat on the biscuit. This contributes to a tight fit once the wood section puffs up, after the biscuit is in place.
- Clamping Plate: This is required for ensuring that the biscuit remains intact when the glue is drying, especially in a delicate task.
Factor 13: Brands
It is always recommended buying a plate joiner from a popular as well as the genuine brand. Such brands include Lamello, DeWalt, Makita, Ryobi, Freud, and McCulloch. Most of these brands offer models that come with interchangeable blades. Let’s explore some of these major brands.
- DeWalt: Possessing over 90 years of experience in designing top-notch power tools, DeWalt is known for its innovation, performance, durability, and reliability – a blend that exceeds the expectations of professionals and contractors. Its prestigious reputation is also because of its high standards for environment friendliness and cleanliness. Its biscuit joiners are powerful, speedy, and are versatile enough to cut different wood materials through a dual rack and pinion fence for accuracy.
- Lamello: This one is completely admirable for innovation and efficiency. Did you know that this brand invented the plate joining technique? Its plate joiner is the most unique one in the world, in terms of construction, featuring the fence, slide shoe, and multi-function stop section from one precise milled metal piece. This construction quality ensures ideal accuracy for decades as well as flush line up of joints, saving both money and time. The models are capable of cutting slots for 12 biscuits without any kind of blade change. They have innovative rotating fence with a beveled edge for easy viewing. You also get more number of stops, as they include cutting angles of 22.5 and 67.5 degrees, as well as central locking system for instant cassette base removal.
- Makita: This is another prestigious brand in the world of power tools. Its biscuit joiners are also speedy but come with double insulation motor, adjustable fence, a carrying case, and a simple blade exchange. You can also expect protective rubber strip and a comfortable top-grip handle.
- Porter Cable: This one is another old and recognized brand like DeWalt, which is popular for service quality at a great value and innovation. It has even invented a few portable tools. Its biscuit joiners are powerful and have a centering plate, carrying case, and adjustable fence with halt as well as different cutting settings for tackling a variety of wood.
- Freud: This brand is known for absolute accuracy and quality for ensuring high efficiency. It has its own matured manufacturing processes to ensure great performance as well as maximum life to its products. Its biscuit joiners feature a powerful motor, several cutting depths, adjustable fence, and anti-slip rubber pins.
- Ryobi: This brand is known for innovation with affordability. For biscuit joiners, it ensures that its collection is the last place to look up. Apart from the basic features, its plate cutters come with eight-tooth carbide tipped blade for cleanest and precise slots.
- Chicago Electric: This brand is known for its power tools fitting into any budget and makes an appeal to do it yourself fans, as they perform the same job that a tool of industrial strength can, at most competitive price.
- Festool: This one makes a joiner that is similar to a biscuit joiner and is known as the Domino. This tool has a rotary blade to deliver a domino-shaped cut. It forms loose tenon and mortise joints, which are different than typical biscuits.
5 Best Biscuit Joiners of 2016 Reviewed
Consider this powerful joiner for crafting solid joints with high precision and quick move. It comes with 10,000 RPM motor power for making cuts at up to 20 mm depth, even in the hardest woods without any unexpected movement. Accuracy is ensured by the dual rack-and-pinion adjustable fence that keeps itself parallel with blade and tilts up to 90 degrees. You can even make flush cuts at 0 degrees with the fence being intact. The fence also has a 45-degree locating notch for easy indexing off the external area of a mitered joint. For easy setup, there are preset depth stops for all three biscuit sizes. The joiner also comes with a carbide blade, kit box, wrench, vacuum adapter, and dust bag.
Amazon Customer: “Woodworking magazines recommend this model, it’s durable and simple to use, and the stiff metal plates, hard stop guides, and blade housing were exactly what I was looking for.”
With seven cutting options accepting a variety of biscuit sizes and powerful 7-amp motor moving at 10,000 RPMs, this one handles a myriad of wood materials efficiently. The most unique point of this model is its 557’s versatile fence with pivot point for accurate height observations along with a fencing plate for spacing, centering, and stabilization. Other features include easy blade removal, 0 to 135 degree fence tilting, adjustable stop at 90 degrees, bale handle, centering plate, and dust bag.
Kellyb: “Excellent tool, very convenient to use and fast. Cuts are very accurate and good tolerances.”
This one is a fast moving plate cutter at 11,000 RPMs of 6-amp motor that can cut a variety of woods quickly and precisely. The rack-and-pinion vertical fence ensures accurate adjustments, while its cast aluminum pivot mechanism can make three stops at 0°, 45° and 90°. There are six depth settings and large grip handle for anti-slippery experience. The tool also comes with large cam locks for fence adjustments, blade cover and shaft lock for simple blade change, and ergonomic body.
Createaneutron: “New to biscuit jointing and after finishing my first project (4 ft tall solid old bookshelf) using this new tool, I can say it worked great!”
This one is a factory reconditioned tool, but works like a brand new joiner. Although it has been returned for removing cosmetic blemishes, it has been brought back to the new condition. It features 8-tooth carbide tip blade for precise and clean slots, 10,000 RPM motor speed, over mold on handles for least fatigue and more comfort, dust bag, angle cutting ability from 0-135 degrees, stops at 0, 45, 90, and 135 degrees, #10 biscuit assortment, and case.
Terry: “I cannot tell this reconditioned unit from a brand new one. Plenty of power, very basic simple adjustments, didn’t need to read the manual. For the amount of times I’ll use it, vs price, it is the perfect choice for me.”
Consider this model if you are looking for the most innovative biscuit cutter. This one comes with new base plate rotating front stop square for positioning on edge easily and an ergonomically designed motor of 780 watts. The most unique aspects of this tool are its CNC high precision parts and lasting guidance system, both of which together deliver accurate parallel slots for ideal alignment.
Thomas F Dooley: “I was going to return this in favor of a Festool domino but after receiving it and seeing the quality of it you would have to pry it from my cold dead fingers. I already forgot what I paid for it, all I see now is the quality.”
So, have you found your best biscuit joiner? If not, you can proceed to read some more biscuit joiner reviews on our site. Just ensure that you buy the one that best fulfills your requirements within the decided budget and backed by many positive user reviews.