When you are in the wood business, it’s only a matter of time (and dedication, we might add) until you get familiar to all the tools you need to perfectly work the wood.
Therefore, eventually you get to use the biscuit joiner, aka the “plate joiner”. For those of you who don’t know by now, the biscuit joiner is a woodworking tool that helps you join two pieces of wood together.
Let’s make a short description on how a plate joiner actually works. A small circular saw blade within the biscuit joiner cuts a crescent-shaped hole (also known as “the mouth”) in the opposite edges of two pieces of wood (you may also use some wood composite panels).
A compressed wooden biscuit (that is oval-shaped and also highly dried) is covered with glue. In some cases, the glue is applied in the slot. You place right away the biscuit in the slot and the two boards are attached together. As the wet glue expands the biscuit, the bond gets also increased.
There are many job applications for the biscuit joiner. You use it when joining sheet goods: particleboard, plywood, medium-density fiberboard.
If you want to do things easier, without losing the strength, you may also use some solid wood, not use mortise, and tenon joints.
You get to use the plate joiner when you want to align pieces of wood, as they are joined edge-to-edge so that you can obtain wider panels.
No matter the job, keep in mind though using the same face when cutting the slots, as you want the boards to be the same color. Even if you used the best biscuit joiner out there (no, there is no such thing!), your work is in vain if the boards aren’t the same flush.
You may also use the biscuit joiner to align edges of your work pieces (say you want to make a 90-degree angle between your work pieces). It’s the biscuit joiner that helps you get the perfectly color joint, providing reinforcement for the joint at the same time.
There are many types of biscuit joiners out there, and you can decide for yourself if you need metal connectors or hinges. All joiner reviews highlight though that biscuit joiners are highly portable and versatile, more than anything else is.
How to choose?
There are some things to consider when you are shopping for a biscuit joiner and power is the most important aspect.
The more power the joiner gives, the more cutting strength you get. It’s quite obvious that you don’t need a beast if you only use it once a year. A smaller amperage unit would do it in this case. Nevertheless, if you use the biscuit joiner on regular basics, don’t hesitate to get a powerful tool.
You can’t talk about power without minimal consideration for the motor. The main rule is that a tool that is used very often should feature a double-insulated motor. This provides longer lifespan to the motor and the risk for overheat is minimal.
The initial cut on of the biscuit joiner (also known as “plunge”) is essential so look carefully when shopping. You want a tool that comes with a smooth plunge, that doesn’t cause uneven cuts.
And now we talk about cutting, we also need to remind of the blade that should be tight all the time. After all, you want accurate cuts all the time, right?
No tool is useful if it’s not comfortable to use. In the case of biscuit joiner, the handle should have several features for adjusting. You want an ergonomic design on the handle that ensure minimal strain, no matter how long you use the joiner.
Now that you know all these tips and info, you’re only one-step away from finding the best plate joiner for you and your needs.
Top 5 biscuit/plate joiner reviews
If you are new to working wood and don’t want the high-end biscuit joiners (for various reasons, not money related), you can start with a tool that is reliable and pretty strong. The Chicago Electric Power Tools 4″ Plate Joiner comes a very good price and gives you decent performance, with some to-be-expected limitations.
The plate joiner ensures fast and easy biscuit cuts for miter joints, T-joints, edge-to-edge cuts and also butt joints.
The list of features includes an adjustable fence and a dust port with dust bag, so that you work clean and easy every time. The fence adjusts to a maximum depth of 1-1/8 inch and tilts up to 90 degrees.
The tool is pretty versatile and the preset depth stops are for the most popular biscuits: 0, 10 and 20.
The plate joiner is strong and features an 8.5AMP motor with an 11000-RPM speed.
You may use the plate joiner right out of the box and you don’t need to make any adjustments. The tool has a solid build and runs rather quiet. Its carbide tipped blade and arbor wrench are durable and the tool gives accurate cuts.
The biscuit joiner is easy to use and to adjust.
The very short list of things we like:
- The tool has a good build and is reliable
- It’s strong and ready to use out of the box
- It’s easy to use and to adjust
- It has preset depth stops and adjustable fence
As for the things we like less, the list is rather short:
- The tool clogs rather easily
- There is some play on the tool
We try to see the bigger picture though and this gives us the image of a pretty good, reliable and strong plate joiner that comes for a low price.
Versatile and dependable in many wood applications, the Porter-Cable 557 7 Amp Plate Joiner Kit is a tool to get when you have a decent budget for it.
The plate joiner may be used for many types of wood and presents seven different cutting settings. It features a strong 7-amp motor that has a 10,000-RPM speed.
The fence on the plate joiner tilts from 0 to 135 degree and has a positive adjustable stop at 90 degrees.
You get clean, accurate cuts when using the tool and the four-inch blade is reliable for all standard-size cuts. The precision of the cuts comes from the bale handle that is not attached to the motor, but to the fence. The lock-on trigger, the Fence system with pivot point ensure precise height readings. The fencing plate gives also stabilization, spacing and centering.
The tool also comes with a centering plate, dust bag, spanner wrench and chip deflector.
You get to remove and change the blade easy and fast as the tool features a keyhole-slotted blade cover and a spindle lock.
The tool takes two blades-standard and face frame biscuits.
The plate joiner has a good weight and is easily portable. Its cord has a good length and the tool has a good build. It’s well made and comes with a storage case.