Although plate or biscuit joiners have little to no use beyond the one task they’re built for, they complete the task so diligently, that they are a must for every woodworking environment. Referred to as a biscuit cutter, this miniature saw cuts thin slots into edges of wood boards which are then used to hold two pieces of stock together via a biscuit. Hence the name.
What is a biscuit?
Before getting into the nitty gritty of biscuit joiners, it’s helpful knowing what a biscuit is and does. Biscuits are thin, oval-shaped slices of wood and are usually made from compressed beechwood. They are glued to a slot on the edge of one board and in a corresponding slot on the other, and are especially useful when gluing together individual boards when making table tops, cabinet constructions, etc.
Why Use Plate Joiners?
Plate joiners eliminate the common problems associated with using a slot-cutting router bit for cutting grooves in biscuits since it is generally impossible to continuously insert routs bits into the edge of boards at a perfect perpendicular angle.
Blades of plate joiners spin at speeds of up 10,000 RPM and is embedded within the guard of the saw, before being plunged into a stock piece. Additionally, its guide systems effectively guarantee perpendicular cuts to a stock’s edge, leading to a snug fit.
Plater Joiner Features
High quality plate joiners feature a fully adjustable depth scale, a bevel for cutting slots at a 45-degree angle, maximum; and a sawdust port for dust collection. Some plate joiners come with the feature for cutting grooves in the edges of stuck but we feel there are other (not to mention, better and safer) tools on the market, for cutting T&G joints.
How to Use a Plate Joiner:
There are a number of steps to follow in order to use a plate joiner in successfully connecting two boards’ edges.Check the boards (both should be of the same thickness) to ensure they line up (ie full contact across their lengths)*.
- Place the two correctly aligned boards on your work table in their final positions.
- Pencil in evenly spaced out markings across the joint, where each biscuit on the board will fit in.
- Using the plate joiner, put the guide fence flat on top of one board’s surface, lining the cutting guide with the pencil. (Work on one board at a time)
- Turn on the saw, inserting the blade into board up to the stop line.
- Remove and repeat at each pencil mark.
- After completing all cuts, put glue on the slots of one board, inserting a biscuit into each and sliding the second board onto the biscuit.
- Use clamps to hold the joints together as the glue dries, also ensuring not to tighten the clamps too tight so as to squeeze out the glue trapped within.
- *If the two edges aren’t matching up, using a pass through jointer to machine-plane the two stock pieces ensures two straight edges.
Plate Joiner Safety Measures
Before using the plate joiner, it’s always useful to carefully follow all the safety rules listed in its instructions manual.
Ensure you use only sharp blades in the biscuit cutter and NEVER use it without its blade guard.
Be absolutely positive that its motor is running at full speed before inserting into a board and never (in)advertently apply any pressure to slow down a spinning blade.