Yes, it's true, for the cost of a bit you can turn your router table into a biscuit joiner and save yourself ... well, $100 to $200 or if you look at it another way, you can get more use out of your existing router table by just adding a biscuit joining bit to your collection.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/P2ee0uIyzQATo start with, here is Amazon link to the section that includes a few different options for the bit Amazon Store. You can purchase these bits in parts or as a complete unit that also includes 2 top bearings and you can select 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch, whichever you prefer, note some routers ONLY take 1/4 inch size bits.
Once you have the bit installed in your router, and you have the bearing "isolated", that is ... even with the fence of the router, you need to set the height of the cutting winged cutter. If you are using 3/4 inch wood, you would set the center of the tooth of the cutter at 3/8 inch. In my case I used my measuring bar to do, click here to see what Measuring Bars look like. Doing this will ensure the biscuit slots you cut will be almost centered in the wood.
The next thing you need to do is to mark the wood you are going to cut the slots in. You may need to test this to make sure your slots are long enough to accommodate the biscuits you are using. In my case, after the initial plunge cut, I needed to move my wood 1/2 inch to the left to make my slots long enough.
** Remember, when you are cutting wood with a router table the flow of the wood wants to go from right to left, this means you are forcing wood into the cutting path of the bit just as you force wood into the cutting path of a table saw blade.
Once all the spots where you want to cut a slot have been "taped" you can cut the tape between your wood. This means you now have a start and stop place marked by the edge of the tape, and you also have your face side of the wood identified by the tape.
The next step is to cut the slots into your wood.
After the cuts, examine the slots to ensure they line up on both pieces of wood and do a dry fit to see how they align. Glue as needed.
Things to Consider
Despite the fact that this method does work well, there are things you need to know. First and foremost, in order to get your slots to align, the wood you are cutting needs to be flat against the router table, especially at the point where the slots are being cut. If your wood has a bow or twist in it, you need to make an extra effort to get that wood flat against the router table top as it enters the winged cutter. If it is off, your slots will not align and your wood will not align because the biscuits will not allow the wood to align. If this happens, you are best to NOT use biscuits in that particular spot, you may be able to just glue the wood together without biscuits and it may align on its own. Often you can skip putting biscuits in one spot, and the wood will still align .. but be VERY critical in your dry fits to make sure they align. Dry Fit, Dry Fit, Fry Fit !!!!!
If things go wrong and your boards get glued up and the alignment is off too much. The only alternative is to re-cut the wood on your table saw and probably re-joint the wood as well and start over with slots in different areas. This is something I have had to do on a few occasions, and that's all part of woodworking.
As I mentioned in the video, I use the Dowelmax dowleing jig, not only for making all my wood joints, but also for joining wood, ie for glue-ups of boards to align the boards during clamping, so my dowelmax replaces not only a biscuit joiner, but also a mortising machine. You can read more about it by searching this website for the the dowelmax or doweling. It's just another alternative to helping us in joining wood.
Copyright Colin Knecht