biscuits or dowels

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  #1  
Old 08-12-03, 11:05 AM
TKEcowboy
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biscuits or dowels

Is there really any reason to prefer dowels over biscuits or vise verse when it comes to joining wood? Shouldn't they each work about the same? Thanks.

Glenn
 
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Old 08-12-03, 12:48 PM
C
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Welcome back, TKEcowboy.

Well, yes and no. When you set a dowel with glue it snugs into the hole and the glue sets and bonds the dowel to the wood. When you set a biscuit with glue it expands as it absorbs moisture from the glue as the glue sets bonding the biscuit to the wood. The biscuit expands against the wood, which is why biscuits are not set too near the surface. They will telegraph through the wood to the surface.

When you cut a dowel joint apart, you can see the dowel intact and could remove it if the glue let go. When you cut a biscuit joint apart, there is almost no distinguishing between the biscuit and the wood where they join. If you could get the glue to let go, you likely could not remove the biscuit because of its expansion.

For complete alignment, it is hard to beat a dowel. Plus, dowels can be used for joints that fit together and are able to be disassembled. Some table leaves have guide pins in them that are essentially dowels. Biscuits don't suit for disassembly, because they absorb moisture and swell to fill the hole. You can wipe a biscuit with some water and insert it into a slot. In 30 minutes you will never get it out.

For me, it is simpler and faster to cut slots for biscuits, and assemble from there. Of course, I have a biscuit joiner and jigs for biscuits, and different sizes of biscuits. I don't have any jigs for dowels, so I would have to start from scratch in doweling.

Start to finish, doweling is probably cheaper.

There are special biscuits made for knockdown furniture, but that is another topic.

It just never gets any simpler, does it?

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 08-12-03, 01:34 PM
TKEcowboy
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Well, since I am still in my infancy with regard to woodworking, and am not ready to shell out $100+ for a biscuit joiner, I think I'll start with dowels Why, I may even just make my own doweling jig

Glenn
 
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Old 08-12-03, 02:00 PM
C
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Now, that's a plan. You will get more mileage out of your initial money and time with doweling.
 
  #5  
Old 08-14-03, 05:39 PM
brickeyee
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Doweled joints are not as strong since a significant portion of the glue is attached to end grain. If you look how the grain is cut when you drill a hole, there are two lines of side grain and two lines of end grain. The grain between is at changing angles between the two. Glue on end grain has little strength. Glue on side grain has maximum strength. he dowels should really only be used to provide alignement to the joint. For weight bearing joints you should learn how to cut mortises and tennons. Both can be done with hand tools, though faster with power tools. Mortises can be bored and cleaned out by hand, routed and the ends left round or squared. Tennons can be cut with a tennoning saw (a smaller type of back saw). Get a subscription to Fine Wooworking. It has lots of good articles. A complete set of back issues is available on a CD for around $125. I have a complete set in hardcopy, and it has been worth every penny.
 
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