How To Use A Biscuit Joiner
There are many woodworking projects where it may become necessary to use a biscuit joiner. Biscuit joiners are small, flat pieces of wood that make it possible to attach a smooth “face” to things like kitchen cabinets, without the unsightly and annoying appearance of nails or screws. Below are explanations of biscuits and biscuit joiners, as well as how to use them.
Step 1 – Understanding The Terms
You may be asking exactly what a biscuit is. Essentially, it is a flat piece of wood, shaped roughly like a football. They are usually 1/8 inch thick and come in varying lengths, depending on the exact purpose of the biscuit.
A biscuit joiner, otherwise known as a plate joiner, is a single purpose tool designed expressly for placing biscuits. It has a circular saw that will cut to the proper depth and shape into the side of a piece of wood to allow your biscuit to fit.
The “face” is a common woodworking term for the clean and smooth front side of your wooden project. It is most often used to refer to things like the front frame on a cabinet box, where hinges and/or latches are installed. Biscuits are used to join the face to the box because it doesn’t require nails, screws, or anything else that will show up to the naked eye later.
The face frame is made up of a combination of stiles and rails. Stiles are the vertical pieces to the frame, while the rails are the horizontal pieces.
Step 2 – Measure And Cut
Measure out and cut each piece that you plan to assemble using your biscuits. Typically, if there is also some nail, screw, and glue work to be done, you’ll want to do this now. And if you are building a face for any sort of cabinet, be sure to take your measurements for the face from the front of your constructed cabinet box.
Step 3 – Lay It Out
Take each piece that you plan to biscuit join together and lay them out on a flat surface exactly as they should look when you’re done. First, this helps to make sure that you’ve cut everything to the right sizes. Also, you’ll need to use a pencil and tape measure to mark the center point at each connecting point where you’ll be using a biscuit. Be sure to mark the same spot on both pieces.
Step 4 – The Biscuit Joiner
Read all the instructions that come with the biscuit joiner. Your joiner should have a center indicator; line this up with your pencil mark, and plunge cut the blade into the edge of the joint.
Step 5 – Check Your Cuts
Place dry biscuits into each of your cuts and fit the whole frame together. This is to be sure that the cuts were made to the right size, and to make sure that everything fits to the right measurement. Be sure to measure diagonally from corner to corner. If you come out with one diagonal longer than the other, make minor adjustments until they are equal.
Step 6 – Glue Together
Apply glue to the joint cut. Then, lightly brush glue on each biscuit, front and back. Place the biscuit into the cut, and fit the wood together. As you are fitting pieces together, use a clamp to hold each piece firmly in place while the glue dries. Lay a spare piece of lumber between your face piece and the clamp to keep the clamp from leaving any marks.
After each piece has been glued, and the glue has been allowed to dry over night, your biscuit joiner work should be done!