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Best Biscuit Joiner

Biscuit joiners, more properly called “plate joiners” are one of the most innovative woodworking tools to hit the market in a long time. While it seems like new power tools are popping up all over the place, none has had the impact of the biscuit joiner. Although originally frowned upon by die hard woodworking traditionalists, the fact of the matter is that this is such an effective joining system, that any serious woodworker who builds things bigger than a bird feeder needs to add one to their collection.

Before the invention of the biscuit joiner by Lamello (see our #1 pick) woodworkers had to use dowels for edge connecting boards together. If you’ve ever tried doweling boards together, especially without a horizontal boring drill (something very hard to come by), aligning it so that it comes out well is a real challenge.

The biscuit joiner uses a 4” diameter carbide tipped blade to precision cut a slot into the edge of the wood. The fence insures accurate positioning and depth, so that the boards will connect together at exactly the correct height. The actual connection is made with a pressed hardwood “biscuit” (hence the name) which is actually a pressed plywood disk. This provides for a very easy, yet strong connection.

By angling the fence, the same system can be used to invisibly join carcases (for dressers) and cabinet cases with mitered corners.

A good biscuit joiner needs to be of rigid construction, more than anything else. The fence needs to be solid, like with any power cutting tool, to ensure that it won’t move against the workpiece. Rails need to be well fitted with the bearings, so that there isn’t any wobble. Finally, the adjustment of the fence for angle, position and depth is important, to insure accuracy of your work.

Biscuit joiners hit the market at about $800 dollars per unit. That pretty much put them out of the realm of anybody but professionals. While there are still professional units around that will cost that much, or even more as you’ll see in this list, others have simplified the design of the biscuit joiner, bringing the price down. Any of these tools shown will do a quality job for you. What you’re buying with a more expensive unit is life expectancy and adjustment accuracy, more than anything else. So, if you’re running a cabinet shop, you’ll want to buy a high-dollar biscuit joiner; but if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may want to take a look at the less expensive units.

Lamello Top 21 800-Watt Biscuit Joiner

Lamello invented the biscuit joiner and is still the standard that everyone strives for. They spare no expense to insure that they are providing the best possible tool, with heavy duty, precision everything. Everything from the fence to the bearings on this unit is heavy-duty, guaranteeing years of long life in any professional woodworking shop. Lamello’s unit has more detents and a finer adjustment for depth of cut and fence position than anyone else, with steps at 0.1mm; nobody else does that. They've also increased their motor size to 800 watts, making it the biggest motor ever put on a biscuit joiner.

Festool 574432, XL DF 700 Domino Joiner

As usual, Festool puts out a top quality product. This is a larger version of their well-known Domino XL Joiner. It has a maximum tenon size of about five and a half inches. Like their other tools, this one is designed to work directly with a dust collection system. Considering how much dust a biscuit joiner can make, that’s a nice way to work. The cutting action on this one is a combination of rotating and oscillating, which makes clean repeatable mortise cuts every time. Easy adjustment of the mortise width at the turn of a dial. It comes with optional trim and cross stops for narrow stock and edge joining.

Makita 3901 5.6 Amp Plate Joiner

Makita is one of the top professional power tool companies today. Their biscuit joiner lives up to everything one would expect of their quality tool design and manufacturing. The vertical fence comes with a rack and pinion adjustment, for smooth, accurate, repeatable adjustment. Adjustments are protected with cam locks. Six different preset depth settings are available. To protect the workpiece, they've installed a rubber strip in the fence, a nice touch.

Porter-Cable 557 Plate Joiner Kit

At 7.0 amps, this Porter Cable biscuit joiner is the heaviest duty unit we’ve listed. Even Lamello’s 800 watt motor isn’t as powerful as that. The greater power should equal longer life, especially if you’re cutting hardwoods regularly. The fence tilts up to 135 degrees, with a stop at 90 degrees. There’s a micro adjustable knob for height adjustment and 7 depth stops, making it the top unit in that category as well. Oh, and Porter Cable wants to make sure you can keep on cutting, so they supply you with 2 blades, instead of the 1 that everyone else does.

DeWalt DW682K Heavy Duty 6.5 Amp Plate Joiner

When DeWalt started their climb to regain their reputation as a manufacturer of quality professional power tools, they knew they had their job cut out for them. Well, as far as I’m concerned, they've made it. The tools that DeWalt’s been putting out over the last several years, show careful design and robust manufacturing. Building tools that professionals can use with pride, and with the expectancy that they’ll survive the rough environment of the workplace. DeWalt is so confident about their quality that they've put a 3 year warranty on this unit. That says a lot in and of itself. It comes with all the standard features and a 6.5 amp motor, the most common size in these quality biscuit joiners.

Rich the Tool Man

Before embarking on the current stage of my life, I spent 15 years as a Manufacturing Engineer in both the medical equipment field (medical electronics) and automotive engineering (city transit buses). After that, I owned a small construction company, mostly doing residential remodeling and commercial tenant finishes. I am no longer in either of these fields, but still get my hands plenty dirty as a consummate do-it-yourselfer; working on everything from remodeling my own home to rebuilding my car’s engines. My hobby (when I can find the time) is woodworking; making everything from toilet paper holders, to shelves, to music stands for my own home. My wife long ago gave up the idea that a two car garage is for parking two cars; it is my workshop.

While I cannot claim to having worked professionally with all types of tools, I have worked professionally with some. This comes from my previous careers, where I had to specify, buy and at times live with those decisions. Additionally, I would have to say that my engineering background has given me a thorough understanding of the construction of such tools. So, while I may not have used a particular type of tool personally, I have the knowledge to cut through all the advertising hype and statistics; in order to get at the truth of how well a tool will operate and last.

In my current career as a writer, I've written over 90 books. This includes my own titles and those I've written on contract. I've also written a complete website on how to build your own home.

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