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12.08.2014
The following councils are required to order supplies from your council quartermaster: Bear Creek, Golden Bear, Golden Plains, Grand Rapids, Grand Valley, Greater Edmonton, Illiana, Niagara, NW Washington, Rush Creek, Southern California, and Three Rivers. ReviewsThere are no reviews yet, would you like to submit yours?Disclaimer: These are user reviews.
Fifty years ago, Swiss woodworker Hermann Steiner had a great idea and formed a company called Lamello to market the oval-shaped joining plates and the tools to cut the slots.
The Lamello is still the highest-priced machine in the category, selling for four to five times the price of other machines.
To make the average biscuit joiner perform at its peak, there are a few things to check and possibly adjust.
Every model is a little different, but generally you want to check that all the screws are tight and the motor slides freely on the base. Make a cut in some scrap, put a plate in the slot, then draw a pencil line where the plate meets the edge of the slot. With the machine ready to go, it’s time to make sure you understand how the tool works and what it’s good for. The most common mistake is allowing the machine to tilt as you cut the slot, preventing the parts from lining up properly. Turning a corner is a different story; with biscuits, you can make a simple butt joint in a case or box into a much stronger joint. In any type of joint, small errors in aligning the tool to the work as you set it in place, and as you make the cut, account for nearly all the problems you may encounter.
People tend to concentrate on two things that don’t matter and then ignore the most important part of the process. Now you have the tool set so that the cut is indexed both from the fence and from the base of the machine. It is also much easier to keep the machine flat by working from the base for as many cuts as you can. To make this jig, all you need is a flat piece of Medium-density Fiberboard (MDF) or plywood, a smaller piece screwed down to one corner, and a third piece below the front edge to act as a hook to your bench. If you need to make a joint in the middle of a piece, such as a fixed shelf in a cabinet, clamp a guide block in line with the location of the bottom of the shelf and make the cut by plunging vertically.
The other useless, obsessive activity people engage in is measuring the exact location of each slot. Most biscuit joiners have pins or some other device to prevent the machine from shifting sideways as the saw blade moves into the work.
When you’re ready, with the work firmly clamped and your hands on the tool, lock your arms before you pull the trigger.
Apply downward pressure with the hand that’s on the handle, and forward pressure with the other hand. Another effective way to make a cut without putting your hand at risk is to hook your thumb over the top of the handle, with your fingers at the top of the fence.
When you make a cut vertically at the edge of a board, only a portion of the tool is in contact with the wood, and the weight of the machine is almost all beyond where the cut will be made.
I extend any registration marks so that I’m lining up the cut with the base of the machine, not the front.
If you’re plunging horizontally you might want to remove the bag, but going vertically the exhaust chute will be aimed at your face. Since most common woodworking glues are water based, this swelling occurs right after assembly. To keep from tilting the machine when making a vertical cut, extend your pencil marks so you’re lining up with the center mark on the base, not on the fence.
The downside to this is that the plates can swell enough when exposed to damp humid air to make insertion difficult or impossible. If you’re just getting used to biscuit joining, or haven’t used your machine in a while, it pays to make a dry-run assembly to make certain that everything fits together the way you want it to.
If you have a miscut slot, you won’t be able to make an adjustment without making the slot too wide. Most of the weight of the tool is off the work, so it’s easy to tilt it in that direction as you plunge. When the biscuit goes in, I’m looking for the glue to coat the sides of the plate without squeezing out all over the place. I put the bead of glue for the other slot of the joint on the biscuit plate, as seen below right instead of in the empty slot.


In addition to being messy, there is another negative consequence to using too much glue on the biscuits. The joining plates are usually compressed by machine when they are made, and swell up as water from the yellow or white glue enters the biscuit. The biscuit joiner may not be the best choice for every situation, but it does deserve a place in almost any woodshop. This plate was soaked in water, and after an hour it ended up at its pre-compressed thickness.
After inserting the plate in the slot, apply the glue for the second half of the joint on the biscuit.
There are several sizes of biscuits available, but the #20 (at the bottom) is by far the most commonly used. The inventor coined the term “holzlamelle,”  a combination of the German word for wood, and the French word for thin strip or plate. When we go from German to English, this is one of the places where there is a difference between American English and British English. When first imported to the United States, the name  was translated with the British usage, and we adopted the term biscuit. Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years. Once your order is shipped, you will be emailed the tracking information for your order’s shipment.
The ability to make relatively strong joints quickly and easily makes this a tool you really must have.
The truth is that most woodworkers don’t know the right techniques to make the most of their biscuit joiners, and there are some common attitudes and assumptions that hurt more than help, and don’t speed things up. Biscuit joints won’t make your friends and family ooh and aah over your skills, but they will help you locate and connect parts without much fuss so you can get on to more important things.
I first saw one in 1981 when the German-born foreman of the cabinet shop I was working in brought out a new toy he called a cookie cutter. In a production environment the investment is worthwhile, but if you’re not using it on a daily basis, the lower-priced models will likely meet your needs. Insert it in a slot and mark a pencil line at the intersection of the plate and the edge of the material. You also get the benefit of having the parts line up at assembly – if your technique is sound. It’s common to think that the machine is so easy to use that you can’t go wrong, but like any other joint, the care you take setting it up and cutting it make all the difference. Attach the jig firmly to your bench with a clamp or a few screws, and mount a hold-down toggle clamp as shown above.  This will hold your work safely, letting you keep both hands on the machine and it gives you a flat reference surface for the base of the tool. The guide registers the cut, and lets you use the broad face of the tool to hold it steady while you make the cut. If you try to hold the work with one hand and plunge the tool with the other, you’re giving away half the control you have. This tends to be self-defeating as you’re still likely to tilt the tool as you make the plunge. Make the cut by shifting your weight forward from one leg to the other.  If you keep your arms immobilized while plunging, you won’t tilt the tool as you make the cut. Take a moment to make sure the fence is flat on the work and the face of the tool is against the edge you want to cut before you turn on the motor. When you place the tool on the work, push down with the hand on the handle before pushing in with the hand on the barrel. From this position, you can plunge the cutter into the work by squeezing the fence and handle together.
Most machines have a dust bag, but these tend to clog in the narrow chute between the blade and the bag. If you’re using a glue that doesn’t contain water, such as polyurethane, there won’t be any water present to swell the biscuit. If you need to make a correction, you don’t want to try to do it with your glue drying and biscuit plates swelling. I put a bead of glue at the top of each side of the slot, staying about 1?2″ away from the ends. If you put a plate in a glued slot and immediately pull it back out, you’ll be able to see if you are applying the right amount of glue.


This keeps the glue from running out of the slots when the piece is turned over for assembly.
The moisture in the glue has to go somewhere, and as the plate swells this moisture migrates into the surrounding wood.
If you plane, sand or scrape the surface above the biscuit without waiting for the glue to thoroughly dry and the excess moisture to evaporate, you can end up with biscuit-shaped depressions in a day or so. You want to coat the surface of the plate without having excessive glue squeeze-out, or introducing too much moisture in the interior of the joint. This will keep glue from running out of the slots as you put the second piece in place and apply the clamp.
A British tax case defined biscuits and cookies based on if they get hard or soft when they go stale. You can choose your preferred shipping method on the Order Information page during the checkout process. Yet many woodworkers find it frustrating; for some reason the joints never quite line up and in the end it doesn’t seem to save that much time.
But if you drive to the tool store in a Mercedes or BMW, you won’t regret buying the Lamello. If you’re joining two pieces of solid wood edge to edge to make a panel, the main benefit of the biscuit is to align the parts.
If you’re off by even a tiny amount however, the error will be doubled, and you’ll likely do more harm than good. You’re far better off to set the fence by placing the tool on a flat surface, putting a piece of the material you plan to use next to it, and lowering the fence until it touches the top face of the material.
There is in fact a big advantage to having the slot offset; it ensures that the face you want to show won’t be hidden by accident.
The jig  shown above right will hold the work flat for you and provide a flat surface for the base of the machine.
It won’t make any difference in the finished joint if there is some variation in the distance from plate to plate. It also introduces some risk; you’re putting your hand in the path of a spinning saw blade. This will keep the pins from engaging before you have the fence or base of the tool all the way down. I push down with the hand on the barrel of the tool, and in with the hand on the handle as seen below. It’s still a good idea to use the bag, even though you’ll need to stop and clean it periodically. When the plate gets wet, the wood swells up, resulting in a tighter joint, as seen above right. A light mist of water sprayed on the plate, or a swipe with a damp rag just before inserting the biscuit in the slot will ensure that the plate swells. I look at the way the grain runs on the plate, and use a chisel pointed “uphill” to split it off just above the surface, then I trim it back to flush with a paring cut with the chisel. If it’s solid wood, and the slot is near the surface, the surface of the wood can swell directly above the biscuit. You can prevent this by avoiding excess glue and waiting at least overnight for any assembly to dry before further processing. To me, a biscuit is thick and fluffy, not thin and hard, and I was introduced to the tool as a cookie cutter. This allows the two parts to join snugly while giving you a bit of room for lateral adjustment during assembly. The joint is strong enough as it is, and adding biscuits may introduce additional problems as well as make extra work.
And again, the variation in the locations will prevent you from putting parts together in a way you don’t want them. Accidents with biscuit joiners are rare, but if you put your hand on the handle you gain better control and you eliminate the risk of injuring yourself entirely. Because of the swelling of the plate, the joint will stay together after a short time in the clamps.



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