If you like to use power tools and already have the shop basics (table
saw, jointer, planer, bandsaw) the plate joiner or "biscuit joiner"
is one of the next tools to consider. It is one of the fastest ways to
put together a joint or to add strength to a butt joint or a edge glued
joint. If you are a dedicated hand tool user, a Galoot, or a traditionalist,
you may want to avoid this tool. Saying "I use biscuit joinery exclusively"
is not a statement that conjures up images of skilled craftsmen making
fine furniture. If you are more pragmatic rather than a woodworking romantic,
please read on.
The 7.5 Amp motor is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful
on the market. The powerful motor cuts the slots for the biscuits quickly.
I haven't timed how long it takes to make each slot but let's just say
speed isn't an issue. I've not cut in anything harder than hard maple
but I wouldn't anticipate any problems with harder exotic woods.
The fence on this unit works well. The surfaces that contact the wood
are machined for flatness. The micro adjuster works well as expected.
There is a marker on the side to take the guesswork out of height adjustment.
The fence will tilt between 0 and 135 degrees. This fence adjustment makes
angled joints very easy.
This tool comes with two cutter sizes, one for #0, #10, and #20 biscuits
and another for the FF size. These carbide cutters seem to be just fine.
Provided I don't drop them or hit any nails I don't anticipate I'll need
to sharpen them.
Porter Cable Biscuits
If there is a common gripe about biscuit joiners it seems to stem from
inconsistent biscuit thickness. I have only used Porter Cable biscuits,
so I'll include them as part of the review. Once I cut a few slots on
the board I usually dump out a handful of biscuit to start test fitting
the biscuit. This may sound unnecessary but in my experience, it helps
in glue up. If your biscuit is too thick you will have trouble fitting
the joint together, if it is too loose the joint is compromised and the
panel might not maintain the proper alignment. If other brands of biscuits
are better, please let me know. Although this method works for me.
For a little tool this thing can really scream. While it may share similar
dimensions to a drill it sounds more like a router with a little extra
gear noise. I don't put
I find that this tool spews out a lot more dust than I'd expect. It does
have a bag to catch it, but it is far from perfect in catching all of
the dust. I always wear safety glasses in the shop, but this tool reminds
me why more often than most tools. It is not uncommon to get a face full
of dust. The poor dust collection seems to come from a clogged 1"
dust chute. Since it is only dust/chips clogging the chute I believe this
part of the design could be improved.
Overall, this tool performs admirably and comes very close to a rating
of 5. It does what it is supposed to do and does that with ease (no complaints
on the slots). If the dust collection was improved a little and the biscuits
were more consistent thickness I would rate this a little higher.
Overall Rating 4 out of 6.
Buy the Porter Cable Plate Joiner