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Porter Cable Plate Joiner

Specifications
Motor: 7.5 Amp
Price Paid: $180
Rating:

 

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Review

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.

Motor
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.

Fence
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.

Cutters
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.

Noise
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

Dust
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

 

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