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Porter Cable makes a nice, tough biscuit joiner.
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Biscuit Joiner - Porter Cable

   The first time I saw Norm Abram (New Yankee Workshop) use a biscuit joiner I knew I had to have one. It made so much sense, even without Norm's repeated praises of the system. With the wood we weekend woodworkers often have to deal with, a little extra strength and assistance aligning joints is always a good thing.

   Because everything in biscuit joining depends on alignment of the slots, I thought I should get the best tool I could find. Porter Cable came to mind when my in-laws asked what tool I wanted for Christmas. Come December, I had a shinny new Porter Cable biscuit joiner and was happily making big useless pieces of wood out of small useless pieces as I learned to use it.

   Despite the strength of biscuit joints it is important to remember that you cannot pull big warps out of a board with them, or anything else. A sizeable warp will almost always reappear when released from the clamps. However, small misalignments can be corrected, saving an otherwise good board.

   Between the biscuit joiner, my jointer and surface planer, I can actually make wide boards from narrow boards with seams even I am hard pressed to find.

     I found that very little practice was necessary to get the feel for the tool and start getting nice, clean and strong joints.  I did discover that the fence and base of my Porter Cable joiner adds up to just a bit more than 3/4-inch. The first glue ups I made came out with joints misaligned at different points along their length. Eventually I figured out what the problem was.

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(Current version)

   The base of the jointer was contacting the work surface when I cut slots in a single piece of 3/4-inch-thick wood laying directly on the bench. Once I learned to either have the edge of the wood protruding out over the edge of the bench, or elevated on another piece of wood to be sure the bottom of the joiners base was free, the joints began turning out perfectly.

UPDATE: I have to admit that I wanted this tool because I saw Norm Abram using one. After getting it in the shop, I have found it to be a great tool and use it all the time. It just does not make sense to edge join boards without adding a few biscuits, and this tool makes it easy to do. I have been using this tool for over four years and it is about time for a new blade. That will be the first part I have had to buy for it!

See our Tips & Tricks article on using a biscuit joiner!

See more Porter Cable Tools at www.portercable.com.

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