View Full Version : wood joinery
09-25-2001, 04:45 PM
I know there's lots of sawdust experience in this board, so I seek advice from the sages. To biscuit or not to biscuit? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to dovetail or bead joinery or whatever...or to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...(sorry Hamlet). What say yea 'bout the pros of one method over the other to join cabinet sides? Boards to make a plank (My husband may be using that plank if he doesn't stop bugging me 'bout my wood collection. Some women drool over diamonds, I drool over a well planed and joined piece of mahogany...or red oak...or poplar...or cedar...or...
09-25-2001, 06:32 PM
Alas, poor joynt, I knew him well... sorry :)
Personally, I rarely use biscuits, but understand, that is just my preference. A good glue joint will actually be stronger than the surrounding wood, even with no joining method.
Most joinery methods perform two functions: First is to align the edges, the second is to add more glue surface. The biscuit does the same for you.
There are some "traditionalists" who argue that biscuits are inferior to the "old methods" but those folks are cutting their tongues and grooves with power tools. :)
My advice is this: Get a biscuit attachment for your router. This is slow, but allows you to try biscuits for about $30.00
If you like them, invest in a good quality biscuit joiner.
Hope this helps,
09-25-2001, 07:15 PM
Thanks, Ralph. I always wondered what Orick's last name was: Orick Joynt :-)
09-25-2001, 08:58 PM
I just used a couple of biscuit joiners for the first time last week (cabinetry class at the local community college), in two joints: butt at the back of the kick board (this kick/toe plate is actually a pedestal on which the cabinets are mounted) and miters at the front of the kick board. Left to my own devices, I would have used M&T instead; but given the joints used, they were a good mechanism.
I'd recommend getting a portable, much more versitile in a non-production environment.
Biscuits do very little to make a joint stronger. There main purpose is to help in aligning the boards. If you are just edge glueing some boards to make a wider board then go ahead and use the biscuits, or if you do not already have a biscuit joiner then you could make slots in the edge of the boards with a table saw or router with a slot cutter bit and use a spline from plywood or biscuits.
As for other joints it will all depend on what tools you have, will it be seen, exactly what part is being attached to what, and the list can go on. Every situation has its own best solution with others that will also work.
Good Bye and work safely
09-26-2001, 01:16 AM
I think the type of joint to use is determined be what you are making. I use biscuits almost exclusively for case work when using plywood or mfd. But if I'm building a piece that I would consider heirloom quality then a more traditional joint makes more sense. I think it show a little more craftsmanship, and a t&g or slideing dovetail is stronger than biscuit. more glue area.
just my thoughts.
09-26-2001, 08:16 AM
While I'm not a real sage, I do like parsley. :-)
I feel about the same as the earlier responses. I use biscuits a lot but also mortise and tenon, dovetails, dadoes, spline and groove, etc., etc. and etc.. It all depends on several factors.
When I'm gluing up boards to make panels, I use biscuits for alignment. It also doesn't hurt that they swell up a bit after moisture gets to them unless you have them too close to the edge of the boards face. For cabinetry projects I like biscuits because they are quick and dirty. Where strength is a determining factor, I try to use the appropriate joint for the occasion.
There's nothing wrong with using biscuit joinery. It does have its advantages at times. While it's not as strong as a good old mortise and tenon joint, it's a lot easier and quicker and, contrary to what some believe, does provide some strength.
10-01-2001, 03:13 PM
Thanks for responding. I know not enough of woodworking to know when one type of joinery is preferred over the other. My limitations are to some cabinetry, so biscuits seemed easiest, I think. I think dovetails are for the drawers, ie, kitchen cabinets; am I correct? When would mortise and tenon bump biscuits? Does type of wood matter? Oak? Teak? Poplar?
10-01-2001, 10:31 PM
Late in the show, but ready to ope with the others...
I bought a fifty-dollar biscuit joiner several years ago from Harbor Freight (Harbor Fright for some), and it was surprisingly well-built. I've used it, ahem, all of twice, when I simply had to use biscuits because nothing else would do the job. Upshot: I don't like 'em. In my shop, they get used for nothing except that ONE thing they really shine at, and that's to align two boards edge-to-edge for glueup into a panel. Then no more biscuits than are really needed for alignment.
To answer your questions of the day - Dovetails are indeed for drawers, IMO front AND rear. They're also for carcase joinery, or almost anytime you join two panels at 90-degree angles to each other - unless you're just whacking something together and you don't care much if it lasts or not. Or unless you're working plywood, which dovetails miserably.
Further in my opinion, M&T joints ALWAYS bump biscuits if M&T is appropriate - such as joining two sticks in stickwork or joining an apron to legs in a table or any of a veritable plethora of other applications where one might use M&T. Type of wood makes no difference at all, except in the case of manufactured wood products such as plywood or MDF. Neither does M&T very well. Hardwoods and softwoods alike, when they're in the natural-grain state, are perfectly suited for M&T joints as long as the joint is appropriate for the application.
Two cents, please. :)
-- Tim --
10-02-2001, 06:20 AM
Mortise and tenon would bump biscuits in many instances. If you were building a true reproduction of an old piece of furniture or cabinetry, this would be a sure place for M&T. Any time a truely strong joint is needed, M&T would be the best choice. I think it was Fine Woodworking that did an article not too long ago that compared the strength of these joints. Their conclusion, if I remember right, was that M&T was the stronger joint. Of course, not all M&T joints are created equal which translates to - if the proportions aren't right, it doesn't end up being as strong as it could be.
I don't see where the species of wood matters. I think it really depends on the application and what stresses the joint will be under. As others have already stated, biscuits are great for alignment. However, I believe the FWW article also mentioned a biscuit joint did provide some strength.
In my mind there are times when only a M&T joint is the thing to use. I've even pegged them to help insure the joints security. Then there are those times when a biscuit joint will be sufficient. After all, the glue is really doing the main work of holding things together.
10-02-2001, 01:10 PM
While I tend to agree that a M&T joint is very strong if done right, its not the only type of joint for use. When joining skirts or apron boards to a corner board, i.e. leg, a sliding dovetail will work very well. It can't be pulled apart along the direction of the grain, far more glue area, not much harder to master than a good M&T joint.
An exposed dovetail of at least 50% of the apron board into the corner boardprovides a very storng and attractive joint.
My point being the M&T joint is not the only appropreate or the strogest joint.
Just my opinion
10-02-2001, 08:17 PM
I would have to agree with you. In fact, there are always choices for any of the joints that we could use in a given situation. I know when I was limited in my knowledge and experience, I went with what I knew at the time. As time passed and I tried new joinery, my arsenal expanded.
10-05-2001, 06:00 PM
Thanks for responding. Most usefulinformation. Don't you just love it when rookies seek advice. Sorry, no got 2 sents. Platitudes and gratitude must suffice.
10-05-2001, 06:02 PM