Tools I use: My biscuit jointer

What the heck is up at the workbench?  First, it’s dowels, then I’m talking about biscuits?  Where are the hand cut  mortise and tenons?  The expertly executed blind half-lap London-pattern dovetails?

OK, everybody, take a step back and inhale deeply, count to ten and then exhale slowly repeating, “Serenity Now.”  I still love my hand tools and cutting classic joints, and my biscuit jointer is relegated to a few limited but very important tasks.

First, lemme tell you about my biscuit jointer.  It is a Ryobi model that I picked up at Home Depot many moons ago – I believe sometime about 2000 or 2001. You see, Norm used one in just about every project he built, and that convinced me that if I was ever going to build woodworking projects, I was going to need one of my own.  I chose this model because it was dirt cheap – for $99, it was a steal. And, I used it for a lot of tasks when I started out.

Did it get good ratings in the woodworking mags?  Nope.  Has it served me well?  You bet.

I would attach shelves in bookcases with it. I would build cabinet boxes with it. I built this sweet little shoe bench that sits by the front door that allows us a place to stash the shoes when we come in and gives us a place to sit and put them on before we leave. I built it back in 2002, and it has held up for the past nine years with nary a complaint, and it’s still as rock-solid as the day I built it.

As my skills developed, my reliance on the biscuit jointer started to wane. I learned how to cut dadoes and rabbets.  I got my Kreg pocket hole jig setup. I started using more and more mortise and tenon joints.

Today, my biscuit jointer comes out from time to time to help reinforce miters, attach solid wood edges to plywood panels and it makes an appearance when I do panel glue ups.  Did I mention that I have issues when I glue up panels?

Now that I am entering the next phase of the project assembly – creating the actual shelves that will hold the books and span the distance between the two frames – I’ll be using the biscuit jointer to help keep my shelves on an even plane when I glue up the shelf boards. I had to stop to check my supply of biscuits and yes, I have enough to do the shelves.

All I need now is some quality shop time with my old friend and a stack of boards, and we’ll take another big step together toward project completion.


5 thoughts on “Tools I use: My biscuit jointer”

  1. Good article Tom.
    I have a Ryobi biscuit cutter like yours but maybe one model below it…I think it was like $79!
    I use it a lot to do panel glue ups and it excels at that.
    (also because I got an insanely good deal on about a million different size biscuits from an on-line place).
    And, just like you, “Norm” talked me into getting one!

  2. I had an opportunity to buy a used Bosh at a good price but passed it up. Didn’t think I would use it enough to have another dust collector sitting on a shelf.
    I may be sorry later on down the line.


  3. Roger – The biscuit jointer is one of those tools you can do without… but it can help solve some problems….

  4. Yeah, that’s an older shot – we ripped that out and tiled back in ’08, but it was such a mess with shoes and sandals, I just grabbed the old shot to slide in there..

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