Edit: Turns out I’m the only person ever not to have heard of a biscuit jointer. You should read on and comment on my noobish-ness anyway.
At first this post was supposed to be a short “I love this tool”, but it kind of turned into a tutorial. You may have heard of this tool, and know everything there is to know about it, in which case, I’m wasting your time.
Today I started on my Dad’s kitchen renovation. After ripping off the old arborite, trim and tiling, it was time to make some forward progress.
First on the list was to apply the 3/4″ maple trim to the edge.
My Dad’s friend, who is a professional carpenter, recommended I use a biscuit jointer to attach the trim. I have never in my life heard of it before, but I decided to give it a shot. Turns out it’s absolutely awesome!
(Avoiding all edibility jokes) A biscuit is a small piece of wood about 1/8 ” thick of varying width/length.
Regarding the tool itself, a small (4″) blade is mounted horizontally inside the biscuit jointer. When pressure is applied to the front edge/guide, the blade glides out and is exposed to the material. Before starting, it must be adjusted to the proper depth and height for the material. In this case, the counter top is 3/4″ thick, so the jointer is set up to penetrate at the midpoint; 3/8″. The penetration depth must be set up for slightly more than half the width of the biscuits being used. In this case the depth was set to about 1/2″. Now I know this probably sounds like nonsense, it will make sense in a minute.
A shot of the trim-less counter top:
Once the length of maple was cut to shape, it was time to prep for the jointer. There is an easy way of determining where both pieces of wood should be jointed. Holding the maple carefully in place, and drawing a small pencil line (5″ away from the edge) across both pieces gives an exact point where the jointer should be used on both sides. Subsequent pencil marks were made approx. 10″ apart down the length of wood.
I applied the jointer to the counter top. It was convenient that the person who used the tool previously left a red mark at the center, where max. depth of the blade occurs.
Using the jointer is actually extremely simple. Holding the tool off the wood, turn it on. Once it gets up to speed in about half a second, slowly and flushly (I don’t think that is a word, but I like it) set the guide onto the table, and then push in a forward motion so the blade enters the material. Then pull it out and do the next joint, or turn it off. Repeat on the other piece of wood.
The result is a nice little slit. It will hold half of the biscuit.
I found it easiest to apply the wood glue to the maple, including inside of the slits, then gently tapping the biscuits into their slits with a rubber mallet (doing it on the fixed counter top would cause the glue to run). Apply glue to the rest of the biscuit and quickly apply the entire assembly to the counter.
I was aware of other methods of jointing such as drilling holes and using wooden dowel, but I always find those methods very”finicky”, especially when all I need precision. One screw up and you have to drill an entire series of new holes. With this method, the two materials will ALWAYS be jointed perfectly flush to each other, and there is just the right amount of horizontal play to get things aligned perfectly with a mallet.
And the result is a nail-less, perfectly flush trim that is incredibly solid (much stronger than if it were applied using nails or screws).
And now to take a break and drink a coke before applying the arborite. I wish I could learn how to pour pop correctly.