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biscuit join 1/2" plywood drawers?

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  • biscuit join 1/2" plywood drawers?

    I just ordered a Porter Cable biscuit joiner. Can someone tell me if I can use biscuits to build drawers?

    I could build the drawers using various joints (lap, dovetails), but I did like to slap something together quickly using the biscuits.

    Thanks
    - Jimmy

  • #2
    Jimmy,
    Biscuits provide alignment, but the traditional wisdom says they don't add strength. In fact, some believe that they even weaken the joint.
    The adhesives we use today are stronger than the wood itself, so even a PVA adhesive (Elmer's White Glue) or an aliphatic resin (Yellow Glue) will perform well. You can use a butt joint, or increase the strength with a rabbeted joint or a rabbeted drawer lock joint. Assemble the joint and clamp or staple the components together, wait 24 hours for a cure.
    If this is for show, you can't beat dovetails, if it is for go, use a simpler joint.
    If it don\'t fit, force it. If it breaks, \'needed fixin\' anyhow. 8{~

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    • #3
      Used biscuits today...they don't turn corners well...stick with rabbets, dovetails or box joints.
      Kelly C. Hanna<br /><a href=\"http://www.hannawoodworks.com\" target=\"_blank\">Hanna Woodworks</a>

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      • #4
        The adhesives we use today are stronger than the wood itself, so even a PVA adhesive (Elmer's White Glue) or an aliphatic resin (Yellow Glue) will perform well. You can use a butt joint

        I disagree strongly with this. If the drawer box is made of solid wood, the joint is end grain to edge grain, which is a crappy joint at best. Add on that a drawer front gets incredible stress when opened (unless it is riding on high quality, well aligned slides), and I wouldn't expect such a joint to last more than a couple years, if it lasts at all. Wood is not a homogenous material, attempts to classify all joints without regard to grain direction are in error.

        Biscuits would be OK, I guess, in a drawer box. Most drawer styles I'm familiar with have a front that is wider than the box proper, and this is going to be a pain in the thigh to align up with a biscuit joiner.

        Dave

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        • #5
          Dave is absolutely correct, if you are using solid wood. But the name of this thread is biscuit join 1/2" plywood drawers.
          Solid wood with a butt joint is really sending mixed messages: Quality material, inferior joint.
          Again, you must consider the durabilty you are looking for. There is no benefit to building 25 year drawers to go into 10 year cabinets.
          When you said 1/2" plywood, I didn't think furniture quality, and biscuits implies ease and speed. A biscuit also means butt joint, because it is not a reinforcement.
          When I am looking for an inexpensive, but servicable drawer unit, I use a 5-ply plywood with adhesive (yellow glue) and mechanical fastener (staples). They have lasted for years when used with a good drawer slide unit.
          Solid wood with through dowels for reinforcements is an effective upgrade, and used by many manufacturers. A rabbeted joint, or a rabbeted drawer lock joint is much better.
          Heirloom quality, use a dovetail joint.
          Norm Abram uses biscuits on everything, but I've never seen him use a biscuit on a drawer.
          If it don\'t fit, force it. If it breaks, \'needed fixin\' anyhow. 8{~

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          • #6
            Agree with the other comments---add to it---with 1/2" plywood---you've got to recognize that the blade is cutting a pretty thick slot---you may have a biscuit between two pretty thing pieces of laminent (when going into the edge of ply'.

            FWIW---have built loads of drawers with ply and solid stock---1/2 and 3/4"----never used more than rabbets, glue and brads---and have some drawers in heavy usage---never had one fail yet.
            Dave

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            • #7
              But the name of this thread is biscuit join 1/2" plywood drawers.

              Ah, the old "hide valuable information in the subject" trick, huh? [img]redface.gif[/img]

              I still wouldn't trust the joint, but my objection is lessened. YGWYPF...

              Dave

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              • #8
                I have 6 file sized drawers out of 1/2" Melamine with the 1/4" bottom dadoed & slip fit in all the corners are biscuited together using Roo glue with the front screwed to the drawer box. I know this is different than plywood but thought it may help someone out there. The desk is about 4 years old & so far no problems. The drawers are full of former residents files for the last 10 years. Not to mention the extra boxes to hold the ones before that.

                [ 09-07-2003, 12:56 AM: Message edited by: VLL ]

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                • #9
                  VLL,

                  What do you mean "slip fit". I am not familiar w/ that term.

                  Thanks
                  - J

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