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Biscuit or floating tendon?

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  • Biscuit or floating tendon?

    The biscuit plate joinery seems to be obsolete with the newer floating tenon method.
    I also notice dowel pins seem to also be obsolete.

    I guess the Rockler beadlock joinery system has also lost favor with wood workers,
    or just never caught on.

    The various TV DIY shows simply show the tools donated by the manufacturer for free
    advertising? This Old house has moved to the floating tenon. Norm Abrams started out with the
    infamous biscuit.....

    I guess the biscuit method was mainly for alignment of boards etc.
    The floating tenon method does add some structural strength to the connection.
    Dowel pins .. well maybe we are just too lazy to drill two holes, unless for cosmetic reasons.

    The Rockler beadlock system.. well I have the kit with the router bit and make my own loose tenons.

    So what is the method of joinery choice that you use?

    Gosh, I still like my Porter Cable biscuit joiner... it's big, heavy, and made in USA.
    I even have to original blue Ryobi mini biscuit joiner....and plenty of small biscuits.

    Cactus Man

  • #2
    I guess I'm just old fashioned, in that I use dowels or biscuits.

    Decades ago, when my parents moved us out to the country, we had a lot of old furniture that my Mom and Dad bought when he came back from the war. After we moved to the country, that stuff was a dozen or so years old and they decided to modernize. Trash pickup wasn't the way it is now and so the common practice was that if you couldn't give it away, you broke it up and disposed of it. I took notice even at a young age (I was ten when we moved) of how things were built. The old wooden leg porcelen steel top kitchen table and all the chairs were dowel fitted, as were some of the living room pieces, under all that mohair fabric and stuffing. Drawers of course, and much of the carcus, of bedroom furniture were dovetailed. I'm sure there were exceptions, but that is what I remember.

    By the time I was in highschool, that kind of construction was still in good practice, and so it was when we bought our own furniture when my wife and I married in 67'.

    So, I naturally built the few things I made with dowels. It was easy, inexpensive, and really required no special tools except some decent drill bits (I prefer bradpoints). I didn't have a drillpress back then, but I made my own guide from a block of hardwood and I bought a 'Portalign' drill guide which helped a bit. Not too long after, I added a set of those metal dowel points which you set in the first hole and that allows you to perfectly pinpoint the mating piece. I like dowels, they're simple and strong.

    But simpler still, IMO, is the 'biscuit' or 'plate' joiner. When we bought our present home we decided to build the library in what was an overly large second floor bedroom. A room off the back of that became the "cookbook" room. In both rooms I built a number of book cases and window seats with storage shelves beneath. I don't like plywood, it's heavy and the edge dressing a pain. So, I joined standard board stock to make any wider flat surfaces, like the table top and window seat platforms. After reading some commentary here I decided that I'd venture a purchase of a Ryobi plate-joiner and for me that proved perfect for edge jointing boards.

    That was about twelve or so years ago, and I have yet to see any signs of separation or splitting. The process was easy, required little investment, and everything has held together quit well.

    I thought of buying a "Dominoe" at one time. I'm sure they are great, but I didn't see how I was going to justify the expense and at this point in my life dowels and biscuits work just fine for me. BTW, I don't like screws for assembly fastening, and prefer to keep my woodworking just wood and glue. I leave the metal to dress hardware, hinges, etc.

    Last edited by CWSmith; 08-29-2021, 02:20 PM. Reason: Poor typing and punctuation corrections


    • #3

      "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
      "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"


      • #4
        I used biscuits on one project so far - a large entertainment center which I built many years ago. It is pretty sturdy. Since then a lot of my projects use mortise and tenon joinery although I'm about to build a plywood cabinet and thinking about using biscuits for that. So for me it varies and depends on the project - some projects are based off someone's design or a plan from a magazine in which case I follow what they did.


        • #5
          A number of years ago, I had to make several pieces of commercial furniture for HP, yep, Hewlett Packard. It was for the briefing center in Cupertino, CA. It was all reconstituted wenge veneer on mdf. Basically, all mitered edges with vertical and horizontal dividers. All of the dividers were assembled with biscuits and white glue. When everything was completed, it was shipped from Northern VA to Cupertino. As far as I know, the furniture was used for many years and held up well. Point being, when used correctly, biscuits are more than adequate.


          • #6
            I also have a blue Ryobi biscuit jointer and have used it .. I believe it cuts 3 different size biscuits ... A few years ago I needed a screen door that was a oddball size for my porch .. I have in the past purchased store made doors and they all seem to sag after a couple of years .

            So what I did was made my own with long dowels that after disassembling a folding clothes rack used the 1/2" rods for the dowels .. Used a couple straight 2 x 6 's and used 3 long dowels and a brad point bit with a drill guide to face butt it together at each joint .. Been about 4 years and it's held up .

            Click image for larger version

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            • CWSmith
              CWSmith commented
              Editing a comment
              That looks great! I agree with you about so-called "store-made" doors. I'm not sure where they are made, but they don't seem to be all that sturdy, from my limited experience.

              My Ryobi router is a model JM82 and it did the job for me. I'm thinking I ought to look for a new cutter blade, if they haven't been obsoleted or discontinued by now.


              ps, The post prompted me to look for a new blade for my JM82 and I ordered a spare Thanks for the post.
              Last edited by CWSmith; 08-30-2021, 11:54 AM.