B is for Biscuit cutter
To join two pieces of wood together, you have only three options: use a glue joint (lap, half-lap, tongue-and-groove, angle groove, etc.), use a securing device (peg, wedge, block, screw, or a nail of some kind, such as a smooth-shank, ring-shank, wire-shank, grooved, twist, etc.) or shape the wood to lock against itself (dovetail joint, half-dovetail, mortise and tenon, etc.). Really strong joints use several of these methods, working together. There's an old woodworking adage: "the nails are just to hold it until the glue dries".
biscuit joint is a combination of all three of these methods. They are amazingly strong, tight, seamless joints, with no nail heads to hide, no complex cuts to make, resilient to flexure stress, and no fears of failure of the joint later on. When made properly, biscuit joints are so strong that the wood itself will crack and fail before the joint does.
Before I talk about the biscuit cutter, let me tell you about the biscuits. No, I don't mean the kind of biscuits you bake to a golden brown and slather with butter and jam. The biscuits I'm talking about are oval-shaped pieces of dried and compressed wood shavings (on the lower left in the photo). In a biscuit joint, two matching slots are made in the pieces to be mated. Wood glue goes onto the faces of the joint, into both slots and onto a biscuit. The biscuit is slipped into one slot, the other slot is lined up on the other side of the biscuit and the joint is clamped shut.
When the glue is dry, the joint is as solid as a rock. The biscuit absorbs moisture from the glue, expanding into both sides of the joint, adding LOTS of mechanical advantage to the grip. It not only holds the mated faces together, it prevents the joint from flexing, either laterally, obliquely or torsionally. The biscuit is completely hidden inside the joint, so there is no nail head to hide, no countersinks, slips, plugs or Dutchmen to add. Furthermore, since the biscuit is made of wood, you can drill through it during subsequent steps in construction, if need be.
Biscuit joints can be made at any angle. The biscuits themselves come in various sizes, suitable for projects from small to large. The DeWalt biscuit cutter pictured above has a big, scary blade that spins inside the housing. When it's pressed against the work, the blade plunges into the wood, cutting a perfect slot. Tiny teeth engage as it's pressed, which keep the face from slipping as the blade bites in. The front fence can be adjusted for angle, cut orientation, depth and height of cut, depending on the orientation of the joint you're making.
I love my biscuit cutter. It's one of those specialty tools that, once you finally buy one, open up entire new worlds of woodworking capability.
For my other posts about woodworking tools, follow this link.
link to read another blog in the A to Z Blogging Challenge!
||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.