If you tend to make and assemble lots of furniture, shelving and cabinetry, frames, door and window trims or joineries, then you’re definitely going to need this tool, called the plate joiner.
Also known as “biscuit joiner,” a plate joiner is used to connect two pieces of wood together. It can be used in making edge-to-edge joints or perpendicular joints. Originally common only among cabinetmakers, plate joiners have become popular among DIY home hobbyists and carpenters thanks to the advent of reasonably-cost models that boast lots of useful features. Other reasons why plate jointers have become increasingly popular for home use are that they make joining two boards a lot easier, faster and safer, and making joints with this tool doesn’t also require extreme precision.
A plate joiner is a small power tool that can be easily handled, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space in a storage room or toolbox, compared to other tools such as a circular saw. Unlike other power tools that have more than one use, a plate joiner is designed to do only one function: to cut slots of boards to be joined together by a biscuit. This “biscuit” is a piece of football-shaped compressed chip which is originally made of beech, but is now made of various materials such as particle board or engineered wood. The biscuit is only slightly smaller than the slot that the plate joiner makes, so that it can fit snugly into that slot. This leaves the slot to have enough space for the glue, which is applied to further strengthen the biscuit joinery.
Types of biscuits – All plate joiners have at least three preset depth stops for all standard biscuit sizes. Some newer models have preset depth stops for specialty biscuits (measured in L x W x T inches)
1) #0 – The smallest biscuit (1-27/32" x 5/8" x 19/128") - ideal for joining smaller and narrower pieces of wood, or in areas where there is an anticipated lack of stress (such as framing and trim).
2) #10 – Medium-sized biscuit (2-1/8" x ¾" x 19/128") - since this is not too big nor not too small, this size is ideal in most types of projects.
3) #20 – The largest biscuit (2-3/8" x 1" x 19/128") - ideal for projects where there will be a lot twisting or weight involved, such as making beds. This biscuit is perfect if you work with certain materials such as pieces of plywood that need a lot of bond to join them together more securely. That's why one of the greatest advantages of using such biscuit is that you have an ample space in the slot to apply more glue to get more strength in your biscuit joinery.
A plane joiner has a 4-inch diameter circular saw that typically has six teeth. But there are models that have 10 teeth or even more. The blade is guided by the springloaded faceplate; when not in use, the blade is retracted as a safety feature.
In using the plate joiner, start by marking the location of the slots to be made into a piece of wood that you're about to cut. Next, set the machine's level adjustment (according to the depth of the wood) and then its cutter depth to determine how deep the slot you are about to cut into the wood. Firmly press the machine from behind to push it forward into the wood to make a cut.
Now that the predetermined slot has been cut into the wood, apply glue into the slot (or to the biscuit). Then insert the biscuit into the slot. The water in the glue causes the biscuit to expand inside the slot, fitting itself tightly into it and strengthening the joint even further. Continue making slots depending on how much biscuit joint you'll need.
Then bring the other end of the biscuit into the corresponding slot to join the two pieces of wood together. Remove any excess of glue.