Fine Furniture with Biscuit Joints
For much better results, anchor the tool, not the workpiece
Synopsis: Are you biased against biscuits? It might be time to take another look. Michael Fortune has, and he’s learned that they are great for joining the rails and stiles of a face frame, attaching a solid-wood frame around a veneered panel, tabletop, or door, joining a leg to a veneered panel, and other uses. Biscuits also let him build adventurous furniture that would be difficult with traditional joinery. Wait, you argue: Biscuit joiners are inaccurate, they jerk sideways when you start a cut, and they jump around when you’re trying to use them. You need to try Fortune’s solution, and attach your joiner to a shopmade table. It might just change your attitude about biscuit joints.
If you ask a furniture maker about joinery for fine furniture, you’re sure to hear about dovetails, mortises, tenons, dadoes, and even rabbets. But I’d be surprised if biscuits were mentioned, unless only to explain how they have no place in high-end work. That’s a shame, because there are some joints where a biscuit is the best solution. They’re great for joining the rails and stiles of a face frame, attaching a solid-wood frame around a veneered panel, tabletop, or door, or joining a leg to a veneered panel. Biscuits also let me build more adventurous furniture that would be difficult with traditional joinery.
Perhaps the biggest reason why biscuits have been dismissed by many furniture makers is that biscuit joiners seem incapable of accuracy. The cutter’s rotation has a tendency to jerk the machine sideways when you start the cut. Also, biscuit joiners can be difficult to hold and they have small fences, so they jump around and lift off the work. However, I’ve found a great solution to all of these problems: Turn your…