Understanding Biscuit and Pocket-Hole Joinery

Dec 31


Mallory Kramer

Mallory Kramer

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Biscuit and pocket-hole joinery are techniques used to join two pieces of wood together. Biscuit joints involve the insersion of a specially shaped wood piece into an identically shaped slot cut into two pieces of wood. Pocket-hole technology joins two workpieces by drilling angled holes into one piece and joining it to another with a self-tapping screw. Each method offers unique features and benefits to improve the integrity of your joints.


As craftsmen build furniture and cabinets the question of joinery methods hangs over the heads of many professionals - each of them striving to achieve the perfect joint. For strength,Understanding Biscuit and Pocket-Hole Joinery Articles durability, and speed, there are many techniques of wood joinery to choose from. The popular methods of biscuit, or plate joinery, and pocket-hole joinery provide powerfully strong joints in simple and reliable processes. Each technique provides their own set of features to form your joints better.

Biscuit or plate joinery involves the insertion of a biscuit into an oval, or crescent shaped slot that is cut into opposite edges of two pieces of wood. Biscuits are pre-cut, oval-shaped pieces of compressed wood that range in size from 1/2in to 2-1/4in in length. There are also biscuits available in plastic, aluminum, and steel for special applications, generally however, wood biscuits are the most prominently used. Biscuits (dabbed with glue) are inserted into specially cut slots in the wood that are shaped identically to the biscuit, the two pieces of wood are clamped together to set, and thus form a strong, durable joint. The biscuits also tend to soak up the glue applied to them before insertion which causes them to swell and make the joint tighter, and stronger. Porter Cable, DEWALT, and Makita each offer high quality plate joiners with unique, and individual features to help meet your needs, and build your joints better.

Porter Cable offers a Deluxe Plate Joiner Kit with a powerful 7.5 amps and 10,000 rpm. This joiner has many features that simplify the joining process, including: a precise micro height-adjustment knob to keep biscuits exactly centered, and a 1in O.D. (outer diameter) dust port that works with standard bags or can simply hook up to a vacuum. The DW682K has a fence tilt of 0 to135 degrees with a positive adjustable stop at 90 degrees; additionally, the bale handle is attached to the fence (rather than the motor) for increased stability and control while cutting. The joiner also has a lock-on trigger for continual use and a supremely accurate (at any angle) hight scale to precisely measure positions. Porter Cable's plate joiner has seven-position rotating depth stop to accommodate a variety of biscuit sizes and depths, and a spindle lock mechanism for simple blade changes. For standard and face-frame biscuits, Porter Cable's Deluxe Plate Joiner Kit includes both 2in and 4in diameter blades. The kit also includes a centering plate, dust bag, a chip deflector, allen wrench, and a carrying case for portability and convenience.

DEWALT offers a similar Heavy-Duty Plate Joiner with 6.5 amps and no load speed of 10,000 rpm; tough enough to work through even the hardest wood. To ensure the most accurate joints, the DW682K features a dual rack and pinion system that keeps the blade and fence always parallel as you work - every time. The one piece fence is also adjustable with a 0-90 degree tilt, and, at zero degrees, a flush cut can be made without removing the fence. Additionally, the fence has a locating notch at 45 degrees that allows indexing off the outside surface of a mitered joint: in other words, the fence has a positive lock at 45 degrees to keep your joints always accurate. The joiner, having a no mar, heavy-duty aluminum shoe, can be clamped down to work surfaces for stationary work - and has retractable, anti-slip pins to help hold your work in place, and preset depth stops for all common biscuit sizes. DEWALT's joiner kit comes with a carbide blade, dust bag, a vacuum adapter, Torx key, wrench, and a heavy-duty kit box for security. The DW682K comes with DEWALT's one year free service contract, and a three year limited warranty.

Makita also provides an excellent option in biscuit joinery. Their 3901 plate joiner runs on 5.6 amps, and with a no load speed of 10,000 rpm. Although with slightly less amps, the tool is strong enough to make the tight, and lasting joints craftsmen expect from biscuit joinery. Makita's joiner has a one-touch 6 depth setting that allows for immediate depth change when working, and accommodates most common biscuit sizes. Makita's 3901 also features a shaft lock for fast, simple blade changes, and easy to operate cam locks for added security. With a cast aluminum pivot fence with positive stops at 0, 45, and 90 degrees the joiner is always accurate and precise, and is designed to quickly and simply make strong and durable plate joints. The tool has a maximum cut depth of 25/32in, a large top grip handle, no mar rubber strip insert, and is double insulated for additional security/safety on the job. Makita's 3901 plate joiner includes a carbide tipped blade (4in in diameter), an angle guide, dust bag, lock nut wrench, set plate, inner flange, lock nut, and a plastic tool case for convenience and portability. The tool is just over a foot long and weighs 6.2 lbs.

Pocket-hole technology involves drilling an angled hole into one workpiece and joining it to another with a self-tapping screw. This process eliminates tedious drilling applications, and provides a fast, strong joint in which the screw acts as a permanent internal clamp pulling and holding two workpieces together. Kreg offers a Jig Master System specifically designed for pocket-hole joinery. The K3MS is effectively two tools in one having interchangeable drill guide blocks that can shift between benchtop and portable bases. The tool has an easy access, spring-loaded, front-side clamp that eliminates reaching around big panels to get to your toggle clamps; it keeps everything within arms reach so you can maintain speed and greater ease on the job.

To help you perfectly place your pocket-holes in a variety of widths and thicknesses Kreg offers a three-hole drill guide with a hardened steel core. This steel core also protects bits by keeping them completely covered, and supports work pieces throughout the entire drilling process. This technology reduces bit deflection and tear-out, and provides a clean, smooth, and pluggable pocket-hole. Kreg's jig also has a material support stop that can be set at any distance from the jig enabling you to repeat the same pocket-hole numerous times. This stop can also swing or flip out of the way to act also as a height support for large panels. Additionally, Kreg utilizes an optimized drilling angle specifically configured to enhance driving efficiency and reduce the pocket-hole's overall size to less than 1-1/2in. A wood-chip relief system -which consists of one wood-chip relief hole per every drill guide hole - keeps messy debris out of your drill bits and decreases drill torque output, thus increasing the life of your drill bits. This system allows the user to make smooth pocket-holes in only one plunge. Kreg jigs are built with an unique composite material that is flexible, resilient and also strong and durable; each jig is also built in-part with heavy-duty glass-reinforced nylon that maintains its strength and longevity.

Each of these joinery options is unique and provides professional results and professional strength to your joints. Both biscuit joinery, and pocket-hole joinery offer simple and strong solutions to achieving the perfect woodworking joint.

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