Plate Jointer Jig

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by davidroberts posted 10-07-2009 07:07 AM 6515 reads 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I need to cut about 200 or so biscuit slots for a set of bookcases, using my PC plate joiner. First time I have used the joiner and noticed it jumps around so I built a jig to hold the joiner securely in place against a fence. The jig is a modifed, striped down version of one shown in a magazine, I think Better Homes and Garden 101 Best Shop Jigs Ever. The plan called for a plywood base with a 1/8 inch masonite top, T-slots, hold-downs, the works. Mine is just 3/4” MDF thrown together. But it’s sturdy and square. Here it is. Oops, the corner of the photo got cut off on Photobucket.


Anyways, it measures about 24”x14” with a 6” gap for the joiner. The fence is 1.5” tall. The plan called for a slightly larger base, but this is all the MDF I had, that I wanted to dedicate to this jig. The 6” gap is per the plans. Since my PC model was shown in the plans, I think a 557, (I’m not a model number snob because I’m old and can’t remember very well), I figured the gap width was good to go. There is about 3/16” or so play on each side of the joiner as it rests in the gap. There are also two 1”x6” cleats, or stops, set 6” from the back edge to hold the jig parallel to the workbench and to keep it from sliding around. I use a clamp to hold it securely to the bench. The pressure is towards the bench so one clamp is good enough.


I just used brads and glue to assemble the jig. The trick is to keep the parts on each side of the slot square to each other because the fence will reference off these pieces. It’s also good to keep the cleats square but not as critical.


I tried it out and noticed the joiner can jump around even in the slot. You need to have a good grip on the joiner and the material you’re cutting. I didn’t want to fuss around trying to concentrate on holding everything in place so I affixed the joiner to the jig. I looked at the two holds provided in the base of the joiner and assumed they were 1/4”. They sure looked like 1/4”, lol. So I set the joiner face plate against a piece of stock held tight against the fence and marked the holes in the base of the jig. I turned the jig over, marked the hole locations, and drilled two 1/4” deep holes using a forstner bit thinking I would use 1/4” bolts. The forstner holes were oversized to accommodate a socket. I went to the borg and bought the 1/4”x2” bolts, nuts, washers, etc, got them home and realized the holes are just slightly smaller than 1/4”. DOH. Bad enginering if you ask me. Why make the holes just a shade under 1’4” So I ended up using #10 machine screws, the next smallest screw I could find. I thought they were a little to small to hold the joiner firmly but they actually work fine. The joiner ain’t going nowhere. I will know immediately if it rides out of square.


I bought the joiner used, gently used. I doubt the guy cut 10 slots with it. I cut some slots for a 0 size biscuit and noticed the slots were too deep by maybe 3/32”, and were off vertically from center of board by a fat 1/16th. So I made some adjustment using the hex screw on the depth adjustment knob, which had never been cracked, and fine tuned the height of the blade using the rack and pinion adjuster. I made a few cuts on 3/4” hardwood plywood just to make sure and it is dead nuts. I now kown the previous owner never made the adjustments and was probably frustrated using it. Maybe so, maybe no. Here is a photo of the depth adjustment knob, and you may can see one of the #10s I used. Actually the #10 is slighty cut off in the bottom right of the photo.


So now no more excuses.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

12 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4127 days

#1 posted 10-07-2009 07:11 AM

The jig looks like a great idea for production work.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4055 days

#2 posted 10-07-2009 07:17 AM

Good idea. I’ll bet the holes are metric maybe 6mm or so. Most of these tools are made overseas. Were you getting a lot of jumping even with that plate you can lay on the piece?

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3369 days

#3 posted 10-07-2009 07:25 AM

good move ,
doesn’t hurt to be as accurate as possible .
and les mis alignment !
good tip .
thanks .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3618 days

#4 posted 10-07-2009 07:33 AM

Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3196 days

#5 posted 10-07-2009 10:46 AM

This jig looks very helpful, I have that same model jointer and the rough finish and some pressure doesn’t always keep this thing in place. It just starts cutting side ways. One tip I have for you if you want to cut a really small piece of wood that’s hard to hold. I recently clamped the wood to the front of the jointer with a small bar clamp in order to make my cut safely. The base on this model is parallel to the front of the plate jointer under the handle. Looks like we both found a better way to make different cuts. Thanks for sharing your jig with great pictures.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3990 days

#6 posted 10-07-2009 02:01 PM

I have the same joiner and use it with the fence set at 90 degrees and the depth where it needs to be. I push down on the fence and have never had a problem with it moving. I use a stop piece on the back side of the work piece to keep it from moving away from me. Seems as though you don’t have the top fence on the machine.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3646 days

#7 posted 10-07-2009 06:40 PM

I agree with Thomas. I have had this machine for years and never experienced a “jump” unless you count the times I engaged the cutter befor the tool was up to speed. The tool in the photos has the top fence attached but it is in the folded-up position. David….Are you sure you are using the tool correctly?

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View a1Jim's profile


117126 posts in 3605 days

#8 posted 10-07-2009 07:12 PM

Well done good Idea

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#9 posted 10-08-2009 01:04 AM

I do think you had a good idea with the jig as it will insure a good results every time.

I read an article on using joiners in FWW magazine some time ago. The author suggested not using the fence if possible because they are not always accurate. He showed quite a few ways to use it in this manner. You can do this pretty easy and I have used my joiner in that way, always referencing off the bottom. I do agree with you that the joiner jumps at start-up. I simply start it before positioning it for the cut instead of starting and pushing it into the work piece right away.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3514 days

#10 posted 10-08-2009 03:36 AM

Todd: I recounted, each board is 57” long, there’s 24 board at lets say 10 slots each plus twelve of the boards receiving 3/8”edge banding, carry the 1, that’s 480 slots. What was I thinking? Dang, I need more biscuits, and glue. Thanks for making me sit down and figure it out.

Jack1: Funny you should mention metric. I saw the metric machine screws at the borg but got there late and was out of time so I just settled on the #10. Plus I was afraid I didn’t have the correct size metric wrench back home. But I bet a metric would have fit better. I cut a few slots with the fence down and while it registered ok with the board, I just didn’t have the practice – skill – patience to cut alot of slots without help.

Patron: Accuracy has become my matra, my obsession. I’ll blame this affliction on using a $100 bench TS for so long. Nowadays a pencil stroke is to wide. I prefer the small cut of a marking knife. God help me. This malady should come in handy setting up my RAS, haha.

559dustdesigns, Thos, Don: On a FWW video, I saw a 90 degree angle used to help align and secure the joiner. I can see where that can work well. The joiner has a fence and if I were cutting 10 or 20 or even 50 slots, I probably would skip the jig setup. I’ll set the fence to rest on the board when I start to make the cuts. This jig may be overkill. I’ll let you know. One other item. These bookcases are an Eagle Scout project so my son will be cutting the majority of slots, if he’s lucky ;>). He’s kinda skiddish when it comes to power tools. This may help him (and me).

Stefang: I do need practice and develop technique to use the tool free hand so to speak. I’m short on time and long on slots! I liked the idea of making the tool stationary for this project. Kinda like a table mounted router. That way, I, er my son, only have holding the board to worry about.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3902 days

#11 posted 10-08-2009 06:40 PM

nice. simple and effective. You obviously think like a woodworker.

-- Happy woodworking!

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3514 days

#12 posted 10-09-2009 05:25 AM

oh, snap. i just realized by adjusting the depth of the slot, i removed the extra space needed for the glue and the expansion of the biscuit. the factory set the depth for a reason, it’s the correct depth. rank amatuer :>O

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics