All Replies on What's your favorite biscuit joiner? Thoughts on the Porter Cable 557?

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View Jonathan's profile

What's your favorite biscuit joiner? Thoughts on the Porter Cable 557?

by Jonathan
posted 08-19-2011 06:56 PM

25 replies so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1765 posts in 3181 days

#1 posted 08-19-2011 07:01 PM

I have a Dewalt. I picked it up on E-bay for 50 bucks. You might consider a used model. They are pretty simple little machines and not much is going to go wrong with a used model.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View syenefarmer's profile


402 posts in 2171 days

#2 posted 08-19-2011 07:14 PM

I have a PC557 and like it. It will do a some things that others in its price range can’t but if FF aren’t in your future the DeWalt should do nicely too. Something else to consider though is how much you will use a joiner. For me, having the Porter Cable has certainly not been worth the money I paid out to have it.

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


5839 posts in 1689 days

#3 posted 08-19-2011 07:24 PM

I have the dewalt, a simple but functional tool. I have read that the PC is supposed to be pretty good machine, with a fence that may offer some benefits the dewalt does not. Good luck.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2141 days

#4 posted 08-19-2011 07:24 PM

John, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a used one, particularly if I can find one locally (such as on Craigslist), that hasn’t seen a lot of use.

syenefarmer, FF’s are certainly one of the reasons I’m looking at the PC557. Don’t have an immediate use for them, but I’m sure something will arise down the road. I do have a few projects floating around in my head right now where a joiner would help with alignment. I don’t think I just want to settle for a slot cutter router bit though. It just seems like a compromise. Not sure how often I’d use it, as I don’t have one particular type or style of woodworking that I focus on, and am actually beginning to design some larger furniture-type projects, compared to most all of the little things I’ve posted on here. I’m still growing as a woodworker and exploring various areas, so I’m not sure where it’ll take me?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Mike's profile


18 posts in 2085 days

#5 posted 08-19-2011 07:25 PM

This is the one I have.

I love it so far, I really like the vertical handle way more comfortable/stable to use. It comes with a carbide tipped blade, hard case, biscuits to get started, a dust collector that works and can cut #0 to 20. I wont speak of durability as I have only made 20-30 cuts but so far so good. Actually the quality of this item got me to purchase a bench top drill press from Ryobi. Its been great as well. I know its not what your post listed as candidates, PC and Festool make great products but IMO this is a inexpensive little gem.

-- Why measure twice when you can cut twice.

View woodworm's profile


14144 posts in 2682 days

#6 posted 08-19-2011 07:48 PM

IMO, biscuit jonter is a straight forward machine tool. Most makes (brands) will do the job. If your like PC, go ahead – I believe you will enjoy using it. Good Luck!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 1918 days

#7 posted 08-19-2011 07:52 PM

I have the PC its very nice and a great deal off of amazon


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2399 days

#8 posted 08-19-2011 07:57 PM

I also have the PC and it is very nice but I rarely use it. I bought it when building some larger cabinets for the house and it came in real handy and was a pleasure to use. Now I primarily build Jewelry boxes and don’y use it in their construction.

View Gary's profile


8388 posts in 2524 days

#9 posted 08-19-2011 08:21 PM

I have a PC. For the amount of use it gets, I’d get either a used or reconditioned. Wouldn’t spend much on it. Not the most important tool you can have by a long shot

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3073 posts in 1584 days

#10 posted 08-19-2011 08:23 PM

I have the PC, and feel it’s the top of the BJ food chain. The Dewalt is a very close second. It replaced a Ryobi which was about the hardest tool to use I’ve ever owned (sold it on e-bay). The small biscuits the PC does (it’’s biggest and maybe only advantage over a Dewalt: my opinion) are fairly handy and have proven useful several times for me. The only thing about is that for a $200 or so tool, it really doesn’t earn it’s keep….at least in my shop. It’s handy to have, but if it was gone it’s unlikely I would miss it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2265 days

#11 posted 08-19-2011 08:23 PM

I think there’s a sense that the 557 is the best value, and that the Lamello (think: Festool) is the best product.

But … lots of people seem happy with their Ryobi biscuit joiners, too.

-- -- Neil

View SnowyRiver's profile


51451 posts in 2571 days

#12 posted 08-19-2011 08:35 PM

I have the PC too and like it. It works very well.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View dbhost's profile


5426 posts in 2323 days

#13 posted 08-19-2011 08:48 PM

Go lay your hands on a few biscuit joiners. I have the Ryobi, and unlike Fred, I find it incredibly easy to use. But I like the D handle, a lot of guys don’t. I can never plunge straight with a barrel handle joiner, so the PC style won’t work well for me…

Even though I like my biscuit joiner, honestly, I spend WAY more time cutting M&T joints than biscuits. The biscuit does very little for adding strength, the M&T will usually outlast the wood around it…

If my biscuit joiner died, I seriously doubt I would replace it.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 1684 days

#14 posted 08-19-2011 09:03 PM

PC PC PC Why because it’s PC

View Richard's profile


1549 posts in 1781 days

#15 posted 08-19-2011 09:35 PM

I have had the Harbor Freight unit for about a year and a half and even though the fence is pretty much crap, it works fine once you get it adjusted and you don’t have to pay and arm & a leg for it. I have only needed to cut biscuits about 3 times and they all came out fine. But whatever brand you get test it out on a scrap piece first to make sure the adjustment is ok .

View crank49's profile


3900 posts in 2062 days

#16 posted 08-19-2011 10:06 PM

I have seen the PC for as little as $25 on CL. There is one at a local pawn shop right now for $100 with a hard case, spare blades and a bunch of biscuits.

There was a review of these machines a few months ago; I think in Fine Woodworking. They liked the PC best because it could cut joints in bevel corners that the other machines could not. Something about the way the fence was designed. The main requirement to do good in their review was very precise blade height adjustment. The PC and Dewalt were the only two that had it.

I have a PC 557 I got at Home Depot for $169 last fall. Been a good tool, but it is a “one trick pony”. Doubt I would spend the money to replace it with a new one if it ever dies.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2014 days

#17 posted 08-19-2011 10:07 PM

I have a sears(one of the very few sears tools I own) and it works fine. I use it about twice a year

-- Life is good.

View jack1's profile


2015 posts in 3118 days

#18 posted 08-20-2011 12:13 AM

I have the porter cable. Nice unit that I don’t use very often…

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

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 2249 days

#19 posted 08-20-2011 04:40 AM

+1 for the DeWalt. Haven’t used the PC, but I fail to see what it could do that the DW can’t.

-- jay,

View pmayer's profile


706 posts in 2156 days

#20 posted 08-21-2011 02:22 PM

i sold my dewalt and bought a used PC. The additional capability of using mini biscuits for face frames is nice. Used it that way just last night, in fact. I would look for an older used one. The newer ones are not as well made. Porter Cable used to be a premium industrial product line, but it has now been turned into a hobbyist brand and the quality is noticeably lower. If you compare it to an older one, even at a glance, you will see what I am talking about.

-- PaulMayer,

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2141 days

#21 posted 08-21-2011 04:19 PM

Thank you to everyone that has weighed-in on this topic. I certainly have some thinking to do on this one. I need to figure out if I am going to use this tool enough to justify purchasing it, or not. I will also keep my eyes out for a nice “barely used” unit on CL.

If anyone else has anything else to add from their own point-of-view, please, by all means, go ahead.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Don W's profile

Don W

16829 posts in 1659 days

#22 posted 08-23-2011 09:55 PM

I have a PC I bought used. I have no complaints about the machine, I just don’t use it as much as i thought i would.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View bravozulu's profile


14 posts in 1572 days

#23 posted 08-24-2011 09:10 PM

The prime difference amongst Biscuit Jointers is in the fence. But, for the most part, it isn’t that important. Since the introduction of the Festool Domino, lots of folks are dumping their Biscuit Jointers at low prices. Good time to buy on used.

I have the Cadillac of BJ’s — the Lamello. I think it is overkill. And, to my eyes, my joinery is better because of the quality of Lamello Biscuits, not so much the machine. You can buy the biscuits and use them with any brand of machine and achieve similar results. The advantage is the extremely close measurement tolerance, so each biscuit is uniform and fits tight. One dealer who sells them in small quantities is Highland Hardware in Atlanta. On the West Coast, go to Colonial Saw, in Riverside Calif. Both have websites.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2141 days

#24 posted 08-24-2011 09:15 PM

bravozulu, thank you for the information regarding the Lamello biscuits. I will have to look into them. I am still trying to gauge if I will use a biscuit joiner enough to justify purchasing one, even a used one. I have been trying to slowly cut back on clutter lately, so I don’t need something else that is going to collect dust, unless it’s being used from time to time.

Again, thanks to everyone for their input.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2141 days

#25 posted 09-25-2011 04:39 PM

I have decided to hold off on the biscuit joiner for now. I’ve got a doweling jig that should suffice for a while, and I found a really great deal on the JessEm Pocket Zip Slot Mortise Mill on the JessEm website. They’ve currently got it on sale for $39.99. I have not purchased it yet, but am thinking about it. Certainly a bit on the slow side, but it would work at my current level of production since I’m not batching anything out at this point.

Here’s the link, if anybody is interested: JessEm Pocket Zip Slot Mortise Mill

I’m also going to post a separate forum topic on it for people to leave updated feedback.

Thank you for your candid answers above. Your comments were helpful!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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