|Review by KDL||posted 02-04-2008 11:41 PM||6495 views||0 times favorited||12 comments|
I bought this joiner two years ago after talking to a few woodworkers/salesmen I trust. I have used it on two large cabinets, a small table, and a small sideboard. On the whole, I think it’s a good machine for a very fair price. There are higher-end joiners that are, I’m sure, really slick. But for the money, this is a good tool, and when I bought it, it was definitely the best in its class.
It comes with: The joiner, dust bag, wrenches, regular and face-frame blades, manual, and a carrying case.
The blades: They do the job. The cut is quick and accurate. You’ll get a much better cut if you hold the tool steady. If you wobble, you’ll make a wider slot, which defeats the purpose.
The grips: The handle placement is excellent. As I understand it, many joiners are based on grinders, which have different handles. Happily Porter-Cable went to the trouble of putting a nice handle on the fixed head and a grip on the plunging base. Some other brands have both handles on the plunging part. Control is good.
Dust collection: The tool is small, so it’s easiest to use without a dust bag or vacuum. However, joiners make a lot of chips, and without a bag or vac, you’ll make an airborne mess. The bag works, but it’s small, so it will fill fast.
Which bring us to vacuums: My 1.25” Shop Vac hose is too big for the joiner’s dust port. My regular home vaccum fits TIGHTLY over the dust port—the only problem is that it’s awkward to have such a stiff hose attached to a small tool. What does work really well, is my Bosch sander vacuum hose. The hose is narrow and flexible, however, it doesn’t quite fit the jointer. So I cut a 1” long piece of 1” copper tubing and slid that over the joiner’s dust port, then my Bosch hose slips over that.
Noise: It’s loud; wear your ear protection.
Guides: The fence comes with a face frame accessory and has lots of adjustments over a wide range of depths and angles. Along with the handles, this was a major selling point for me. In addition to the fence, the joiner’s body has a height adjustment and another for different size biscuits. Everything works great. My only complaint is that I can’t use the small face-frame blade with the fence in the vertical position—the joiner’s body hits the fence. So no plunging into the middle of a wide board with the little blade, the cuts have to be near an edge. I guess that’s fair, it’s a face-frame blade, but I was trying to get creative. If I could change one thing, that would be it.
The case: The case is very rigid, but the joiner has to be folded just right to get everything back inside. That’s good for travel, but really annoying for day-to-day use. I leave the joiner out until I’m done for the day.
The manual: It is illustrated and easy to follow. It has directions for several different biscuit joints, as well as information on the tool itself. As with most manuals, it’s not perfect, but I’ve switched blades with no problem.