Biscuit Joinery

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Forum topic by bobtom posted 04-13-2010 05:17 PM 1294 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View bobtom's profile


14 posts in 2480 days

04-13-2010 05:17 PM

There are so many conflicting opinions out there concerning buscuit joinery. I am buildiing a blanket
chest (Shown in Woodcraft magazine) and they call for MOST ALL the entire joinery to be biscuits. The main
parts being joined are the veneered PLYWOOD panels to solid wood end rails. I thought about using oak veneered MDF panels instead of Plywood. I am not sure whether the MDF/Bicuit combination will have the structural intergrity I am looking for. I want this chest to last for years. Any help in joinery or
MDF/PLYWOOD dillema would be much appreciated.

-- Bob,Fort Worth Texas

9 replies so far

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

449 posts in 2427 days

#1 posted 04-13-2010 05:49 PM

Mdf is smoother and is aa good substitute for plywood. Not a structurally strong but it should not matter in this application.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3315 days

#2 posted 04-13-2010 05:53 PM

the opinions forthcoming will be as deverse as the cultural community in Toronto.

I wouldnt hesitate substituting MDF for ply and as for longevity… will be a long time dead before your box fails.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2496 days

#3 posted 04-13-2010 06:01 PM

I also think MDF will be fine and this is one of those occasions where I think biscuit joinery is the right way to go.

Don’t skimp on the biscuits. I’d advise no more than 3” between biscuits and use the number 20s.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View SKFrog16's profile


661 posts in 2622 days

#4 posted 04-13-2010 06:32 PM

I agree with the use of MDF and biscuits. Once glued up, MDF is plenty strong. Just think about all the cabinets that were built out of chip board that probably still hanging on walls hold dishes in this country. I have had 100’s of pounds of tools sitting on MDF carcasses in the shop. Never had one collapse yet.

I also like using the slot method for biscuits. Slot your edges of the cabinet, then when you cut an adjoinig slot on the other piece, as long as the offset is correct it will fit anywhere in the slot. I cut all the edge slot biscuit grooves on the router table. I like the way it makes lining up things like face frames real easy. Doesn’t require superb accuracy and yet it still provides a great fit.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 2589 days

#5 posted 04-14-2010 02:16 PM

Sorry if this was already mentioned. The plywood would be lighter weight. but do you really haul a blanket chest around much anyways? Just my 2 cents.

-- 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 SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2902 days

#6 posted 04-14-2010 03:10 PM

I think either will work fine. But use the biscuits that the plan calls for. I do agree wth 559dustdesigns, MDF is much heavier than ply and for that reason I would choose the plywood.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View jm82435's profile


1284 posts in 3164 days

#7 posted 04-14-2010 06:09 PM

I agree with everything they said. If I read this correctly, you are talking about the stiles and rails being solid material and the panels being MDF… Not sure why one would choose biscuits; I would use a tongue and groove like a traditional panel… my $.02.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

714 posts in 3040 days

#8 posted 04-14-2010 06:27 PM

Veneered panels with MDF core have become the standard in Architectural Millwork. The MDF core is a better substrate than the veneer core as the veneered surface is flatter. Of course you have to plan your joinery accordingly.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View CaptainSkully's profile


1407 posts in 2980 days

#9 posted 04-15-2010 09:39 AM

In the past, I’ve purchased several ready-made pieces of furniture (gasp) that are veneered particle board. They never last compared to plywood or solid wood. The problem is that MDF has no grain structure, swells immediately on contact with moisture, and there are so many access points. If you want to make something that lasts, use plywood and seal it with your finish.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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