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Forum topic by richgreer posted 09-13-2010 04:10 PM 1739 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 3249 days

09-13-2010 04:10 PM

Most of us know that a different episode from the early New Yankee Workshop shows is available each week at I write this to advise that I think this week’s episode is particularly good. It provides some excellent guidance on working with angles – something I sometimes find challenging.

It is also interesting to notice the tools he uses. He uses a mortising attachment on his drill press instead of a mortising machine. He makes extensive use of his radial arm saw. There is at least one part of this project where I would use a tenoning jig on the table saw, but he does not.

I wonder if he would use biscuits if he were doing this project today. I wouldn’t. IMO, oak boards glued side to side don’t benefit from biscuits. OTOH, they don’t do any harm. I remember in the earlier years, Norm was a big advocate for biscuits. He used them much less in the later years.

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

12 replies so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4245 posts in 3339 days

#1 posted 09-13-2010 04:23 PM

Thanks for the reminder Rich. I am heading for a long overdue vacation starting this comming weekend, and it really difficult to mount any effort in the shop. Sherie keeps finding honey-do’s for me (replacing the lock on the front door yesterday), and my load at work escalates. I have a fun shop project going, but I’ll be darned if I can get to it.

Have a good one.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View TheDane's profile


5534 posts in 3838 days

#2 posted 09-13-2010 04:33 PM

Rich—You are right … in some later episodes, Norm even conceded that biscuits don’t add much strength, but are good for alignment. I tend to be an early riser, so Saturday mornings (while the wife is till snoozing), you will find me in front of the computer watching a new-to-me episode of NYW.

Jim—Looks like your wife and mine are working from the same playbook! Between remodeling the laundry room, sanding/refinishing window sills, cleaning and staining 3 decks, sanding/re-varnishing lawn furniture, etc. the tools in my shop started to get pretty lonely.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3249 days

#3 posted 09-13-2010 04:44 PM

I wonder how many people, like me, bought a biscuit jointer, in part, because Norm advocated them so much. Then I wonder how those people are using their biscuit jointers today. I sometimes use them to help with alignment and I have used them when gluing end grain. However, in general, I like to avoid gluing end grain.

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

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3349 days

#4 posted 09-13-2010 04:57 PM

After a few seasons of using the Lamello, maybe Norm would rather “fight than switch” to the P-C plate joiner :-)

I think he used some tools … after Delta/P-C took over the show … that were NOT Delta-P-C products, but … it’s pretty likely that the sponsor actively discouraged this practice, whenever they could.


-- -- Neil

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3478 days

#5 posted 09-13-2010 05:33 PM

i know i bought mine strictly from seeing norm use it…i was at the time using dowels and when the biscuit joiner came…it was wow…but i do use it on larger projects and yea it helps with alignment, but i think with the new glues that are out…they provide all the strength needed…imho…....ive had my dealt joiner now for 16 years..and she still turns out a nice cut…i dont have high speed so i cant watch norm,, but i will say i do miss him…hes a great guy and he is the one who inspired me to peruse wood working…i learned a lot from norm..and a certain friend of mine got within whispering distance of the man and i think he absorbed some of norms left over brain waves …through the glass even…....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Walt's profile


250 posts in 3013 days

#6 posted 09-13-2010 05:36 PM

Just got finished watching that video you mentioned on Without all those jigs and the Radial arm saw the table would be difficut to build. In my shop it would end up with flat rails and tapered legs. I know I would have a very hard time getting those tight 5 1/2 degree bevels. But that is why we watch Norm to be challanged. :)

-- Walt Wilmington Delaware,

View TheDane's profile


5534 posts in 3838 days

#7 posted 09-13-2010 06:18 PM

I use my biscuit joiner (DeWalt DW682K) a good deal, but only for alignment.

Rod Peterson, aka ‘The Master WoodButcher’ has put a lot of work into cataloging Norm’s tools …

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3025 days

#8 posted 09-13-2010 06:45 PM

I think the consensus here is true: Norm’s show is all about product placement. And that’s fine, just so long as we are aware of it. (In fact, everything on television and talk radio is way more product driven, edited and produced than most folks know.)

Two edge glued boards are no stronger with biscuits—you can concoct your own tests in the shop to prove that. But there are many places, like solid stock to sheet goods, where they’re a distinct advantage.

There are stories too, of tabletops glued up with biscuits and the wood at that site shrinking in time. It’s called “biscuit draw” AKA “biscuit pucker.” It is discussed in Fine Woodworking #82, p. 24, and commented upon in the Letters section of the three issues subsequent. Prevention requires the slot to be at least 1/4” below the finished surface.

Cheap biscuit joiners probably soured more people on the joint than we can ever know. On the early PC machines it was nearly impossible to get the fence parallel to the cutter, and if it’s off a smidge one way, the error is doubled when it comes to assembly because the slots are cut opposite each other.

Conversely, the Lamello owner may be tempted, because the joint is so darn dependable to make, to use biscuits where they’re not needed or even a detriment to assembly or not the best choice structurally.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Woodwrecker's profile


4196 posts in 3750 days

#9 posted 09-13-2010 06:51 PM

My old Ryobi biscuit joiner is still humming along, and I have to admit that I use it regularly.
When, I get a chance to….
I am with you guys who have been “coaxed” into forced servitude…..
Our house looks like the aftermath of a controlled explosion….LOL

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4245 posts in 3339 days

#10 posted 09-13-2010 08:38 PM

Good info on the biscuit joiners, I have not gone that route yet.

About product placement, biased studies, hype, etc:

The sad thing, is that modern medicine is dominated by this stuff too. From the drug manufacturers, total joints, various surgical techniques and appliances, etc. Physicians actually get paid in various ways to use and promote these things, or particular brands. Take everything you see, hear, and read with a grain of salt, especially if someone is paid to do it, sponsored, or stands to benefit…..............


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 3248 days

#11 posted 09-14-2010 03:52 AM

Bought a Ryobi biscuit joiner about 10 years ago. Don’t use it very much. I do use it some when I want to attach face frames and I don’t want ANY mechanical fasteners. But I find myself using the Kreg pocket jig a ton for much of the things I used to use the biscuit for.

Bought a P/C biscuit joiner at the school after the Freud joiner quit. The P/C is okay, but the Freud was a lot better! My students aren’t very fond of it, though.

In his last years, Norm used the biscuit joiner to cut holes on face frames, and simply cutting a slot on the front edge of the cabinets he was attaching the face frame to.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3234 days

#12 posted 09-14-2010 05:21 AM

I have a Freud biscuit joiner that I use to assist with alignment of parts. I do not trust the fence on the tool so I only use it if I can register on the base of the tool. I usually will use my table saw top and the fence as a solid flat surface on which to register everything so that it lines up correctly. It works very well for me, but it does only see limited use.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

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