Newbie trying to join wood?

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Forum topic by Quadgnim posted 06-12-2011 02:18 AM 2239 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2505 days

06-12-2011 02:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple biscuit joiner joining traditional

Hi all, I’m a newbie and don’t have the tools the pros have. I have two pieces of factory milled 1×6x8 maple and I need to join them along the long edge. I have a biscuit cutter to help me but even when I dry fit it, the seam doesn’t blend in perfectly. I’m assuming if I had a joiner and planer I could prep the wood better but since I don’t have that, what are my remaining options? I want to be able to stain the wood when I’m done.

Can I just sand it?

Should I use some wood shavings with glue to blur the seam out before sanding?

Instead of wood shavings and glue, should I use a stainable wood filler?

Any suggestions/guidance would be greatly appreciated.

15 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2531 days

#1 posted 06-12-2011 02:22 AM

What tools do you have? How do you plan to clamp it?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Gary's profile


9324 posts in 3397 days

#2 posted 06-12-2011 02:45 AM

Welcome to LJ’s Dont sand it, you’ll make it worse. Give us an idea of the tools you have

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

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3238 days

#3 posted 06-12-2011 03:25 AM

as long as your edges are square and true it shouldnt be a problem. if u have a table saw i can tell u how to make straight edges

-- M.K.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3144 posts in 3073 days

#4 posted 06-12-2011 04:09 AM

Biscuits are an OK method of holding the heights of the surfaces of pieces of wood. You can use a hand plane to make the edges good enough to join, but it’s going to take you some time to make that work. A couple of options- look around here for awhile for free; the information is available if you look- OR, buy the machinery to do the jointer work. Both work, one costs time, one costs money. Your choice.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2801 days

#5 posted 06-12-2011 05:06 AM

Lots of friendly folks here on lumber jocks with lots of experience and different backgrounds. Give us a list of tools and you will have options, we all have our favorite tools.

Because your problem is on the edge, Mark has a great lead for you if you have a table saw. Jointers are very handy but never a must. Planers can be used to true up flat surfaces with a sled and a few basic rules. But when it comes to edges, table saws are perfect for getting a true edge.

Brings me back to the original question… what kind of tools do you have. Hand planes can be a good friend along with card scrapers

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View Quadgnim's profile


4 posts in 2505 days

#6 posted 06-12-2011 06:00 AM

Wow, I’m amazed at how quickly everyone responded, I really appreciate it.

The machine cut on the wood seems better than I could ever get it on my table saw. To my eye it looks almost perfect, but when I butt the wood up against each other, its not a seamless match. I’m not sure what to expect, but when looking at furniture, I know there are techniques to making it perfect (look perfect). Unfortunately I have no formal training and don’t know anyone skilled beyond rough carpentry work. Historically I always used filler and painted my work, but I’m just an amateur. For my current project I need to stain it, so filler isn’t an option, right?

As for tools I have:

hand planer (a small one),
table saw
table mounted router/removable hand router
band saw
table belt sander
hand belt sander
hand mouse sander
miter chop saw
radial arm saw
drill press
circular hand saw
electric drill
other various miscellaneous tools
biscuit cutter

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2801 days

#7 posted 06-12-2011 02:32 PM

Next question – do you have extra wood in the width of the lumber you’re trying to join? If so, try this-

Have you tried joining all 4 edges, maybe it’s only 1 edge that has a problem. If not, stand your boards on their long edge and find which edge has a concave edge. Your table saw has a flat surface and you can see light coming from the middle of the board under the the edge that’s laying on the table. If you don’t have any spare wood in the width of the boards, take your hand plane (not a power tool hand plane) and very slowly shave a smidgit off the ends until it’s flat and the light is gone.

Or use your table saw making sure your fence is aligned perfectly and one of the edges of the board is not concave or convex and shave of those smidgets.

If you have extra wood in the width, temporarily hot glue a straight edge along the concave side of the board, shave off the convex side to a straight edge, remove the added straight edge and use the new edge to shave the concave

Kind of complicated, maybe some one else can simplify this for us!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View PCTNWV's profile


99 posts in 2768 days

#8 posted 06-12-2011 02:37 PM

As you have a table mounted router do a web search as there are a number of articles on how to use a router as an edge jointer (here is one of many – I have done this in the past and it does a good job. This should get them straight and then you can use the biscuit joiner to align them for glue up. It should also eliminate the need for filler.

Good Luck and Enjoy!!

-- Troy, Virginia

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2531 days

#9 posted 06-12-2011 02:53 PM

I hope i’m not stating the obvious, so I apologize if I am, but even with biscuits you need to clamp the wood to glue it. There are several ways to skin this cat, so you can search for results here, or google it, but here is a good start.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17305 posts in 2970 days

#10 posted 06-12-2011 02:55 PM

Quad, i too am without a dedicated jointer but i get gret results jointing on the router table. Get yourself a nice 1/2” shank straight cut router bit and if your fences on the router table have micro adjustments adjust the outfeed side of the fence 1/16” off parallel slide your boards through nibbling off that 1/16” and you will be in good shape. If it doesnt have a micro adjustment you can shim it out with whatever you have laying around.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3038 days

#11 posted 06-12-2011 03:54 PM

Quad – chrisstef gave you a good idea so I will not repeat it. However, I will comment that I try to take less than 1/16th of an inch with each pass. I try to set up for about 1/32 of an inch. I’m not saying chrisstef is wrong. I’m just saying that I prefer to take a thinner cut and make more passes if necessary.

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

View Quadgnim's profile


4 posts in 2505 days

#12 posted 06-13-2011 02:50 PM

Thanks everyone. It’s becoming more and more obvious it’s all about having the right tools and/or equipment. I never realized how critical the right fence and alterations around the fence make things work more easily and accurately the first time.

With so many of you recommending using the router, I jumped right in and tried it out. Initially I was trying to join two 8 foot pieces, but found I just couldn’t keep the piece from wobbling in my hands as I tried to guide it. I got a helper, but we still couldn’t keep it controlled. Also, every time I got near the end of the board it kicked again because the intake side of the fence had a descent gap before the bit. I see now why the referenced article from PCTNWV made a faceplate to the fence with a very tight opening around the bit. I also see why they added the Formica on the outboard side, to keep it from leaning as you shave it. I didn’t go through the process of doing all this, and my results show the lack of perfection.

I knew I’d be cutting the joined wood to 3, 10” pieces, so I decided to cut the 10” pieces first, then work on straightening them. Working with smaller pieces was a lot easier, and to overcome the kick in the board at the end, I cut it an extra 2” long, then when all done I cut off that extra 2”, and the imperfections along with it. Everything turned out good enough for this project, but now I’m definitely going to work on building some sort of fence to more accurately perform any future joining operations.

Thanks again to everyone for chiming in, it’s been a lot of fun. I think I found my new favorite forums ☺

View jcwalleye's profile


306 posts in 3037 days

#13 posted 06-14-2011 05:27 AM

You caught us there quad. One of our first suggestion should have been to cut the material closer to the finished length. Particularly when jointing, shorter pieces require less material removal than longer pieces. Often much less. Glad you found something that worked.

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17305 posts in 2970 days

#14 posted 06-15-2011 10:29 PM

Right on Quad … the more you do the easier it gets. Rich .. you’re right about 1/32” is appropriate.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3004 days

#15 posted 06-15-2011 11:58 PM

Congrats you’re on your way !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

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