Homemade Biscuits.... Help?

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Forum topic by Dallas posted 04-15-2012 04:32 PM 6903 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3599 posts in 2726 days

04-15-2012 04:32 PM

I have a number of small pieces of aromatic cedar that need to be joined at odd angles and directions.

I tried gluing, but the joints aren’t very strong, mostly because it’s end grain to end grain but also partly due to the natural oils in the cedar.

The joints will be visible from both sides and so I can’t use nails or brads.

The joint’s themselves will be less than 1 1/4” long by 1” thick and using a biscuit jointer on them would be nearly impossible. Moreso because I don’t have one.

I thought about using splines, which would work but would show and wouldn’t be overly strong. Then I thought about making homemade biscuits.

Since I’ve never used or bought biscuits, I was wondering if someone could soak a biscuit and tell me how thick it is before and after. My reasoning is that if I soak some wood, (beech, sycamore, oak, hickory, sweetgum, hackberry, chinaberry, or about anything else I’ve got laying around), and then compress it in the vice, I don’t want it to expand too much and crack the cedar when it is put in the glue joint.
I will be cutting slots in each joint on the router table either 1/8” or 1/4” by about 1/2” deep. My thought is to cut and plane the wood for the biscuits 1/16” thicker than slot thickness, then soak and compress it and let it dry. When it is put in the slot and glue added, it should expand a bit and become tight.
This way I’ll have strong long grain joints and I can do a lot of them in a short amount of time by cuting the slots on the router table.

Am I over thinking this? Is there an easier way? I thought about using a doweling jig and dowels, but that would be a bit time consuming and I have to make at least 75 to 100 of these in a short amount of time.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

14 replies so far

View bruc101's profile


1261 posts in 3780 days

#1 posted 04-15-2012 04:35 PM

Why not use a lap joint on the ends of the boards,=.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2726 days

#2 posted 04-15-2012 04:43 PM

I would use lap joints, but all the pieces are already cut. I didn’t think the glueups would be that weak. It’s like the oil in the endgrain cedar won’t let the glue adhere.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2815 days

#3 posted 04-15-2012 04:45 PM

Use epoxy?

Maybe the end grain is soaking up the glue, try sizing the end grain, (apply glue and let it soak in, and then try joining the pieces together)

HTH, good luck Dallas.

View dhazelton's profile


2805 posts in 2535 days

#4 posted 04-15-2012 04:52 PM

This wiki page tells you the sizes of biscuits:

I don’t know if Ryobi or Sears offer their smaller detail biscuit cutters anymore. You could by the smaller #10s and carefully cut them down on a band saw. I can’t see the beechwood biscuits swelling so much that they they explode grain, they only expand to fill the kerf.

You could also make a jig to hold each piece at the correct angle for a dowel hole on the drill press. Once the jig is made and clamped down just set your depth stop and go to town

View dhazelton's profile


2805 posts in 2535 days

#5 posted 04-15-2012 04:55 PM

Oh, and if these don’t need to sustain any stress you could try hot glue.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2726 days

#6 posted 04-15-2012 04:57 PM

Hmmmm, you gave me an idea. I wonder if cutting a slot and using Gorilla Glue would work?

I did try letting the glue soak in, (TBII, TBIII and Gorilla Wood Glue). After 24 hours, I could peel the glue off in a sheet. It never went into the grain at all.

I should add that all these pieces are cut in pentagon shapes, so using lap joints or tongue and groove is not an option. If I had been thinking, I would have tried gluing this stuff together before making final cuts, using some scrap, but I’ve never had a problem with it before.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3209 days

#7 posted 04-15-2012 05:10 PM

Gorilla glue might stick to the surface but it has almost no strength in shear.
Epoxy will be the strongest joint as far as glue alone will get you.

If you could use biscuits, why not splines? They don’t have to be exposed.
Maybe you don’t call them splines if they are completely embedded; loose tennons?
Even some small dowells would be stronger than butted endgrain.

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2815 days

#8 posted 04-15-2012 05:12 PM

Floating tennons + Epoxy = Bingo

I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

View dhazelton's profile


2805 posts in 2535 days

#9 posted 04-15-2012 05:12 PM

Don’t forget that you can barely see the hole from a 23 gauge headless pin nailer. Might help as a clamp until glue sets up.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3089 days

#10 posted 04-15-2012 05:27 PM

Is this Tennessee red cedar or western?

I’m curious about the oil you speak of. Have you tried cleaning this with a solvent such as acetone or lacquer thinner? Then gluing?

My suggestion would be to try that and if it is worth the solvent trick, employ that along with the adhesive of your choice. Mine would be Titebond 2 or 3.

Glue and clamp. Band clamps are best for this.

Then, a day or more later, cut for splines and make them out of like or contrasting wood. They will show either way because of the cut angle of the grain.

You could cut with a biscuit cutter (you’ll want to buy one eventually) or else on the table saw with a sled.

I think your idea of making biscuits should be returned to the kitchen where it should stay : )



-- " 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 a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#11 posted 04-15-2012 05:59 PM

Loose tenons or dowels , I wouldn’t bother trying to make your own biscuits unless their in an oven :))

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2726 days

#12 posted 04-15-2012 06:04 PM

Thanks guys, lots of good ideas so far.

Lee… This is actually Texas Cedar, which is really a Mountain Juniper varietal and has oils out the wazoo. I can squeeze a fresh cut piece in the vice and had droplets appear on the edges. They aren’t pitch because they never harden, but do carry a lot of the aromatics. Someone should patent a way to capture this stuff and market it as a moth repellant, LOL.
I really don’t want to get my fingers close enough to a spinning biscuit blade than I have too, and an inch and a half seems a bit too close for my comfort zone. Besides, according to my wife, it’s going to be a few months before I can even look at a decent Biscuit Jointer after my last foray at the Flea Market yesterday, (That will be a whole ‘nother thread—as soon as I get all the goodies together).
I did try cleaning it with Acetone, Naphtha and BrakeKleen (My favorite). BrakeKleen does the best job, but after about 20 minutes the oil is right back again.

dhazelton, If I had a 23 gauge pinner, I would probably use it. See my post to Lee of why that’s not going to happen, LOL.

waho6o9, I’m leaning that way along with Michael’s idea of splines or loose tenons. I was really hoping to find a method that would pull the joint tight and line up the edges. I kind of thought that compressing some wood in the vie while wet would allow it to expand a bit when put into the slot with the glue creating a tighter joint.

Jim… Lots of oven space… I just bought a n old convection oven. 24 X 24 X 24 to use with my small powder coating needs. I can bring it down to a 180° indicated, but it actually holds at 150° actual. Should be good for drying wood in a hurry especially when the wood is in metal clamps.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2929 days

#13 posted 04-16-2012 03:03 AM

Dallas, A 23 gauge pin nailer is less than $20 at Harbor Freight and mine has worked fine for several years.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2726 days

#14 posted 04-16-2012 01:33 PM

gfadvm: I doubt if I can talk my wife out of enough money for even a six pack of adult beverages for the next two weeks.
She doesn’t seem to understand that are those old tools I bought at the flea market are rusty gold, just waiting to be restored. She thinks I’m starting to collect rust as a hobby.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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