Will Biscuits Work for me?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by hjt posted 12-31-2013 04:09 PM 3280 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View hjt's profile


839 posts in 3162 days

12-31-2013 04:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joinery biscuit

Per usual, happy, go luck, whistling in the shop having a great time THEN I realize I mis-measured.

I’m building a flip table to hold my planer and drill press. These two items weigh about 175 pounds total, plus the weight of the table. I had planned on doing half laps to join the horizontal piece to the vertical pieces. Instead, I cut the two vertical pieces short. While I could cut more lumber, I’m wondering if biscuits and perhaps a long screw or two from the horizontal piece into the vertical ones would provide the strength and stability I need – knowing this unit will be mobile in the shop while supporting so much weight?

So here are my questions:
1) While (I think) we can all agree half laps would be stronger, would you feel confident using a biscuit and screws for this type of project?

2) In the real carpenter trade lingo, what would the true terms be for what I’m calling horizontal and vertical pieces?

3) After all these years of making saw dust and STILL making these stupid mistakes and asking such silly questions… should I simply give up, sell the tools and spend my time doing something else (suggestions are welcomed?)

-- Harold

27 replies so far

View CharlesA's profile


3329 posts in 1821 days

#1 posted 12-31-2013 04:11 PM

biscuits will provide no strength in that joint.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View ShaneA's profile


6955 posts in 2622 days

#2 posted 12-31-2013 04:25 PM

2) rails and stiles

View CharlesA's profile


3329 posts in 1821 days

#3 posted 12-31-2013 04:30 PM

Pocket screws would work. Screws going directly in the end grain don’t provide much strength either.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#4 posted 12-31-2013 04:34 PM

I’d go with pocket screws unless you’re set up for
loose tenons or dowels.

If you’re not set up for pocket screws, the holes
can be drilled without any special jig. Take
a 3/8” spade boring bit with spurs and drill straight
down a little to get the point engaged in the wood
then turn the bit to a sharp angle while you drill.

Screws don’t hold well in end grain but you can
drill a 1/2” hole in the end grain part, glue a dowel
in there and then the dowel will hold the screws.

View thesoninlaw's profile


97 posts in 1809 days

#5 posted 12-31-2013 04:38 PM

+1 to ShaneA. Definitely cut more lumber

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3388 days

#6 posted 12-31-2013 04:44 PM

Pocket screws + glue should do it.

View jumbojack's profile


1677 posts in 2648 days

#7 posted 12-31-2013 05:07 PM

#1 NO cut fresh lumber. It is a re-do

#2 See ShaneA, Rails horizontal, Stiles vertical

#3 Everyone make these ‘stupid’ mistakes occasionally, usually due to poor planning. There are no ‘silly questions’. Buck up amigo, we all make mistakes. At least you are not a heart surgeon.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View bondogaposis's profile


4759 posts in 2375 days

#8 posted 12-31-2013 05:26 PM

I would start over and make it right, it has to support a lot of weight and and at this this point it is not a whole lot of lumber. It will be a lot cheaper than having it fail later after the whole thing is done.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bbc557ci's profile


595 posts in 2098 days

#9 posted 12-31-2013 05:34 PM

We all make mistakes even the experts, and so called experts, so if you enjoy your shop time, stay with it :o)

That said, think I’d just start over ie cut more wood.
What ShaneA said. Or go with loose tenons per Loren, or maybe splines?

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#10 posted 12-31-2013 05:42 PM

Any of the above ideas will work but you could also use loose tenon joinery and use the wood you have already cut.As Shane said they are called rails and stile the vertical members are the stiles and horizontal members being the rails.
Mistakes happen to the best of us even people that have been woodworking for years. Don’t let a little mistake side track you,fixing mistakes is a big part of woodworking. Don’t take these things to seriously ENJOY and just use a mistake as a learning experience.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View fuigb's profile


491 posts in 2981 days

#11 posted 12-31-2013 05:50 PM

Given the intended use and load I’d start over and stick with the half-lap joint. The band-aid of biscuits or screws will, I fear, eventally fail and likely result in damaged tools and maybe your foot.

Even the pros err, so press on so long as you’re having fun. Then again maybe power down and then turn on a football game. If after five minutes you’re thinking “why am I wasting my time with this” then you probably belong in the shop, foul-ups and all.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Woodwrecker's profile


4153 posts in 3599 days

#12 posted 12-31-2013 09:10 PM

Better to do it over & love it later on brother.

-- Eric, central Florida / Utor praemia operibus duris

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2171 days

#13 posted 12-31-2013 11:25 PM

If you have the lumber… I’d do it over. Sometimes you don’t have the extra lumber on hand though.

Glad you asked though. Curious about the biscuits. I’ve just recently started using them so wondering why they wouldn’t work? Someone mentioned loose tenons and even dowels… Wouldn’t a dowel be the same amount of support?

Anyhow… If making mistakes meant we should give up… I’d be done. Lol. I make mistakes all the time. :)

Looking forward to seeing end project.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#14 posted 12-31-2013 11:31 PM

At the risk of being banned forever, I must say that I’ve not had a biscuit joint fail.
Having said that, I don’t try to support old cars with a joint of any kind. :)
The rail and stile function shown is not a good one. A re-do is in order.


View hjt's profile


839 posts in 3162 days

#15 posted 01-01-2014 01:56 AM

Thanks boys and girls for the advice and encouragement. Guess I’ll cancel my basket weaving course for now.

New Question:
So what is a loose tenons?

Also, Angie asked a good question – love to get answers on that too.

I felt the half lap would be the best – just hate re-do. I know how I made my mistake, just wonder how I did not catch it. Guess I’ll be in the shop later this week to fix the goof.

And yes, Jumbojack – at least I’m not a heart surgeon.

-- Harold

showing 1 through 15 of 27 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics