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Is a plate joiner worth it?

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Forum topic by TexasWonder posted 09-17-2014 04:43 PM 1258 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TexasWonder

12 posts in 829 days


09-17-2014 04:43 PM

I’ve come across a great deal on a plate joiner through my local classifieds but wanted to know if the tool is worth the money. As a novice woodworker I’m still building a basic array of tools and wonder if the money I would spend on this plate joiner would be better used towards a set of chisels or a nice dovetail saw.

How useful do you find a plate joiner to be? My gut tells me to just pick it up since it’s a good price, because even if I don’t use it, I’ll have it ready for when I need one.


19 replies so far

View mramseyISU's profile

mramseyISU

419 posts in 1012 days


#1 posted 09-17-2014 04:52 PM

I’ve got one, there are times when it’s really handy but it doesn’t get a lot of use. Damn Norm making me think I needed one.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

View GregD's profile

GregD

783 posts in 2603 days


#2 posted 09-17-2014 05:22 PM

I use my Kreg pocket hole jig much more than my biscuit joiner.

While you are getting started I recommend that you buy only the additional tools you need for the project you are doing. It is hard to hold back, ‘cause buying a new tool sure is fun. But you really need tohave a good idea of the projects that you will be doing to be able to guess whether a particular tool that you see on sale will actually be useful.

-- Greg D.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2280 days


#3 posted 09-17-2014 05:26 PM

Yes, it is a handy tool. I mostly use mortise and tenon joints, but almost every project seems to get a couple biscuits as well. Gluing cap boards on headboards and picture frames, attaching corbels etc etc etc. Once you have one you will find all kinds of good uses for it.
Some people assume that biscuits are only used for edge-gluing boards to make tabletops. That is probably their least useful application. However, with 90 degree butt joints and end grain applications biscuits are a great help.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

809 posts in 2317 days


#4 posted 09-17-2014 05:31 PM

What’s the tool & deal. If it’s a great deal then buy it, play with it a bit, and then if you don’t like it you ca flip it to at least break even. It’s not always a go to tool and can be a PITA at times but when it fits an application I’m damn glad to have it. I’m doing a VERY large frame right now and it’ll be getting biscuits AND pocket hole screws to try and keep all the joints to gether.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2228 posts in 1913 days


#5 posted 09-17-2014 05:44 PM

I recently used it to cut small grooves for mounting clamps:

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

821 posts in 2402 days


#6 posted 09-17-2014 05:53 PM

^^ Good idea!

I have one and don’t use it too often but it comes in handy when I need it.

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

2854 posts in 2698 days


#7 posted 09-17-2014 05:54 PM



I use my Kreg pocket hole jig much more than my biscuit joiner.

While you are getting started I recommend that you buy only the additional tools you need for the project you are doing. It is hard to hold back, cause buying a new tool sure is fun. But you really need tohave a good idea of the projects that you will be doing to be able to guess whether a particular tool that you see on sale will actually be useful.

- GregD

+1 what Greg said.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View TexasWonder's profile

TexasWonder

12 posts in 829 days


#8 posted 09-17-2014 05:56 PM



What s the tool & deal. If it s a great deal then buy it, play with it a bit, and then if you don t like it you ca flip it to at least break even. It s not always a go to tool and can be a PITA at times but when it fits an application I m damn glad to have it. I m doing a VERY large frame right now and it ll be getting biscuits AND pocket hole screws to try and keep all the joints to gether.

- ChefHDAN

It is a Porter Cable Model 557 Plate Joiner Kit. The tool looks brand new and only has maybe 2 hours of use on it. Seller wants $100 for the entire package which includes everything the tool originally came with including the case and manual, as well as 1000+ various biscuits.

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

8314 posts in 3115 days


#9 posted 09-17-2014 06:01 PM

They are quite useful, especially if you don’t have
equipment for doweling or pocket screws. I have
those things and more but there are times when
the plate joiner is the most straightforward way
to get the result I want.

Biscuits are useful for alignment, for gluing melamine
or pre-finished plywood carcases, etc. The tilting
fence makes the plate joiner the quickest tool
short of something like the festool domino for
joining unusual angles.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile

TheWoodenOyster

1275 posts in 1402 days


#10 posted 09-17-2014 08:55 PM

I use mine quite a bit. Nothing beats it for gluing up tabletops. It can do medium duty cabinets too if you incorporate a few rabbets. I like mine and would suggest getting one if you have a shot for a good deal.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

3668 posts in 1188 days


#11 posted 09-17-2014 09:14 PM

I used my Porter Cable pretty regularly for the alignment of boards in panel glue ups. It helps quite a bit and prevents boards from getting way out of whack then having to plane a lot of thickness off to get the panel flat.

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

809 posts in 2317 days


#12 posted 09-18-2014 01:32 AM


It is a Porter Cable Model 557 Plate Joiner Kit. The tool looks brand new and only has maybe 2 hours of use on it. Seller wants $100 for the entire package which includes everything the tool originally came with including the case and manual, as well as 1000+ various biscuits.

- TexasWonder

That’s almost 60% off of a new one, If I didn’t have the same set up I’d buy it in a heartbeat, you’re glad to have one when you need it and whenever that happens with a tool I got a wicked deal on it’s TWICE as sweet!

BTW 2 yrs Houston, 7 yrs Richardson & 7 years in Mckinney, long story for how I got to Maryland, but she’s worth it!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

8314 posts in 3115 days


#13 posted 09-18-2014 01:40 AM

I think they got a bad rap after awhile for a few reasons.

1) the Lamello was the best, probably still is, and it
went out of patent and cheaper designs came
on the market and the fences were often not
very good.

2) there were a lot of magazine articles where authors
were outright substituting biscuit joints for mortise
and tenon in every furniture application, including
critical joints in things like chairs. People tried that
out and sometimes the joints failed.

3) folks started building slot mortisers and plunge
routers became cheaper and more common so
loose tenon mortises became easy and cheap to
make.

Later pocket screws became a thing.

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2192 posts in 1492 days


#14 posted 09-18-2014 07:12 AM

Here’s something I’ve noticed about having/not having tools over the years: if I don’t have the tool I think I’ll need, I sometimes won’t even tackle a job. Yes, I’ll try to think of alternative ways, sometimes even make a jig or adapt some other tool. But other times it’s just not worth the bother.

But having the right tool for the job often means that I’ll jump right in without hesitation, and the job will go just as I figured it should.

This is more of a carpentry example, certainly not fine woodworking, but a hammer drill comes to mind. Drill a hole in concrete with the old star drill and drilling hammer? Spare me! But a good hammer drill makes that a piece of cake.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

809 posts in 2317 days


#15 posted 09-18-2014 01:13 PM

+1 Scissors!

So often when the head scratch goes to the butt scratch and you’re trying to figure how in the hell am I going to do THAT!, it’s great to have a tool with a solution rather than having to whomp up a possible one time jig.

Speaking of which if any of you Lj’s need a jig to make these let me know it’s still collecting dust.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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