So what the heck is a biscuit joiner (or plate joiner)? Should biscuits even be joined without the benefit of the clergy? Or joined at the table with a cup of tea? The debate rages on. I recently got reacquainted with the DeWalt DW682K Biscuit Joiner after DeWalt sent us one to review. As a home hobbyist/furniture maker I was well versed in the utility and versatility of using biscuits to make tight strong joints in wood or other easily machinable materials in the shop. Join me as I walk you through my experience with the Dewalt DW682K Biscuit Joiner.
Just the Facts on the Dewalt DW682K Biscuit Joiner
The DeWalt DW682K Plate Joiner Kit has a powerful 6.5 amp motor for working with hard woods. It features a dual rack and pinion fence ensuring blade and fence parallelism for easily adjustable and accurate joints every time, as well as an integral one-piece fence that is adjustable and tilts 0-90°.
• 6.5 amp, 10,000 rpm motor provides power for working in the hardest woods
• Dual rack and pinion fence ensure blade and fence are always parallel for accurate joints every time
• Integral one-piece fence is adjustable and tilts 0-90°
• Flush cuts can be made at 0° without removing fence
• 45-degree locating notch in fence allows indexing off the outside surface of a mitered joint
• Non-marring, heavy-duty aluminum shoe allows joiner to be clamped for stationary work
• Retractable, anti-slip pins help hold work in place
• Preset depth stops for all common biscuit sizes
• Carbide blade
• Dust bag
• Vacuum adapter
• Torx® key
• Kit Box
The Dewalt DW682K Is One Sweet Cookie to Work With
At one point in my life I had a fairly well equipped wood shop. I spent a number of years acquiring the necessary basic woodworking tools as well as a number of specialty tools. Most of the finished output went to family and friends or was sold to finance further procuration of tools that struck my fancy. One of the workhorses in that shop was the DeWalt 682k biscuit joiner. Anytime I was doing a panel glue up, assembling shelves or furniture carcasses, putting together frames or almost any joinery task I typically turned to the DeWalt joiner. Creating strong, well-aligned glue joints is a snap with this tool. It is much faster and easier than dowels and certainly easier than a mortise. The DeWalt DW682K tool provided a great solution where a hidden joint was the proper solution.
How the Biscuit Works
The joint formed derives its strength from a hardwood disc, or biscuit, typically beech, that is inserted into slots that are machined into the pieces being joined. When glue is applied to the slots the biscuit is then inserted. Glue is also applied to the surfaces being joined. The biscuit will actually swell slightly in the machined grooves as it absorbs moisture, creating a strong joint as well as providing a guide for alignment. Clamps are then applied and the joint allowed to rest and set up for a time. Let’s take a look at the process and the tool plate joiner itself.
The Biscuit Joint Test Project
My wife and I are avid gardeners. Every year we dig out leftover packets of seeds as well as the new arrivals and then proceed to mix them up. Not on purpose, but it happens. We then sort through all the packs every time we are looking for something specific. This year, with the addition of our own greenhouse we decided to end the madness and come up with a system to sort and index the packets.
Looking at some old designs, one even employed by Thomas Jefferson, I came up with a simple cabinet that utilized horizontal shelves within a solid carcass. I started by cutting out the outer pieces and cutting the ends at 45 degrees, then cut out the slots for the biscuits.
The fence was set at 45 degrees, and there is a positive stop at that angle to ensure accuracy.
The depth of the fence was adjusted to ensure placement of the slot at the highest point possible in the joint to accommodate the biscuit without milling out the back of the joint.
Finally, the size of the slot is selected to match the size of the biscuit being used. The largest size that will fit the stock without showing provides the strongest joint. The slot size is adjusted by aligning the red notch with the size indicated on the adjusting knob.
Once the tool was set I marked the wood where I wanted the slots machined, applied the joiner and milled the slots. Alignment is easily accomplished as there are a number of index marks on the fence that you align with the mark on the stock. Glue is then applied to the slots, biscuits inserted and the joint is assembled.
Biscuit Joining For Our Seed Storage – Next Steps
The next step was to lay out the slots for the horizontal shelving. Since the load on these shelves was going to be very light I had no reservations going with standard 1 x 4 pine with a single #10 biscuit at either end. If the load was expected to be more substantial a thicker stock with multiple larger biscuits could be used. After marking the pieces up I then cut the slots for the horizontal shelves. It had been years since I had used this tool, the first few cuts I attempted to make on this flat surface did not turn out as well as I would have liked. The motor has a substantial amount of torque and the tool would twist slightly in my hand negatively impacting alignment. This was easily remedied by clamping a jig in place for each cut to give the fence two surfaces to work against.
Next steps were to cut slots into the ends of the shelf boards, insert biscuits and then glue and clamp the entire assembly.
That was the extent of the application for this tool on this job. Another area where the DeWalt DW682K Biscuit Joiner is useful is gluing up 2 or more boards to make a panel. The operation is essentially the same, choosing a biscuit size, setting the depth of cut appropriately, laying out the joints, making the cuts and doing the glue up and clamping.
Conclusions on This DeWalt Plate Joiner
It was good getting reacquainted with this fine tool. The directions that are included with the tool are comprehensive and precise. They detail the many functions of the tool. The only issue I had throughout the project was with the dust collection. When the bag was in place it would plug the discharge after 2 or 3 cuts. Removing the bag allows the dust to discharge directly at the operator during certain cuts, so removal is not a satisfactory solution. It can be connected to a shop vac or dust collection system with the included adapter, but that can be awkward in some situations. I found myself removing the bag, clearing the discharge chute and replacing the bag more frequently than I would have liked. Aside from that, the ease of operation and the precise nature of the fence adjustments should ensure good results in any application where a biscuit joint is appropriate.
The DeWalt DW682K Biscuit Joiner can be purchased at The Home Depot or wherever DeWalt tools are sold for around $178: