Biscuits or the Festool system...Biscuit joiner or the blade for a router???????

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Forum topic by msinc posted 01-17-2017 01:43 AM 4073 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1416 days

01-17-2017 01:43 AM

Which is the preferred or “best” method? Standard biscuits {plates} or the system that Festool offers? Any advantages or disadvantages either way? I know the Festool set up is a lot more expensive, but is it worth the difference?? I have no doubt that it is stronger, but for many years all we did was glue the boards together to make a panel. I thought the strength or at least most of it came from the glue and that the plates or biscuits were just really there for alignment to save time scraping, planing and sanding. I guess the big question is do biscuits even do that??
What about the router tooling vs. the actual plate joiner tool
? Same end result? Or is it worth the extra money?? Thanks in advance for any info!!!!!

16 replies so far

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2902 days

#1 posted 01-17-2017 01:58 AM

Whats the best tool/method to do what? Since you mentioned panel glue ups, none of the above. Make several sets of clamping cauls to use. The wood will break before the glue joint. Once made the cauls are much faster, just as good of alignment, and cheaper.

View Woodknack's profile


13512 posts in 3293 days

#2 posted 01-17-2017 02:18 AM

I feel like you answered your own question.

-- Rick M,

View ArtMann's profile


1483 posts in 1729 days

#3 posted 01-17-2017 02:26 AM

I have to agree with OSU55. Some time you should glue up a couple of scrap planks with good clamping but no other alignment or reinforcement. Let the glue cure for a couple of days and then put the assembly in a strong vise and attempt to break the glue joint. It is all but certain the wood will split apart somewhere else rather than separate at the glue joint. I do use dowels for alignment purposes occasionally. If you use a good jig like the Dowelmax or Jessem, it will provide more accurate alignment than biscuits. Dowels are also a good alternative to loose tenon joinery. A good dowel jig, although expensive, provides a more economical solution for most situations than the Domino.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2908 days

#4 posted 01-17-2017 03:35 AM

Dowels and dominos come in for joints where you would normally use a mortise and tenon – or I guess traditionally would use an M&T. Such as end grain to long grain joints on a table where the apron meets the leg. Biscuits are the least precise as there is always some play in the biscuit slot. Dowels, M&T and Dominos can be very accurate and very strong.

You could also consider making yourself a slot mortiser, which can recreate the domino joint for way less than the cost of a domino. If you get metric blades, you can even use the dominos themselves. I am considering building one myself. I enjoy hand chopping mortises, but I don’t always have a lot of shop time.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Matt's profile


163 posts in 1864 days

#5 posted 01-17-2017 05:20 AM

I have a Dewalt biscuit slot cutter and it works great However as already mentioned panels will break away from the glue joint and the biscuits while they do work well for alignment, I haven’t found much of a use for it after improving my WW skills. I’d guess my skills are somewhere between “biscuits are something I watched Norm do and it looked fun and easy” (And they are) and “I kind of have a clue, but every time I’m in the shop, I gain more experience and the more experience I get the more I realize how little I really know about WW”.

In a situation where I would use a M&T joint, a biscuit isn’t going to provide the strength I’m looking for. Until I purchase a Festool Domino (I drank the koolaid with a sander and dust extractor), I’ll keep doing the traditional M&T joint. Will I sell the Dewalt, not likely, I’m sure that something during my WW future will benefit from biscuits (and I’ve got about 940 sitting in a box). I’ll add, that if I could have the money I spent back, I’d spend it on something else.

-- My "projects" always look better when your glasses are broken.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1416 days

#6 posted 01-17-2017 06:07 AM

Thanks for all the replies so far…it’s sounding like my vision {albeit inexperienced} regarding plate joints and such is based on misinformation. What I am getting here is that they don’t line up anything and they are not a stronger joint. Next question of course is….why does anyone use them? Or is it just one of those tools that are sold because people believe it might be a good idea and so they buy it??

I still don’t know why half of my posts is automatically italicized!!!

View Tabletop's profile


139 posts in 1660 days

#7 posted 01-17-2017 09:02 AM

Ive used biscuits in the past for all my table tops but now only occasionally. I have found that making genuine barnwood table tops they can be useful. Depending upon the look my customer wants there may be several inches where the boards either lack sound wood or there may be a slight gap. In these situations I use biscuits. It seems like I’ve also read, heard, about them being useful in picture frames structurally and aesthetically. I’m sure there are other applications but in my world it was a waste of money. A simple spline does the trick when I need it.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6557 posts in 3406 days

#8 posted 01-17-2017 12:29 PM

Biscuits are (I think) much maligned and (IMHO) they do have a use in the shop. But they are very different from tenons (Festool) and while it’s common to compare them I see them as very different solutions. I have both, as well as some other tenon cutting stuff and won’t give up any of them.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2908 days

#9 posted 01-17-2017 02:08 PM

Yes, biscuits work well as splines in miter joints, and to help keep things close to aligned in large glue ups where things may otherwise slide around too much. They also add strength to plywood edge to plywood face joints.

They just aren’t a replacement for m&t, and while they help with alignment you’ll still need to be careful.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1661 days

#10 posted 01-17-2017 02:27 PM

I use biscuits often, and it’s primarily for alignment, though I use cauls too. The better the glue up accuracy, the smaller the needed corrections. And I have used them for end grain type joinery like 45 degree meters.

View eflanders's profile


329 posts in 2763 days

#11 posted 01-17-2017 02:52 PM

Biscuits have a place and in my humble opinion are best used when you are making perpendicular or angled joints. One exception would be if you need to add some form of support to an existing joint such as a repair. Otherwise they aren’t really needed.

View Marcial's profile


198 posts in 1458 days

#12 posted 01-17-2017 04:13 PM

As an amateur WW/carpenter who can use all the help he can get, I’ve found the Domino an invaluable tool. It’s frickin’ cold here in NW Oregon and I’m trying to save on my heating bill by not warming up the shop. So I’ve been catching up on me blogging/posting/lurking. Next post in projects will feature some stuff where domino joinery came in handy. I still do M&T for doors or heavy stress-bearing joints. I used dowels when I was starting off. They were adequate to the task but not a satisfying technique. I’ve never used biscuits so can’t comment.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1416 days

#13 posted 01-17-2017 04:35 PM

Thanks again for all the replies…it’s quite an education and I am very grateful for it!!!! So just to be clear in all this, my own interest in the biscuit thing was not really for strength…I sort of got off on that tangent when the guy tried to sell me the domino set up. His reasoning or I guess an added selling point was that it was “so much stronger” than biscuits.
My primary concern is with alignment. I get that there are ways you can align boards when gluing up a panel with nothing more than clamping cauls…I guess if you are careful it is fair to say you could maybe get away without even that. My interest is strictly alignment, at this point my question is if you can have excellent alignment with biscuits then why fight it without them? But it still sounds like they are only halfway there and don’t really work for that either? It seems like if the tool used to cut the slots is fairly precise and the biscuits fit the slot snug enough then they should be able to keep things matched up good enough to warrant their use and tool purchase price…...but I am not really hearing that.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6557 posts in 3406 days

#14 posted 01-17-2017 04:55 PM

I will say they help with alignment. This is true more-so (IMHO) with longer pieces that might sag a little at one end while your trying to get them clamped up. But I find them useful on short work as well, just not as much. They are great for strengthening end grain to end grain joints…like miters on a frame.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CharlesA's profile


3458 posts in 2710 days

#15 posted 01-17-2017 05:01 PM

I think it is rather simple:

1) although a biscuit joiner and a domino look alike, they perform different functions.
2) the Domino is a loose tenon system that replaces traditional mortise and tenon.
3) Some people like to align panel and other joints with a biscuit joiner, some don’t. The biscuits don’t add strength.

My two cents: if your boards are milled well and you have a good caul/clamping approach, there’s no problem gluing panels flat without biscuits. It’s just not that hard to align them. If you want to use biscuits, that’s good, too.

Here’s a good tutorial on making and using cauls:

-- "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

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