As a woodworker or DIYer, there are certain essential tools that, once you find them, help unlock your real potential. Among those tools is the trusty biscuit joiner. This power tool can help make creating strong joints and large, flat surfaces easier—and with better results.
Whether you’re gluing up a new work top for your shop bench or building a bookshelf from scratch, the best biscuit joiner can help. These handy tools use small, circular saw blades to cut slices in two pieces of wood, allowing you to insert a biscuit (a small, football-shaped chunk of compressed wood) in the two slots and thereby create a solid joint. The glue-covered biscuit then expands, locking the two boards together and creating an incredibly strong joint that glue alone can’t match.
Use this guide to learn the factors and features to consider when shopping for the best biscuit joiner, and why the following tools are considered to be among the best models available.
- BEST OVERALL: Makita PJ7000 Plate Joiner
- RUNNER-UP: DEWALT Plate Joiner Kit, 6.5-Amp (DW682K)
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: RYOBI 6 Amp AC Biscuit Joiner Kit
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Festool 574422 XL DF 700 Domino Joiner
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: PORTER-CABLE Plate Joiner Kit, 7-Amp (557)
- BEST FOR ROUTER: Yonico 14183q #10 Biscuit Joint Router Bit
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Biscuit Joiner
Once you have a biscuit joiner, you might wonder how you finished woodworking projects without one. You’ll no doubt come to rely on it a lot, so choosing a quality model is key. Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping for the best biscuit joiner.
Size and Weight
Usually the larger and heavier the tool, the better the quality of its parts, and a bruiser of a biscuit joiner will likely have a heavy-duty motor and high-quality slides (which guide the blade while it cuts to provide consistent results). However, a heavy biscuit joiner or a super high-end tool isn’t necessary or even ideal for everyone. There are plenty of midrange options weighing around 5 or 6 pounds—about half the weight of a high-end model—that might work for you.
Determining whether you need a burly biscuit joiner will come down to the types of projects and how often you’ll be using your joiner. For the overwhelming majority of DIYers, a midrange biscuit joiner will handle materials like oak and maple without issue. If you’re working in a cabinet shop and putting a joiner through its paces on a daily basis, you might want to consider the heavier-duty options.
Corded vs. Cordless
As with all power tools, the debate of corded versus cordless exists in the biscuit joinery world. Deciding on a style often just comes down to personal preference.
Almost all biscuit joiners are corded. Since most woodworking projects take place in a workshop, there’s usually power readily available. Also, it’s not typical to be climbing a ladder or working under a cabinet with a biscuit joiner, so portability isn’t really an issue.
Biscuit joinery puts quite the tax on a battery, so most manufacturers haven’t taken the dive into cordless joinery. However, there are a few cordless biscuit joiners available. These can be quite handy during projects like kitchen remodels, where you might need to join two sections of wooden countertops and would prefer not to set up an extension cord.
Power and Speed
Biscuit joiners need to be stout power tools, with tough parts and plenty of power and speed. While it might not take much power to bore a hole in pine or cedar, plunge-cutting a section of hickory or walnut can be a challenge.
The most important power-related factor to consider when shopping is a biscuit joiner’s amperage rating. Amperage refers to the current load that a motor can handle before its parts start to fail. This has a lot to do with the quality of individual components inside the tool and how well it can cool itself while running. Ideally, you’ll want a model with 5 to 7 amps.
When it comes to actually getting the work done, speed matters as well. The faster the motor, the faster it can spin the blade and cut your biscuit slot. Look for models with rpm ratings between 8,000 and 10,000 for good general use. The
Biscuit joiners use biscuits to join workpieces together. When you insert a glue-covered biscuit into a slot, it locks in to join two workpieces as one. Biscuits come in small, medium, and large sizes (#0, #10, and #20, respectively). To accommodate different-sized biscuits, most joiners have settings that adjust for deeper or shallower cuts, some cutting as deep as 3/4 inches; other models may require a blade change.
While biscuit size might not be a factor when shopping for a biscuit joiner, it can be important while working. For example, bookshelves and countertops might require a lot of gluing surface—and a bigger biscuit—while only a smaller biscuit might fit in a cabinet face frame.
Although biscuit joiners use circular-shaped saw blades, they’re quite a bit different than the blades you’ll find in a miter, table, or circular saw. They’re thicker, with much fewer teeth, and much smaller in diameter.
Burrowing a spinning blade into dense hardwoods over and over again builds up quite a bit of heat and pressure, so blade material and longevity matter. Most biscuit joiner manufacturers use carbide-tipped blades, as they’ll stay sharper longer than a lower-end steel blade, particularly for denser materials like walnut and hickory. They’ll also hold up better to the speeds of high-end biscuit joiners.
Cutting Angle and Depth
One feature most woodworkers appreciate about biscuit joiners is the tools’ versatility. The adjustable cutting angles provide the ability to cut slots in a wide range of situations. While edge-joining two boards is the most obvious use for biscuit joiners, they can also bore biscuit slots for mitered corners and angled joinery, or slots in the field of a workpiece for shelves or other uses. This is thanks to their adjustable fences, which you can set for your particular angle and bore an accurate slot.
Adjustable cutting depth is also an important feature. Swapping between preset depths allows you to use different biscuit sizes quickly without worrying if your joint will be tight or hold enough glue.
When choosing the best biscuit joiner for your workshop, consider handle preference. There are two main styles: barrel and D shaped.
Barrel-style handles can facilitate precise boring, so they’re better for control. Your hand is in line with the slot you’re cutting, making it easier to stay steady and bore an accurate slot. There are also many models with top-mounted handles to steady the tool even more.
D-shaped handles are less accurate but more comfortable. Your hand’s upright orientation is more natural and easier to push. However, your hand will be higher than the blade, so it’s possible to wobble and make a sloppy cut.
Biscuit joiners may include some additional features that can make storage simpler and cleanup easier.
A sturdy box will keep your biscuit joiner secure when it’s not in use. Many manufacturers package their tools in hard plastic containers that can store your joiner, a few biscuits, and other small items. These cases also make it a cinch to stack tools on a shelf or under a workbench.
As you bore slots with your biscuit joiner, you can make quite a mess with sawdust and wood chips. The best biscuit joiners come with bags that attach to the exhaust port, allowing you to catch most of these particles before they hit the ground or air.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’re familiar with most of the ins and outs of biscuit joiners, you’re ready to start shopping. This list includes some of the best biscuit joiners available for your woodworking projects; whether you’re a beginner, a pro woodworker, or somewhere in between, you should find the quality tool for your workshop here.
If you’re looking for an all-around biscuit joiner that really holds its own, the Makita PJ7000 Plate Joiner is worth checking out. This barrel-handled biscuit joiner has a 5.6-amp motor that produces up to 11,000 rpm, allowing you to cut through the densest woods for woodworking projects. It weighs just 5.5 pounds, has a maximum cutting depth of 3/4 inch, and includes a carrying case as well as a 4-inch carbide-tipped blade.
The PJ7000 offers lots of adjustability. The fence has a rack-and-pinion vertical adjustment that allows you to dial the joiner into the perfect height. You can also adjust the fence between 0 and 90 degrees, with positive stops at 0, 45, and 90. The PJ7000 also has six different depth adjustments, with one-touch stops for standard biscuit sizes of #0, #10, #20.
The DEWALT DW628K Plate Joiner Kit might be just the ticket if you’re looking for a high-quality biscuit joiner with a heavy-duty motor. This joiner features a 6.5-amp motor that runs up to 10,000 rpms, capable of cutting through dense hardwood.
The DW682K has plenty of high-end features. The fence has dual-sided vertical rack-and-pinion adjustments, which aims to keep the blade and fence as parallel as possible. You can adjust the fence between 0 and 90 degrees, with a positive stop at 45 degrees. It also has adjustments for #0, #10, and #20-size biscuits.
The DEWALT comes with a carbide blade, Torx key (for the blade), wrench, dust bag, and a soft bag for storage. It also includes a vacuum attachment, allowing you to hook your shop vac or dust collection system to the dust port for simple cleanup.
If you’re on the hunt for a versatile biscuit joiner for your workshop projects, and you’re on a bit of a budget, the Ryobi JM83K Biscuit Joiner is worth checking out. This kit has a tough 6-amp motor that produces an impressive 11,000 rpms for boring through the hardest woods. It comes with an assortment of biscuits, a dust bag, and a carrying case.
The Ryobi’s angle range makes it a unique tool. While most competitors offer only 0- to 90- degree angles, the Ryobi can go up to 135 degrees for improved functionality. Within its wide range, it has positive stops at 0, 45, 90, and 135 degrees. It has depth adjustments for #0-, #10-, and #20-size biscuits as well as rack-and-pinion vertical adjustment and a D-handle grip that’s comfortable to use.
The Festool 574422 XL DF 700 Domino Joiner might not be exactly a biscuit joiner, but it does serve the same purpose. However, it goes about it in a different and better way. The Domino uses Festool-specific hardwood tenons (candy bar-shaped inserts that take the place of traditional biscuits), boring as deep as 2.75 inches and providing a ton of glue surface for incredibly strong joints. Instead of a circular blade, it has a drill bit-like spiral cutter to bore the mortises.
Despite the unconventional joinery method, the Domino does have the flexibility of other biscuit joiners, with a few extras. You can adjust the fence angle between 0 and 90 degrees, with stops at 22.5, 45, 67.5, and 90 degrees—two more stops than its competitors. It also has seven stepped height adjustments for fast, easy, and accurate adjustments. You can choose between five depth settings, and the dust extraction is top-notch.
New to biscuit joinery? Consider the PORTER-CABLE Plate Joiner Kit. It features a wide fence angle range, multiposition depth stop, and a 7-amp motor that runs at 10,000 rpm, offering plenty of power for most projects.
As a beginner, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to upgrade from the PORTER-CABLE for quite some time. The fence tilts from 0 to 135 degrees, with a positive stop at 90 degrees. It also has seven depth stops, handling #0, #10, and #20 biscuits. It comes with a 4-inch blade, a centering plate, a chip deflector, a dust collection bag, an Allen wrench for blade changes, a carrying case, and the operating manual.
You may not have to invest in a joiner to do biscuit joinery for woodworking projects. The Yonico 14183q #10 Biscuit Joint Router Bit can turn your handheld router or router table into a biscuit joinery station. Clamp this bit into your router’s chuck, adjust the fence, and you’ll be able to create biscuit slots right away.
The Yonico Biscuit Joint comes in both 1/4- and 1/2-inch shank sizes, so you should be able to choose a size to work with your router. You can also choose between #10- and #20- size biscuits. The tool also features a ball-bearing guide as well as tungsten carbide cutting edges.
Safety Tips for Using a Biscuit Joiner
In general, biscuit joiners are safe power tools—but that could inspire some false confidence. As you become more comfortable using it, you might feel that you can hold the workpiece with one hand while you cut biscuits with the other. It’s best to avoid this temptation, as the front lip of the board could lift, potentially causing you to strike your hand with the running biscuit joiner. Instead, clamp your workpieces to your workbench for a stable base.
Before you start cutting slots for biscuits, do your best to ensure that there are no nails, knots, or other obstructions where you’ll be cutting. In most cases, the blade will simply cut through these obstructions, dulling the blade a bit. However, there is potential for the biscuit joiner to send a chunk of the obstruction flying with enough speed to hurt you.
Biscuit joiners can produce a lot of dust. While a dust collection system can help reduce the amount of sawdust you have to deal with, it can’t get it all. Be sure to wear a mask to avoid breathing in airborne dust and safety glasses to keep it out of your eyes. This safety gear is especially important when working with plywood and MDF. The glues and chemicals used in their manufacturing can be particularly irritating to your lungs and eyes.
- Clamp your workpiece to your bench to avoid potentially striking your hand with the biscuit joiner.
- Ensure that your workpiece is free of obstructions like nails and knots before cutting biscuit slots.
- Wear safety glasses and a mask to protect yourself from sawdust.
FAQs About Biscuit Joiners
While you may be excited about getting started with your new tool, if you still want more info, refer to the answers to these frequently asked questions about biscuit joiners and how they work. If you don’t see the information you need here, reach out to the manufacturer’s customer service department and speak with a representative.
Q. What is the difference between a plane, a jointer, and a biscuit joiner?
There are planes, jointers, and biscuit joiners, and they each work differently. A plane is a handheld tool that comes in different sizes and is used for flattening high spots or removing material from a board’s surface. A jointer is typically a floor-mounted power tool (though there are benchtop models as well) that’s used to create a perfectly flat and square board. A biscuit joiner creates slots for biscuits within a joint, creating extra glue surface and perfect orientation for joinery.
Q. What speed should I look for in a biscuit joiner?
To ensure that your biscuit joiner can handle hardwoods, look for one with a 9,000 rpm or higher top speed.
Q. How deep does a biscuit joiner cut?
Most biscuit joiners can cut as deeply as 3/4 inch, providing more than enough room for a #20 biscuit.
Q. How many biscuits should I use to join wood?
A good rule of thumb is to use a biscuit every 6 to 12 inches. For weight-bearing projects like shelves and countertops, 6 inches is best to provide support.
Q. What materials can a biscuit joiner work with?
You can use biscuits with a range of wood-based products: hardwoods, softwoods, plywood, MDF, and even laminated particleboard can work with a biscuit joiner.