Biscuit joiner

Biscuit joiner

A biscuit joiner or sometimes plate joiner is a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. A biscuit joiner uses a small 100mm (4") diameter tungsten carbide tipped circular saw blade to cut a crescent shaped hole (called the mouth) in the opposite edges of two pieces of wood or wood composite panels. An oval-shaped, highly-dried and compressed wooden biscuit (usually beech) is covered with glue, or glue is applied in the slot. The biscuit is immediately placed in the slot, and the two boards are clamped together. The wet glue expands the biscuit, further improving a bond that is often stronger than the wood itself.


The biscuit joining system is a recent development, having been invented in 1956 in Liestal Switzerland by Hermann Steiner. Steiner opened his carpenters shop in 1944 and in the middle of the 50’s, whilst looking for a simple means of joining the recently introduced chipboard, invented almost by accident the now world-famous Lamello Joining System. In the succeeding years there followed further developments such as the circular saw and the first stationary biscuit (plate) joining machine in 1956 followed by the first portable biscuit joiner for Lamello grooves in 1968. In 1969 the family operation was incorporated by the name of Lamello AG.

American Tool Manufacturer Porter Cable produces a Biscuit Joiner with interchangeable blades, enabling the user to cut both 4" and 2" biscuit slots.

Tool Manufacturer Festool now manufactures a biscuit joiner, called the Domino, which uses a rotary blade. The blade cuts a domino shaped slot which provides a surface area larger than typical biscuit slots for greater bond strength. The cutter is capable of accommodating a variety of domino sizes.


Biscuits are predominantly used in joining sheet goods such as plywood, particle board and medium-density fibreboard. They are sometimes used with solid wood, replacing mortise and tenon joints as they are easier to make and almost as strong. They are also used to align pieces of wood when joined edge-to-edge in making wider panels.


The workpieces are brought together and the user marks the location for the biscuits. Precise measurement is not required, as the biscuits are hidden when the pieces are assembled, so a quick pencil stroke that marks both pieces where they align is all that is required. The parts are separated and the machine is used to cut the slots in each piece. The machine has reference marks on the center line of the blade for easy alignment to the marks on the materials being joined.

The body of the machine with the blade is spring loaded and in the normal position the blade is retracted. The operator aligns the machine and uses a firm pressure to push the body forward against the base plate to make the cut. The waste material is blown out of the slot on the right of the base plate.

Because the slots are slightly longer than the biscuits, it is still possible to slide the panels sideways after the joint is assembled (before the glue sets). This fact makes the biscuit joiner easy to use, because it does not require extreme accuracy or jigs to achieve perfect joints.

The depth of the cut can be altered by an adjustable stop, the smaller base can be rotated through 90 deg. and accessories are provided for altering the offset of the base to the blade (for use with thicker or thinner materials as required). Some models allow slots to be cut at angles other than 90 deg. to the joining face, for example 45 deg., which greatly speeds up the assembly of things like cabinets.

The sizes of standard biscuits

Note: The mm sizes are exact and taken direct from the Lamello website. No source is provided for inch sizes which do not appear equivalent.

ee also

*Dowelmax — another loose-tenon joining method


* Bruce Gray, "Testing Joints to the Breaking Point", "Fine Woodworking magazine", No.148, April 2001.

External links

* [ history]
* [ Lamello UK]
* [ History of Lamello AG]
* [ Biscuit Sizes]

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