The amazing power of a biscuit

Maybe its a Southern thing, but I like biscuits. Sausage biscuits. Biscuits and gravy. Biscuits and honey butter. Wood biscuits. Bologna biscu………wait, did I just say wood biscuits? Yep, wood biscuits. And what are wood biscuits you may ask? Well, the pic on the right shows a handful of them.

They have actually been around the wood working circuit for quite some time. Many people use them when they join 2 boards together, be it a mitered joint (say a picture frame), a butt joint, or parallel boards (a table top). The cuts are made with a special cutter, shown to the left. Look closely and you’ll see it is basically just a saw set up on a side grinder. When the base is pushed against the wood a slot is cut that will accept the biscuit.

I primarily use biscuits when I glue my countertops. They are not necessarily for strength but more for helping to align the boards during the glue-up. My method is to run the boards through a jointer to insure both edges being glued will meet up without any gaps. Of course, this is something that normally requires the use of a jointer hand plane to tweak the fit. Once I have my boards laid out and everything fits nicely, I will mark the biscuit location on both boards and make the cuts needed. This pic shows the cut slot(s) with the glue line being dispensed.

The trick to the glue is to not use so much glue that it squeezes out during the clamp-up, creating a big mess (stain does not cover up glue which means it will need to be sanded / planed off entirely from the surface). The other thing to remember is that for a foolproof joint you need to have the entire glue surface covered in glue. This is best done with an old paint brush. Or my favorite is an old toothbrush, which is fairly easy to clean up and reuse (gluing, that is, not brushing your teeth).

If done properly, you’ll have edges that match up fairly close (a hand plane can be used to level out any differences) with very few gaps and very little glue squeeze-out.. Small gaps are acceptable as they can be filled prior to finishing, but large gaps can cause a weak joint.

And here is the almost finished product. Notice the joint where the two boards were joined. Pretty hard to find? I’d say that’s exactly what we were trying to accomplish. Now all that is left are 4-5 coats of lacquer and then to hand rub the surface for a rock hard, yet mirror-like finish.

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