Use Your Router as a Biscuit Joiner

Router Tips 

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Use Your Router as a Biscuit Joiner



Recently I picked up a biscuit cutter set from Dimar Canada (photo 1) and couldn’t wait to give it a try.
 
Many projects need some form of joint. Biscuits not only hold projects together but also make aligning your stock very easy. The kit as pictured is set up for standard #0, #10 and #20 biscuits. It comes with: a ¼” or ½” shank; a 5/32” slot cutter; three sizes of bearings for the different size biscuits; and a sample of each biscuit.
 
To assemble the kit for routing, first you must choose the proper size bearing for the biscuit that you require. The large bearing is for the #0 biscuits, medium for #10 and small for #20.
 
Photo 2 shows how to assemble the cutter and bearing to the shaft. I used using the #10 biscuit bearing for my cuts.
 

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Safety Note: the nature of this cutter allows the user to possibly assemble the slot so that it will spin backwards on your router. BE VERY CAREFUL during assembly. The carbide should be facing you and should turn in a counter clockwise direction in your router.
 
Now that you have chucked up the cutter you must align it to the centre of your stock. Set up you router fence and isolate your bearing flush with the edge of your fence. Using a test piece, mark the centre of your board. Now align the centre of the carbide to the centre line that you have drawn (photo 3).
 

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Test this set up by cutting a small groove into your stock (photo 4). Now flip the board over and check to see if the cutter goes into the slot from the other side (photo 5). If it doesn’t slide right into the slot, you are half the distance off. Either raise or lower your cutter half of the distance that you are off and run another test.
 

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You are now ready to start cutting your biscuit slots. If you simply press your stock into the cutter you will find that the depth is right but the length is too short (photo 6). To compensate for this you must start your cut and then move your stock across the cutter to get the right length. The safest way to do this is to have stops on your fence (photo 7). Press your stock against the rear stop, pivot into the cutter and slide the board forward to the front stop. Now pivot off the cutter.
 

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Unless you have a very long fence you probably won’t be able to start and stop this way, so you will have to make some marks on your stock and on your fence. The length of cut for this cutter it 1 ⅜” on either side of centre for a #10 biscuit (photo 9).
 

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First make marks on your stock where you want to cut your biscuits (photo 10). Now make marks on your fence that are the same distance from centre as the length of your cut (photo 11).
 

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Pivot your stock into the cutter using your marks on your stock and the marks on the fence (photo 12). Slide your stock across to the second mark and pivot out.

This will make a perfect cut that will allow you to slide your biscuit back and forth the make alignment easier (photo 13).
 

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A biscuit will assist in the alignment of your stock, but if you don’t have a good jointed edge to start with you won’t get a better joint with the biscuit in place (photo 14).
 
Try using your cutter for face frames and mitres. Make sure that you use start and stop blocks for these cuts (photo 15).
 

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When you are using it for mitres, make an angled jig (photo 16), and then reverse it for the second cut (photo 17 & 18).
 

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Note: The router is a versatile tool that can be used to do a lot more than most woodworkers realize. Watch for future articles where I will show you a variety of ways to get the most out of your router. Next issue I will show you how to use your router as a jointer.
 
Guidelines to proper insertion of the Arbor into the Router Collet:
Insert the Arbor all the way into the collet, and pull it back to the maximum so that it is more than the diameter of the Arbor. For example:

If you use ¼” shank arbor, maximum pull back after shank has been fully inserted into collet, is ¼”.

If you use ½” shank arbor, maximum pull back after shank has been fully inserted into collet, is ½”.

The DIMAR bit may be run at the max RPM of your router machine.

If you find that the groove produced is too wide for the biscuits provided, stop using the machine and check your router machine and router bit for run-out.

After extensive usage, the carbide tipped groover (fly cutter) will need to be resharpened by a qualified person.

Use only brand name, quality wood biscuits made of Beech wood. They will be stronger, consistent in thickness and will ensure proper assembly and ease of use.
 



MARK EATON is founder of The National Router Academy