To Biscuit Joiners

and easiest to read.

Fence-angle adjustment is a nice feature to have if you make miter joints or join pieces at odd angles where you need to cut slots in a beveled edge. For setting angles, there are basically two types of fences: fixed and adjustable. (See photos below.)

Fixed fences, like those on the AMT, Freud, Elu and Skil, have a 90° side for straight cuts and a 45° side for miter cuts. To cut a miter, you install die fence with its 45° side facing down to register against the face of the work, and then make a plunge cut into the beveled edge. (See photo, below left.) This works all right, but since the reference surface becomes the inside of the miter joint, you may find that the outside corner won't align properly if the stocks' thicknesses aren't equal.

DeWalt, Ryobi, Lamello Top 10 and Porter-Cable provide a better way to cut miters. With these, you capture the beveled edge of the work between the

machine's fence and faceplate, which references and aligns the outside surfaces of the joint. (See photos, below middle and right.)

For more versatility in setting angles, the DeWalt, Ryobi. Virutex and Lamello Top 10 machines have adjustable fences with protractor scales, so you can set the fence precisely to any angle over a 90° range (135° on the Ryobi).

Most of these adjustable fences worked well, but locking the angle setting on the Virutex was awkward because the lock knobs for angle and height arc interdependent: to change the angle, you have to unlock the height setting and vice versa.

Depth-of-cut adjustment is another feature to consider. For standard work, you'll want a machine with preset depth stops to accommodate the three standard biscuit sizes. All the machines but the Elu offer these stops. However, if you intend to use some of

Using Dewalt Biscuit Machine

the special accessory biscuits that are now on the market, it's nice to have a fourth preset for this depth. Only the DeWalt, Freud and Lamello machines offer additional depth stops.

The Elu is a different animal altogether. It uses a fine-adjustment knob to dial in depth over a wide range. This isn't as convenient as preset stops, but it allows you to set an exact depth easily when you're using this tool in its additional capacity as a groover.

Fit and finish—A biscuit joiner s fit and finish affects the precision of the plunge and whether the blade aligns square to the workpiece. As widi most machines, on the biscuit joiners we tested the fit and finish varied according to price. It was clear that the liigh-priced Lamellos were designed and built to the most exacting standards. With their precisely machined, nickel-plated aluminum plunge ways, they plunged more smoothly than any of the other units. But even the machines

Biscuit-joiner fences work in different ways for cutting miter joints. I.eft: fixed 45° fence« register against inside surface of work. Middle and right: Notched fences capture I leveled edge.

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