In my, admittedly narrow, world the primary use for a biscuit jointer is aligning laminate worktops. The joining together is, of course, done with toggle bolts and glue.
That is a distinction that some people fail to make. Biscuits are not intended to hold two pieces of timber together – they will help, but it is the glue and the clamps that do the real job.
If you are aligning timber for a table top you are probably going to sand or plane it, so the alignment doesn’t have to be perfect. If, however, you are aligning laminate worktops it follows that the surfaces can’t always be sanded, so the alignment either has to be really precise, or it has to allow for a tiny amount of adjustment.
The preferred option is to have a little adjustment so most biscuits are very slightly loose in the slot. This is intentional – it is not the fault of the jointer.
The biscuit, usually beech, is dried and compressed, and when it is mixed with water-based wood glue it expands slightly and, because the glue dries, the biscuit stays expanded.
If you don’t keep your biscuits dry they will gradually expand with the humidity in the air, and will then be tight in the slot before you start, which means you don’t then have any adjustment. In the past I have popped the biscuits in the oven to remove the moisture, but really they are best when new and compressed.
If you have good biscuit discipline and have kept them dry then you simply need to proceed as follows:-
• Cut the slots so they line up
• Squirt in the glue and insert dry biscuits from the jar
• Clamp the surfaces together and make any minute adjustment to line up the two faces
• Stop the surfaces moving while the glue sets
Having got that little sermon out of the way we can now look at this biscuit jointer from Triton. If you don’t know Triton they were originally an Australian company.
They make some interesting woodworking equipment, either under the Triton brand or under GMC. They are well thought of in Australia, and are making significant inroads into the UK woodworkers market.
The kit seems well made and robust – apart from some annoying plastic knobs that can be damaged – and you can get all the spares. The good thing is that they are usually significantly cheaper than their competitors.
We have to acknowledge that most, if not all, of this comes out of China, but that is the same with many high end manufacturers.
The magnesium alloy plate is solid and accurate. For 90 degree cuts there is a depth stop that slides over the front. If you want to cut angles for mitre joints then the depth stop has to be removed.
This is easy enough, but the one on my test sample was tight and needed a piece of fine emery run up the edge to help it slide easily. There is a depth stop turret, as you would find on a router, so you can set it up for different size biscuits and just spin it around if you need to.
The machine includes a spare set of brushes and a dust bag for the small amount of chips cut out by the TCT cutter. The chip or dust removal into the bag is as near perfect as you can get.
You could spend twice as much on a biscuit jointer, and get rack and pinion adjustment on the depth stop, and better guides for mitres – which would make it easier to use, but not get any more accuracy or reliability.
If you are currently using a router to cut biscuits then this is a step up, but if you are setting up a joinery shop you need something a bit better than this.
For more information visit www.tritontools.com