My latest tool acquisition is a biscuit joiner, just ordered it (I am really just an amateur builder, would not call myself a wood working enthusiast). I have used a friend's before for some rather simple joints (e.g. I joined two 1x6x12s to form a really long hallway baseboard that looks seamless).

However, what I would like to do now is make a joint where an edge of one 1x piece of lumber goes into the actual wide surface of another piece, forming a T (in fact, the pedestal of the T is the former and the cap is the latter). While it's clear how I would make biscuit cuts in the pedestal (where they go in the 3/4" edge), is there a way to make corresponding cuts in the middle of the wide surface with a regular biscuit joiner?


Actually most newer biscuit joiners make this easy. Mine has a lot of adjustments available.

The first which most have (though not all) is a depth adjustment, allowing you to find the center of different sized boards, or on really thick boards to put two rows of biscuits.

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The other adjustment is the angle of the fence allowing use of making biscuit joints in 45 degree corners (and many others). Mine will adjust to 90 degrees, allowing me to make a biscuit cut on any surface large enough to handle it.

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And the last adjustment is for cutting different sized slots for the different sized biscuits available, #0, 10, 20 etc.

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is there a way to make corresponding cuts in the middle of the wide surface with a regular biscuit joiner?

Unless your biscuit joiner has a removable fence or one that you can adjust to zero angle, most likely not. The blade for a biscuit joiner only sticks out ~3/4" at the most when cutting, and the fences I've seen for them stick out further still. Thus, the blade would not stick out past the fence.

However, if your biscuit joiner has a removable fence, this should be a pretty trivial task. Simply remove the fence and use another board as a fence to get your biscuits at the middle of your wide piece.

Another way to get the same effect, though this is a lot more work, is to rip the cap piece in half, cut your biscuits to accept the pedestal, assemble the L-shaped piece, then glue back on the rest of the cap.

  • Do they even make biscuit joiners without removable/fold-away fences?
    – Jason C
    Dec 16 '15 at 5:23
  • @JasonC, is that supposed to read "without removable" or "with removable?"
    – grfrazee
    Dec 16 '15 at 12:47
  • Without. I've never seen one where you couldn't make the face flat.
    – Jason C
    Dec 16 '15 at 14:30
  • @JasonC, ah, I see. I guess my dad has an older one then. His only has a 90-deg fence that you can't take off.
    – grfrazee
    Dec 16 '15 at 14:31

Most biscuit joiners will let you either take the fence off or fold it up to 90 degrees (e.g. the Makita PJ7000 - I own this - has a removable fence, while the Dewalt DW682's fence folds up to 90 degrees). After this, like the other answers say, the T joints are fairly trivial. Biscuit joints lend themselves very well to this, in fact.

There is a great how-to by Ken Collier of The Family Handyman here. Reproducing some of that (it uses shelving as an example but these same marking and cutting techniques can be applied to anything):

This is where joinery shines: the T-joint, where a fixed shelf meets the sides of a cabinet (Photos 1 – 3). The sideways wiggle room that biscuits give you allows you to get the edges of the shelf and the sides perfectly flush, and the case looks good, with or without a face frame, both inside and out. And since the glue is all on the biscuits, there’s rarely any squeeze-out to clean up.

The process for making a T-joint begins with marking on the edge of the sides where the top of the shelf should be. Stand the shelf in position and mark the biscuit locations. Then lay the shelf on its side, lined up with its location mark. Clamp the side and shelf together and to your bench, with the edges flush to each other. Now cut your biscuit slots, first in one piece, then in the other. Do the other side of the cabinet the same way, making sure the shelf is oriented the right way: front to front, bottom to the bottom.

enter image description here

There is also a video on that site, if you scroll down to the Making Cabinet Boxes With T-Joints section, at the bottom of it you will find the video.

Another more to-the-point video can be found on the Lamello site. There's a series of product demonstration videos on that page, the one you want is titled Dividing Panel Joint and is currently the 4th one over in the series.

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