Here’s a useful little workshop aid that I hadn’t seen before I re-enrolled at college, close to four-years ago now. I’ve bought biscuits from several different manufacturers. Lamello are my current favourites and I’ve also used Trend – the less said about Silverline, though, the better!! One problem I often run in to – and, I’m sure you’ve found the same for yourself – is that some biscuits will be significantly tighter than others. Where most will slip in and out of a slot with ease, there’s always one or two that need a hammer to drive them in. On the other side of the coin; getting them out again can be a burden in itself – I’ve had many biscuits ‘shatter’ whilst I’m trying to lever them out with a pair of pincers, leaving ‘fragments’ of compressed beech that are no easier to remove.
All you need here is a scrap of 18mm MDF (thinner stuff may also suffice). I’ve added a softwood ‘hook’ below the front edge so that I can safely hold this jig in my vice. On top, there are three shallow recesses; each one cut ‘freehand’ with a router to a depth of no more than 3mm. One size fits each of the three common sizes for biscuits (0, 10 and 20) and a small hole either side of the recess allows you to lever them out again safely. All you do is press the biscuit in to the correct recess and take a couple of thin shavings.
Before any says it, yes, I do store my biscuits in air-tight containers (pickled onion jars, etc,) that prevent moisture from getting in. Yet, I still suffer from swollen biscuits, which is why I’ve made this jig. I imagine that part of the problem though, is that I buy my biscuits in bulk boxes of one-thousand at a time (particularly for the no.20s, which I use all the time). Honestly, it is so much cheaper than buying them in bags of one-hundred, if you do a lot of biscuit-jointing, that is.
I’ve seen people achieve the same objective by resorting to the art of sanding – which most commonly involves inverting a wooden sanding block, covering it in a coarse sheet of abrasive paper and then running the biscuit back and forth over the top. Well, the jig I’ve made creates no dust and you’re not at risk of abrading the ends of your finger tips, considering that you’re working with a material that’s only 4mm thick.
I hope you’ve found this quick-tip to be useful.
Thanks for reading.