This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 2, by multiple authors.
From: email@example.com (Craig Harpel)
Date: 6 Nov 91 15:30:48 GMT
Are you talking about horizontal (side-to-side), vertical (up-and-down),
or longitudinal (in-out) "play"? I've had my Porter-Cable 555 for several
months now, and the only "error" I've noticed stems from the fact that the
slots are slightly bigger than the corresponding biscuit. This causes some
horizontal "play" in the two pieces you're joining (which you want). In time,
the biscuits swell from exposure to the glue and fill the slot(s), making
the joint extremely strong. As far as "play" in the machine itself, however,
I've experienced none that I'm aware of. You do have my curiosity up though.
I'll have to go home tonight and check it out.
I've used my brother-in-law's Freud BJ and frankly, that's one reason I chose
the PC. I noticed no difference in the quality of the slots it cut, and I didn't
like the "screwdriver-style" way you have to hold the thing. I prefer the
pistol grip of the Porter-Cable (just personal preference - no right or wrong here). The PC is also quieter (irrelevant if you're wearing ear protection) due to
its belt drive. The other BJ's are gear drive. Another thing I watched for
was the presence of "nibs" on the plate to help hold it against the wood and stop
it from sliding side-to-side as you plunge the slot. These are totally lacking
in the new Skil BJ (plastic parts - stay away from this one! I don't care if it
comes with a dust bag or not!). I could go on and on, but the truth is that BJ's
are like most other power tools; you have to decide yourself which is most
comfortable for the way you work. As for this accuracy of cut issue, I don't think
we have that nailed down yet (pun intended!). Bennett, I seriously recommend the
book "The Biscuit Joiner Handbook" by ? (forgot the author). It gives specs and
reviews of several of the most popular BJ's (PC, Freud, ELU, Lamello, etc.). It
gives you an overall education on BJ's and allows you to see the different "styles".
Secondly and most importantly (something you already know), find retailers for the
one(s) you're considering and ACTUALLY TRY THEM OUT! It's not enough to just look
at them, you have to see how they "feel". Anyway, here's a positive recommendation
to offset the negative one (makes the choice real easy, don't it?)
Joel, I'd like to hear more about this precision of cut problem...