How to Join Boards Without a Biscuit Joiner?

In this article, we will help you know how to join boards without a biscuit joiner. Here are some techniques to help you connect woods efficiently.

There are multiple ways of joining woods; one way is Wood Joinery. It is an artistic process of joining two boards together by cutting its edges. Butt Joint, Mitered Joint, and Mortise and Tenon Joint are some of the primary wood joinery techniques. Another tool that also helps is Dowel Jig. It is a purpose-made tool for joining boards.

Are you ready to know more pieces of advice about joining boards? Here’s a woodworking hack that will help you combine woods without a biscuit joiner.

What Is a Biscuit Joiner?

A Biscuit Joiner is a tool for joining pieces of wood together instead of cutting the wood to fit the edges together. It is a popular option for making furniture, cabinets, and shelves. The tool creates biscuit-shaped slots for inserting the ‘biscuits,’ and combines the lumbers.

Apart from Biscuit Joiners, there are other methods to join woods like wood joinery and using Dowel Jigs. These techniques and tools are efficient in joining two blocks of wood. When done properly, it can hold pieces of wood like a brick.

What are the Different Kinds of Wood Joinery?

Different Kinds of Wood Joinery

Wood joinery is the art and science of efficiently combining blocks of wood to form a new product. As mentioned, there are various wood joinery processes.

In this section, we will discuss the top five most basic wood joinery methods that you can use if you don’t have a Biscuit Joiner.

1. Butt Joint

Butt Joinery is the easiest joinery method of combining two pieces of wood, wherein you glue up an end grain on the surface of another piece of wood.  However, it also has the weakest joints among all kinds of wood joinery. It’s because there’s a slight chance that the glue can’t give enough lateral strength.

  • When to Use Butt Joint? It is your best option when working on a result that requires a faster outcome more than the quality. It is also suitable for small and simple projects that don’t require elegant beautiful looks.

2. Mitered Butt Joint

Mitered Butt Joint joins two boards at an angle of 45 degrees, so there’s no open grain visible. These joints are universal in most wooden picture frames. The huge advantage of this is that there will be no visible end grains, and it looks more pleasing. You have to cut the edge of the end grain of all the pieces of wood at a 45-degree angle, and put glue to combine all the pieces.

  • When to Use Mitered Butt Joint? These are applicable when you’re doing frames or stylish boxes. The miters look elegant that it can also be an additional design. However, you will have to glue it up properly so the edges will hold longer.

3. Half-Lap Joint

A Half-Lap Joint is one of the traditional wood joinery methods, and it has been around for many years. All edges that you combine must have the same thickness, and size to fit them well. It combines two pieces of wood, wherein you remove a part from each lumber with equal size and thickness,  so the two boards fit together seamlessly. 

  • When to Use Half-Lap Joint? This method is excellent for making workshop storage items like cabinets. It offers more stylish looks, plus it is also durable to hold the pieces together for a long time.

4. Mortise and Tenon Joint

Mortise and Tenon Joint is another classic wood joinery technique. It is the most durable, and one of the most reliable methods. It has a tenon and mortise to fit the pieces of wood together. More often, the tenon has shoulders that seat when the joint fully enters the mortise hole.

A mortise is a slot specially cut to fit the tenon. Usually, you will cut a tall and wide tenon on one wood, and a slot for it on the other lumber to serve as the mortise. Generally, the size of both cuts is about 1/3 of the thickness of your piece.

  • When to Use Mortise and Tenon Joint? Mortise and Tenon Joint combine two pieces of wood at an angle of 90 degrees. You will insert the tenon to the mortise, and hold them together using wood glue. It is essential in building heirloom pieces to get better quality.

5. Dovetail Joint

A Dovetail Joint is another classic joinery method, which beautifully adds class to any woodworking piece. A Dovetail Joint looks beautiful and sturdy. Aside from providing strength, it is also decorative. Making the Dovetail Joint is a challenge. It is not simple and it requires your complete attention.

The edges look like pieces of a puzzle – it includes many shoulders, pins, sockets, and tails. It has various sizes and angles depending on your material, and how you want it to look. The good news is that handy dovetail marker, and a marking knife is now available for easier application.

  • When to Use Dovetail Joint? Dovetail joinery is perfect if you’re making a drawer. The tails and pins of both pieces of wood look like they interlock, and add reliable support on the material.

Click here for more information on when to use dovetail joints.

Using Dowel Jig as an Alternative to Biscuit Joiner

How to Use a Dowel Jig Tool

Biscuit Joiners are excellent in keeping the glued-up parts aligned. They also add extra strength to hold the material in place.

They come in the form of thin, but sturdy wooden chips. It almost looks the same as a real biscuit. On the other hand, Dowel Jigs have the same purpose, except that they are circular in shape.

Instead of curving a slot to fit a tenon, you have to drill a hole to fit Dowel Jigs. Today, you can buy Dowel Jigs tools that offer a combination of strength, simplicity, and accuracy or you can make your do-it-yourself Dowel Jig.

How to Use a Dowel Jig Tool?

For as low as a hundred dollars, you can buy a Dowel Jig Tool that can join boards. All you need is this tool and a drill. It is an excellent tool for adding extra strength to your workpiece. Most furniture still uses Dowel Jigs over Biscuit Joiners.

How Does a Dowel Jig Works?

It’s almost the same when using a Biscuit Joiner. The process begins at the Steel Block – the heart of any Dowel Jig. It is where you install bushings in various sizes. Bushings are where you put your drill to create holes precisely. Make sure that the size of your bushings and Jigs match together.

You need first to draw a mark where you want to drill a hole then, clamp your wood using the built-in screw handle of the Dowel Jig. Once you’ve aligned them, you can start drilling at least three holes to ensure durability. Then, insert the Jigs into the holes and combine the wood. You can put glue on the hole, and clamp both blocks of wood together. Hold them in place until the glue dries up. 

What is the Appropriate Size of Biscuit Joiners?

As a rule of thumb, using the largest biscuit size is the best option. It will provide the most significant amount of strength and reliability. Most woodworkers prefer the size they call #20 biscuits. However, you can switch to a smaller size when working on thinner material. 

What is the Appropriate Size for Dowel Jigs?

The most common Dowel Jig sizes are 3/16-inch, 1/4-inch, 5/16-inch, 3/8-inch, 7/16-inch, and 1/2-inch. Use 1/4-inch for woods that are less than 3-1/4 inches. Then, 3/8-inch or Fluted Dowels are ideal for woods that are more than 3-1/4 inches.


Can You Use a Biscuit Joiner on Plywood?

Biscuit Joiners are perfect to use for plywood since biscuits are thin. However, it’s more appropriate to use Dowel Jigs and other Wood Joinery methods if you would like thicker kinds of wood.

When to Use Biscuits?

Biscuits are great in nearly every application. However, it’s always safe to consider the width or thickness of your material. Some woods that are 3 inches thick may not be suitable for biscuits. If so, you might need more substantial ones.

What is Stronger? Biscuits, Wood Joinery or Dowels?

In most cases, Dowels are most durable of the three methods. When done correctly, Biscuits are as reliable as a mortise and tenon joint. Meanwhile, Wood Joinery is all about precision in cutting, and gluing-up your material.

Final Words

Overall, joining boards are still possible even without using biscuit joiners. You can always do it by using some of the most common wood joinery methods. Wood joinery methods require precision and effort to cut the wood precisely with the right angle.

Once you’ve cut the edges of the wood beautifully, it can also add elegant style to your workpiece. However, if you only prefer a simple method, using a Dowel Jig is your best option. All you need is the complete set of Dowel Jig tool, and a drill to join boards efficiently.

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