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Old 05-05-2009, 08:33 PM   #1
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


So, I'm looking to make some bookcases for my wife (the most forgiving person I know and I have never done wood working but would love to get in to it and be able to build some things.

I've been looking at some of our furniture trying to figure out how they built the items and what materials/methods they used.

We have a lot of cherry in the house, and it seems to me they biscuit join (or some other method) a bunch of 3 - 4" together to make the side of a bookcase, or the top of the table, face of a door etc etc. It's hard to tell as the grains really match up well.

Is this the preferred method of making things? I would have thought for the large areas they just cut a large board. But then again I'm not even a baby in the world of carpentry
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:48 PM   #2
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


First of all there is a limited quantity of wide boards, it's more expensive, and have has greater chance of cupping. By edge gluing boards , every other one can be flipped so the growth rings are in opposite direction which helps make the top or side less susceptible to cupping.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:57 AM   #3
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


For bookcases I use plywood for the boxes and shelves. To cover the ply edges, you can veneer the edges or cut solid wood to cap it. The only solid wood I use would be the face frames or shelf edge stiffeners.
If you want doors on some of the units, they would/could be solid wood. Flat panel doors are 1/4" ply with a solid wood frame.
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:28 AM   #4
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


ok that makes sense for wide boards, again I'm new, sorry

so it is just glue for board to board no need to do biscuits? reason I ask is my current tools are limited and if I dont need to buy a joint maker then that helps save $

I'll probably start with plywood just so my mistakes a cheaper but I was curious on how the other stuff was made

thank you
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:20 AM   #5
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


As suggested above, edge glued boards are how small pieces of natural wood make a wide board. While glue may work by itself, bisquits strengthen the joint. But plywood does indeed simplify the process. Although plywood with other than pine, oak, birch, surfaces can get quite pricey. That is what stains are for, to simulate those finer wood species, on less expensive wood. That is also why fine furniture of cherry, walnut etc, cost a lot.
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:33 AM   #6
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


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Originally Posted by rschmitty View Post
ok that makes sense for wide boards, again I'm new, sorry

so it is just glue for board to board no need to do biscuits? reason I ask is my current tools are limited and if I dont need to buy a joint maker then that helps save $

I'll probably start with plywood just so my mistakes a cheaper but I was curious on how the other stuff was made

thank you
If I'm putting boards together, I'm bisquiting them, not just glueing them. If I'm building face frames, I use pocket screws and glue.
Building furniture usually requires some specialized tools. You can build a shed with a circular saw, hammer and a screwdriver. Furniture is a little more sophisticated. It can be done with simple hand tools, but that requires some experience.
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Old 05-06-2009, 09:05 AM   #7
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


Biscuits aid in alignment and assembly, but add little strength to an edge-glued joint. Modern glues such as titebond II are much stronger than the wood itself, and are unlikely to fail if properly glued.

I do a lot of cabinetry and woodworking and very rarely use biscuits. I either dowel or pockethole screw my faceframes, and carcasses are done with dados and rabbets with glue and brads.

Unless you already spent the cash on a biscuit joiner I'd suggest saving your money.

With any edge glue-up of boards you'll need to plane or drum sand the boards after gluing. Biscuits won't perfectly align them and the faces will need cleaning up.

Although you can usually get away with good clean cuts on a tablesaw, to properly edge-glue boards you need to pass the edges through a jointer to get them straight and square.

My suggestion is stick with plywood. Building bookcase/cabinet carcasses from lumber will test your carpentry skills (and tool needs) to the max.
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Old 05-06-2009, 11:06 AM   #8
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


If you have a table saw you can do half lap joints, half lap miter joints, tongue and grove joints, spline joints, and with the proper blade edge jointing. With a router ( I would recommend a router table) there are many additional joints. Doweling jigs are relatively cheap and probably provide the best alignment. Pockets hole jigs come in a variety of price ranges and are extremely useful and probably one of the easiest for a beginner to master.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:14 PM   #9
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


Yes if your carpentry skills are limted then plywood is the way to go. Also go for cabnet grade plywood--where I live it cost about $25.00 a sheet. Bookshelves are a good project to get you feet wet. Lots of plans around, look in your local used book store to find lots a books with plans. Goodluck, and post some pics so we can see your progress and advise you on what to do if you want. Well Goodluck again.
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Old 05-06-2009, 03:24 PM   #10
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


Personally I'd avoid the $25/sheet stuff for a number of reasons. It is nearly always imported from China, and represents the worst of their manufacturing capabilities. The face veneers are paper thin and tearout is all but inevitable when cutting. There are lots of core voids and delamination is not uncommon. The core veneers are smaller pieces and are overlapped at the joints. If you lean it against a wall for an hour it irreparably warps. Cheap material yields cheap-looking results.

Good 23/32" domestic or european veneer core hardwood plywood starts at about $50/sheet and goes as high as $100 or more, depending on the face veneer species. MDF core is a good option to sometimes save a little bit of cash, but as a rookie woodworker it probably isn't a good idea for you.
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:04 PM   #11
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


I have to agree with thekctermite.
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:31 PM   #12
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


thanks again for the advice

since someone brought up books... any book recommendations for a rookie?
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Old 05-07-2009, 06:06 PM   #13
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


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thanks again for the advice

since someone brought up books... any book recommendations for a rookie?
The first book I'd invest in is a power tool safety book. Circular and table saws can be unforgiving to the uninitiated.
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Old 05-08-2009, 09:26 AM   #14
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high end furniture - a lot of biscuit jointing?


Thekctermite I have never had that problem. Not saying your wrong just that I have never had that problem. The plywood I am talking about is a cabnet grade material comes in 4x6 or 4x8 sheets. If you get the stain grade you get a much nicer veneer. I must be shopping in the wrong lumber yard but I have never seen $100.00 per sheet plywood. I am sure there is and I would like to see it always looking for a better material to use.
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