I use that very tool! I am an admitted tool-freak, but this actually works with some profiles. Done properly, you get a very strong corner with no exposed hardware and no nailholes to fill. It works best on wider, flat profiles or tall caps. The more complex profiles could be a problem.
If I were going to use this often for frame joining, I would build or order a support table. It's a little scary holding a frame leg with one hand and the biscuit joiner with the other. Plus, while you have some play and latitude, if the two holes for the biscuit are not reasoably well lined-up, the joint won't work.
I'm afraid I haven't explained this tool very well. If you have specific questions, post them here or contact me directly.
By the way, the person that suggested a detail biscuit joiner for frames was Jim Safford who died last Thursday. He spent a good part of his life giving framers like me lots of good ideas.
Al E I saw a demonstration of the use of Biscut joiners done by David Quattlebaum. I don't know if he is a Grumbler but he is a HH. So check both BB and get his email address . I'm sure he could give you a lot of informaton.
I got the tool. I like the way it works and am thinking of using it regularly. I see what you mean about using a table but I don't think the standard style table would be most efficient for framing purposes as it would require a fence and measuring when a more efficient set up would just need a center line drawn across the joint, like using it freehand. A cabinetmaker I know doesn't use a table but then he can just put the wood face down on a flat surface. How about a set up with a mirror underneath? Any thoughts on that or am I going off the deep end?
I'm pretty sceptical of any procedure that involves power tools and mirrors at the same time. Maybe what you really need is just some kind of soft support, like a sand bag or bean bag, placed under the moulding, that can hold a moulding leg face down with some stability while you're grinding away. You'd still need a hand on it, but it might help avoid some wobble problems.
We use biscuits for very large, heavy or wide frames. Used properly they create a VERY strong joint (just try breaking a biscuit-joined frame apart after the glue has set). Rather than build a jig or holding fixture it's probably easier and quicker to have a second person hold each rail steady while routing the slots.
From the replies I take it that the joiner is used for mouldings that wouldn't do well in an underpinner. Is this correct? Is there any downside to using it on the average moulding, provided, of course, that it is wide enough to accomodate the biscuits?
I don't know if anyone will care, but I also use the biscuit joiner by Ryobi. I don't use it often, but is does a nice job with wider mouldings. However, lining up the holes is essential. I did some experimenting as to how to rectify the situation and came up with a method that works for me. I'm not saying that it will work for everyone or that it is perfect, just that it works for me.
First, I take the long and short pieces that are to be mitered together and lay them rabbet up, bottoms together on my workbench. I take the fence completely off the biscuit joiner so that it acts more as a thumbnailer. I then make sure that my mouldings are not going to slip. I line the biscuit joiner up on the 45 degree angle, let the RPM's build up and then make one cut across the two pieces of moulding. I fill the holes with glue and break the biscuit in half and pop it in. I let it set in the vise until the glue dries. Then I sand off any excess on the bottom. It's amazing how tight those little suckers hold! If your miters are true you shouldn't have any problems.
Unlike Ron, I am not a "tool-freak", but I did make his homemade jig. The jig works wonderfully and will no doubt make a nice compliment to biscuit joined frames!
I'm sure that some experienced woodworker is going to tell me how I'm defying physics or something, but so far its worked well for me!
So after reading this thread I had to dig my Ryobi out from where it had been relegated to "dust catcher" and try it out on some moulding. I was actually surprised on how well it worked. The way I tried it was a little different from above but might work for you with a little thought. The first thing I did was remove the plastic fence. Just gets in the way. Then I put a pencil mark on the miter 1.75" from where I wanted the center of the biscuit to be. Putting the moulding face up on the table I just aligned the edge of the joiner with my mark and cut the slot (using the table as the fence). I wanted a second smaller biscuit higher and to the inside closer to the rabbet so I clamped a piece of 1/2" plywood to the table under the joiner and marked the plywood where the edges of the moulding and joiner went, pushed them all together, and cut the next slot. Piece of cake. The frame slipped together easily and aligned perfectly with no clamping or nails (clamping is recommended though...this was just an experiment). I put together some other samples I had cut and the system seems to work. I'll have to keep this in mind for those big clumsy frames I seem to get stuck with too often.
I understand Psychoframer's set up but am unable to visualize Frank's. Frank, can you make it any clearer? I'm just drawing a blank! Is 1.75" a universal measurement or for the particular moulding you were using?
Silly me....1.75" is the distance from the outside edge of the joiner to the center of where the blade comes out. In other words the face of the tool itself is 3.5" wide so it's 1.75" to the center. I think I made it sound complicated when it really isn't. I basically used the same method your cabinet maker uses only you can't mark the top of the moulding where you can see it (like he can with a piece of unfinished wood) so I ended up marking on the miter itself but when you put the joiner up to the miter you can't see your mark so I put another mark 1.75" over to one side or another and lined the edge of the joiner up with it. Both the joiner and the moulding are sitting flat on the table top. Nice thing about this I can hold the moulding with one hand while cutting the slot with the other hand safely. Does this make any more sense?
Concerning holding moulding for biscut cuts, Woodcraft (woodcraft,com) sells what they call a Biscut Master (for $90). It has the same limitations as the Biscut Cutter itself--it wasn't designed for picture framing. However, where it can be used it does a good job.
I understand. Very clever. If I used a moulding less than 1.75 wide could I mark the surface I am using. And, by extrapolation, could there be a permanent scale on that surface? I wonder if this is the way to have a permanent set up? One flat piece of wood with a scale and different thickness jigs to adjust the height of the cut. The other ideas are good but this seems like it is most conducive to a permanent set up.
I use the ryobi for multi angle frame joining. I just tack a couple pieces of scrap strainer bar to a work table top at the correct angle, hold the moulding against one strainer bar and use the other strainer bar as a guide for the tool----zip-zip; move one strainer bar for the other ends of moulding---zip-zip; then into an adjustable vise. works great for me.
I jerrybuilt a joiner table combining Ron and Frank's set ups. It needs a few refinements such a sliding fence. But lo and behold I cannot find any biscuits size R3 (1"). Ryobi is sold only in Home Depot now but the two near me don't sell the detail joiner or the biscuits. Woodworkers Warehouse sells the biscuits but they told me all the stores are out of those biscuits until at least March. Does anyone know a mail order or internet source for those biscuits?
I got the R3 biscuits from Sears. I'm going to test the prototype and if it works well, I'll start making the final version within a few weeks. If I do it, I'll post it in the homemade framing section. Thanks to all for the advice and assistance.