Woodworkers commonly use biscuits as a quick, lightweight substitute for dados, splines and tenons. For joints of these types, biscuit joinery provides a great option in situations where the joint does not demand extreme strength. As you learn how to use a biscuit joiner, it is helpful to understand the exceptional versatility that this tool brings, as many biscuit joiners have high quality fences that allow you to cut biscuit slots at a wide range of reference depths and angles, enabling you to position a biscuit in nearly any situation. The more you use the tool and explore how to use a biscuit joiner, however, the more you will discover applications where the fence does not offer a sufficient range that allows you to use it. For example, when using biscuits to attach shelves in a bookcase, you are required to mill biscuit slots into the middle of a large panel, often several feet from the nearest reference surface. Using the fence is out of the question in this situation, so, will you be using a biscuit joiner in these situations?
Fold up the fence
If the situation calls for a biscuit slot outside of the range of your fence, simply fold it up out of the way and use a different reference surface. Using the base of most biscuit joiners as a reference will position the biscuit slot’s center 3/8” above the base, which is perfect for ¾” material.
Use a consistent reference surface. If you use the base as reference for one biscuit slot, for consistency, also use it for the mating slot. for consistency. Be sure to apply this technique as you are learning how to use a biscuit joiner, and you might find that you prefer to use this approach even in situations where the fence would be an option.