There's a saying in woodworking that you should probably hear: "Good woodworking projects use glue. Great woodworking projects use a little more." That "little more" means wood biscuits. Wood biscuits are small oval shaped discs that are inserted with the use of a biscuit joiner. Historically, of course, biscuits did not exist in the woodworking processes. Simple wooden pegs were used. These pegs were the precursor to wood biscuits.
Wood biscuits join two pieces of wood together. Something a bit more than glue is often required for most wood working projects. The projects often require panels of twelve inches or more to be joined without the overwhelming presence of seams. Glue is both fine and necessary, but excellent woodworking projects simply cannot survive on glue alone. Biscuits are both simple, and quick to use. A biscuit joiner, the tool that helps you insert a biscuit, cuts the hole in the opposite edges of the project you are working with. You then cover your wood biscuit in glue and insert it in the slot. Clamp the two boards together, and you are on your way to finishing one of the best woodworking projects you have ever made.
Biscuits are both strong and durable. They can act as joiners where glue simply will not hold. Most biscuits are comprised of compressed wood components. This usually means something like beech shavings, but the actual composition can vary from company to company. Once the glue joins with the biscuit in the slot you have made with your biscuit joiner, the biscuit is allowed to expand to fill the slot. This has the effect of tightening the joint, allowing you to work with it and smooth it more than you ever thought possible.
Most biscuits are slightly less than one fourteenth of an inch thick, though it is possible to purchase them in varying thicknesses from different wood biscuit making companies. There are three common wood biscuit sizes. Size number zero is five eighths of an inch wide and one and three quarter inches long. Size number ten is three quarters of an inch wide and two and one eighths of an inch long. Size number twenty is one inch wide and two and three eighths of an inch long. As with the thickness of wood biscuits, some manufacturers make different biscuit sizes. If you are looking for a specific size, it might be good to check around from company to company.
The best biscuit size to use is the best size that suits your purpose. You should try to use the largest sized biscuit for your project. This will increase the stability of your woodworking project. While you can use a wood biscuit on any joint project, there are a few common joints where they are used. Anytime you are manufacturing an edge to edge joint, like in dining room tables, end tables, or coffee tables, biscuits can be very helpful. Any time you are creating a miter joint, like with a picture frame, biscuits can add stability to the project. When you need to use butt joinery or end to end joints, biscuits offer you the strength you need. In places where corner joints are necessary, like drawers, biscuits are not only helpful, they're traditional. In the case of T joints, like you might use when you create a book shelf, a biscuit can offer you that little bit of extra stability you have been searching for.
When you get ready to start using wood biscuits as a joinery tool, there are a few things to remember. First, biscuit storage is a bit touchy. You should always store wood biscuits in a clean, dry, airtight container. The nature of wood biscuits makes them very susceptible to moisture. Moisture can cause them to swell, which makes them useless for woodworking purposes. Second, be sure to check and recheck the way your joints fit together before you start your project. Dry fitting your components is not just a good idea; it is a necessity in the world of wood biscuits.
Wood biscuits are typically sold in bulk at hardware stores and other hardware retailers. With the popularity of internet shopping, you can even buy them at most online woodworking specialty shops in various sizes