Dinosaur No More

hollingsworth_lrg 2Spending my entire adult (and a good portion of my teenage) life as a maker of 17th-, 18th- and early 19th-century style furniture has been wonderful and has opened many doors for me – but that all ends today.

Wandering through my local Big Box Hardware and Home Center (and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what it is called) last night I stumbled on something revolutionary. We’re not talking your standard “taxation without representation” kind of revolution. No, this one is important: it’s a woodworking revolution.

And, like any good revolution (or renaissance) this one appears to have begun in Italy. Seriously, compared to the likes of Lamello and Elu, guys like Felibien and Roubo would be rank amateurs when it comes to joinery. And, oh what joinery it is, this biscotti (I’m sure my local home center just Americanized it) joinery!

Let’s face it, the mortise-and-tenon and dovetail joints have no chance of survival when you can get more than double the glue surface from (OK, I’ll use the American form) biscuits and you can make the joint in one tenth the time. These guys have thought of everything. It’s easy to set up, cut and assemble the joints – with no fitting whatsoever.

A new-fangled biscotti joiner.

A newfangled biscotti joiner in the wild.

The best part? The biscuits are made from crushed luan plywood. They redefine stability and, as we all know, the strength of luan underlayment is unsurpassed – particularly when you smash it down so that it expands when glue is applied. Even the expansion is revolutionary; it locks the joint together permanently.

I truly believe this is such a total innovation in woodworking, I’ve already been in contact with my friend, Tommy MacDonald of “Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac,” and suggested he incorporate this new joinery method into his show. I think there might be real potential for him to use this method for the vast majority of his projects. It could truly be the foundation of an extended career.

So, to paraphrase Denethor, Son of Ecthelion, “Flee, flee for your woodworking lives! Abandon your mortise-and-tenon posts. The age of antiquated woodworking is at an end.” And, just as Picard standing by the swirling puddle of goo (and nothing happens), this biscotti joinery will change everything. I, for one, am throwing off the shackles of preconceived, historically proven, antiquated joinery methods and coming into the modern era. I will, from this day forward, employ only this new method for all my projects both private and public. Won’t you join me in my crusade?

Enjoy the day.

— Chuck Bender

p.s. – And in his ever-prescient manner, Bob Lang created “A New Manual for Biscuit Joiners” almost a decade ago.

 

15 thoughts on “Dinosaur No More

  1. keithm

    I was triggered to write this when I saw your blog post on chair design. Do you realize that 0, 10 and 20 biscuits all are in golden ratio proportions of length vs. width? In addition, the arc of each is congruent with Pascal’s Circle. I am surprised you didn’t pick up on this. But I can excuse this due to your excitement and that you haven’t had time yet to analyze.

    In addition, there is an up and coming technique of adding screws at an angle. This angle corresponds exactly with the 1:7 dovetail angle, so it must be extremely strong. In addition it’s quite attractive as it’s set into a conic section elliptical hole. I believe the 18th century Philadelphia cabinet makers would have certainly used this if they had been smart enough to think of it.

    1. Chuck BenderChuck Bender Post author

      I am already deep in study on the proportions of biscuits. I’ve also added Dominos to my study in order to see if they all conform to the proportions of a golden rectangle. I will update you on my findings shortly after next March 31st.

      As to angling the screws, the next thing you’ll be telling me is they angled rosehead nails in anticipation of this method.

  2. wennen@mosquitonet.com

    I was taught as a kid that biscuits are to be had with country ham and red eye gravy for breakfast. I will stick with my mortise/tenons, box joints, t&g, dovetails and all the rest. Not only looks good, it works.

  3. DonPeregoy

    Say it’s not so Chuck. This is a catastrophe now my dovetail saw and chisels will be worthless. How will my wife survived after I’m gone?

  4. Jason

    Chuck,

    I’m not sure who the bigger geek is: you for making the Lord of the Rings and Star Trek references or me for knowing exactly which ones they are.

  5. pmac

    Don’t be a fool. Biscuits are so yesterday. There’s a new glue that is so strong that end grain to end grain joints are as strong as long grain glue joints. I can’t remember the name, but a google search on strong wood glue will help all those interested.

  6. Clay Dowling

    Yea though I walk through the valley of the biscuit joiner, I will fear no evil: for Saint Roy is with me. His mortise and his tenon they comfort me.
    Thou preparest lumber in the presence of powered jointers. Thou annointest they lumber with blood; they sweat runneth over.

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