Popular Woodworking 2001-06 № 122, страница 19




Popular Woodworking 2001-06 № 122, страница 19

Porter-Cable 557

$200_

Largest fence

r handle attached to fence

simple blade change

ootout

sliding across the wood surface during the cut. The rotation of the blade tends to make the joiner pull to the left. To hold the tool in place, some use padded rubber, either surrounding the entire blade opening or as small pads on either side of the opening. Also used is a sandpaper-type finish surrounding the blade opening, or two four-pronged metal studs that are spring-loaded and adjustable in depth.

What is important in a fence will be different for each woodworker. For many, the extra angle capacities are not necessary. What is important for all is being able to read the height and angle scales easily and to quickly adjust those settings. Also, the effort required to make the plunge cut affects the accuracy of the cut. The plunge motion should be smooth and take a certain amount of pressure. But too loose or too tight and things can get sloppy.

Finally, a word on size. When it comes to fences on biscuit joiners, bigger is better. A larger fence is easy to hold in place during cuts and makes your joints more accurate.

The Motor Puts Things in Motion

Unlike many power tools, the raw power

provided by the motor isn't a particularly critical factor. All the joiners tested operate at 10,000 rpm and draw between four and seven amps under load. The cut itself is fairly minimal, so only a certain amount of power is necessary. Though noise is a concern with these motors (all operate in the "ouch" range; 85 dB is harmful), there isn't a dramatic difference between the many models, even including the gearing differences between body styles. Just wear hearing protection.

Hidden Carbide

While the motor's power may not be critical, the blade and its performance is. All the blades we tested are carbide tipped for extended wear. Most have six teeth with, once again, the Ryobi-made models being the exception with eight.

Because the blade is where all the action takes place, we did a little more testing here. A biscuit should fit into the slot reasonably snug, but shouldn't have to be forced in place.Because of this, the kerf left by the blade is critical. Too wide (due to vibration, loose bearings or poorly machined teeth) and the biscuit might wobble in the slot. Another situation for con

cern is the relationship between the fence and the blade. The slot must be parallel to the material (whether aligning the tool using the fence or the work surface). If the slot is out of parallel with the material, it can keep the biscuit from fitting, or throw the alignment off.

The variance found between the blade thickness and the thickness of the slot it makes can be an indicator of poor quality. But don't get too hung up on that. We're talking about thousandths of an inch variance, and biscuits are designed to swell with glue to .16". If the machine cuts a slot .16" or slightly smaller (and I mean slightly), you're in good shape.

One last bit of testing needs some discussion. We've listed our opinion of the difficulty required to change the blade in each tool. For most woodworkers this is a task that may be undertaken once a year (if you use the tool a lot). Three exceptions exist. Both the Porter-Cable 557 and the two Lamello machines offer a second, smaller blade designed for cutting biscuits for use in face-frame construction. To be able to benefit from this extra capability, it's particularly important that blade change be simple in these tools. PW

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