Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition



What a wonderful word. I'm probably going to misuse it here....

In our Quick Joinery course last week we were pitting two different generations of Plate Joiners / Biscuit Joiners against each other. There was a Porter Cable 557 and a DeWalt DW682K. John swore by his DeWalt and I swore by mine (funny swear words but there we went).

It was really interesting to watch the students in class use them. The difference I would have said was important was not the difference that made both John and I agree on the Porter Cable 557 being the better machine.

The difference that made a difference was where the large handle was attached - on the 557 it is attached to the front / face of the machine and on the DeWalt it is attached to the body (which slides up and down to drive the blade into the wood).

The handle being attached to the front made a huge difference in the precision and ease with with the machine could be positioned and how it reacted when the blade was spun up after being turned on. The Porter Cable  stayed in place and the DeWalt waltzed around.

With practice you could compensate for the DeWalt's movement. But the Porter Cable has a host of other features that elevate it above the DeWalt: blade change for small face frame biscuits, more adjustable fence and a non slip face.

What did I mean by serendipity? I didn't realize how much better the Porter Cable design functioned! I just treated it as normal.

As the school can afford to buy machines we'll get the Porter Cable. The Lamello joiners are the Rolls Royce of the biscuit joiners but that is too spendy. Unless, of course, there is a willing donor out there.