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Makita 18v LXT Cordless Biscuit/Plate Joiner Review – XJP03Z

What are biscuits for in woodworking?

Biscuits offer excellent alignment and measurable strength in a woodworking joint. A biscuit joiner makes a matching shaped mortise in the two pieces of wood that are meant to be joined together. A biscuit is a small pre-manufactured piece of wood that goes into the mortise aligning the two boards very closely. In a panel glue up or other long grain to long grain joint, the long grain joint provides much more strength than the biscuit. In that situation, they are intended for alignment purposes only. In a situation where end-grain is involved, they add a significant amount of strength compared to the end-grain to end-grain or end-grain to long or side grain situations. In those situation biscuits are used for strength and alignment. Of course the joints need to be glued!

 Makita XJP03Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Plate Joiner

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Why bother with biscuits?

In panel glue-ups or other glue-up situations, the majority of the time you want the boards to be in the same plane as much as possible. This is to maintain the thickness of the panel or glue-up when running the material through the jointer, planer, or drum sander. If the boards are not aligned, you have to remove significant amount of material to get the entire panel or glue-up smooth.

Biscuits are a very affordable way to ensure alignment during a glue up. The equipment is affordable and the biscuits cost are minimal compared to other input costs in your panel, especially when you buy them in bulk. There are other methods and equipment out there to help with alignment. These methods range from simple clamps at each joint to cauls and clamps along the entire panel to expensive patented equipment like the Festool Domino.

We favor biscuits over Dominos for panel glue-ups just due to the flexibility of the biscuits and the time. With a domino, you have to be dead on nuts to your mark when you have it in the tightest setting. A biscuit typically offers you 1/8″ lateral movement when using a #20 biscuit. 

Makita 18volt Biscuit/Plate Joiner – XJP03Z

We have had many biscuit joiner units that have all be corded. Until the Makita 18volt model, we always had to have an outlet and an extension cord. This wasn’t too big of a deal as we were in a workshop but whenever we needed to use the tool, we had to get it setup. The beautiful thing about the Makita 18volt cordless unit is the immediate use. Grab it, slap a battery in it, and get making biscuit slots. It has made the process of biscuits, panel glue-ups, and other simple tasks so much more efficient and enjoyable. It has been a real game changer for us.

Features and Specs

  • 320 Cuts or 160 joints per charge (using 3.0 Ah battery)
  • Rack-and-pinion vertical fence system (tool-less adjustment)
  • Cast Aluminum fence with three positive stops at 0, 45, 90.
  • Tool-less depth stop turret with 6 stops/depth settings for all the most common sized biscuits
  • Non-marring rubber inserts on the base to provide grip to your material

LXT Battery Platform

Makita’s 18 volt lineup is astounding in the amount of tools a single battery platform can operate. The XJP03Z is no exception. If you are invested into the Makita’s 18 volt battery platform, their cordless biscuit joiner is a seamless addition. Take the battery from your drill or impact driver and slap it right on your biscuit joiner. Take it from your biscuit joiner and go trim the yard or clear the debris off the driveway with their blower.

If you are not invested in the LXT battery platform, we would highly recommend checking it out. Incredible line-up of tools that are sure to please.

Dust Collection

Nearly all operation in a woodworking shop or job-site will create dust. Makita has included a dust bag that doesn’t have a zipper. Instead, it has a sliding clip that is fast and easy to use. When we brought the unit into the workshop we immediately started using it on 3 large jobs. We quickly realized that the small bag they included wasn’t going to cut it. In our workshop setting, we simply removed the bag and aimed the 45 degree dust port towards the floor. All the chips and dust were shot to the ground. When we were finish, we simply used a broom or shop vac to clean up. The dust bag is a perfect solution for on the job-site or location where dust must be minimized or eliminated. 

Power

When we first received the unit and started using it, we were amazed at the power it had. We initially started with small compact batteries to keep the unit lightweight. The unit went through those size batteries pretty fast. With the claimed 320 cuts per 3.0 Ah battery, you can get a lot of work done while another battery is on the charger ready to go. With the unit being powered by the LXT 18 volt battery platform, the unit had plenty of power to get through most of the material we threw at it. When we made biscuits in hard maple for our American Flag project, we noticed it bogged down. Our solution to this was very simple! All we did was slow our plunge rate down. We were so used to plunging so fast with the corded models that we needed to slow it down a bit for the super hard hardwoods like Hard Maple.

Tool-less

We love the fast that the only tool you need for this unit is the nut for the blade. The fence height and angle are all tool-less. This adds to the units convience and efficiency. If you are switching material thicknesses often, this tool is perfect for you. If you are sticking with 3/4″ material most of the time, remove the vertical fence and adjust the main fence to 90 degrees. It is preset to put the biscuit at 3/8″ which is perfectly centered in 3/4″ stock.

Conclusion

If you are unfamiliar with biscuits or know about then and don’t use them often. We strongly encourage you to check them out. They are an excellent tool in the shop that provides a lot of great advantages. If  you pair the convenience and efficiency of a biscuit with the Makita LXT 18v Biscuit Joiner, you are sure to have a shop changing combination.

Instead of our older methods, we reach for the XJP03Z Biscuit Joiner every single time. It is fast, convenience, and enjoyable to use with results that are tough to argue with.

 

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