The plate joiner – also referred to as a biscuit joiner – has become much more popular as of late. They make easy work of connecting two boards together with a relatively strong biscuit (depending on the depth of the tenon). Although domino joiners are the preferred choice among professional furniture makers, it requires a hefty sum of cash to purchase, whereas plate joiners are inexpensive investments which serve the same purpose.
Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at two popular plate joiners available on the market: the DEWALT DW682K and the Makita PJ7000. These corded plate joiners are favored by DIY hobbyists, though professional workers can find some practical use out of these high-quality power tools. This comparison article will help by eliminating some of the guesswork for you so you can make an educated decision on which of these two plate joiners will be more valuable to you.
Motor and Speed
The more powerful the motor, the cleaner and neater the finished cuts. Basically, users who handle all sorts of soft and hardwoods will need a high-power plate joiner to work with. The DEWALT features a 6.5 amp motor which delivers up to 10,000 RPM. You’ll need this sort of power to produce cuts deep enough to support #20 biscuits and produce 20 mm tenons.
The Makita features a 5.6 amp motor which delivers up to 11,000 RPM. The quicker speed allows for increased productivity and cleaner cuts. It also allows the plate joiner to cut depths of up to 20 mm (max setting) for certain hinges or fasteners.
Conclusion: Between the two models, the 1,000 RPM difference doesn’t actually mean much. The industry standard for any plate joiner motor below 7 amps is 10,000 RPM, and anything past that is basically wasted capacity. That being said, both of these products are equally good in this regard.
This plate joiner comes with a 4-inch carbide blade which you need to swap out for a smaller 2-inch one for shallower biscuits. The problem with the DEWALT is that swapping blades is a challenging process. You need to remove the four screws which keep the base plate secure, then using multiple external tools and the uncomfortable spindle lock button, you can remove the blade. Overall, the blade-swapping process takes roughly 10 minutes to do.
Unlike the DEWALT, to change blades on the Makita, you just need to loosen a thumb screw then press the spindle lock button to eject the blade. The screw-less system of changing blades is a huge comfort, and it took us only about 2 minutes to get the unit up and running again after switching out the 4-inch blade.
Conclusion: The clear winner is the Makita in terms of changing blades. We were a bit confused by DEWALT had us go through such a long process to switch out blades, and we were relieved that Makita had the insight to implement a much easier system.
A rule of thumb when purchasing plate joiners is an adjustable fence that can be hard-set at 45°. The DEWALT features a dual rack-and-pinion fence to keep the blade remains parallel to your wood piece every time. The fence system works great and can be adjusted from anywhere between 0° and 90°. However, you should always examine the fence for runout since it’s unfixable.
The horizontal-adjustable fence of the Makita works perfectly for cuts shallower than ½ an inch. As the contact point between the fence and the tenon increases, accuracy decreases, albeit very slightly. Users should exercise caution and avoid bumping the fence when attempting to make tenons of more than 1-inch deep.
Conclusion: The Makita works best when making tenons of depths less than ½ an inch, which may be far too shallow to provide meaningful support between two medium- to heavy-weight boards. The fence of the DEWALT, on the other hand, doesn’t disrupt the plunging mechanism at all.
Most plate joiners have their grip handle attached directly to the fence. The DEWALT, unfortunately, does not. Since most people are born without a third hand, this leaves you using one hand to pull the trigger, another to hold the handle, and the fence is free to roam wherever it pleases. To get an accurate cut, you’ll need to ignore the handle completely and control the fence. This doesn’t hurt accuracy in any way, though it’s extremely uncomfortable to hold like that.
The Makita’s handle is also placed on the motor housing rather than the fence, making the plunging action similar to that of the DEWALT. The only problem is that even when holding the fence, accuracy diminishes slightly for cuts deeper than 1 inch.
Conclusion: Of the two brands, the DEWALT wins on a technicality. We really found it awkward to handle the plate joiners without using the handle grip, but despite the unpleasant feeling, the DEWALT maintained accuracy when cutting all sorts of tenon depths.
The dust collection mechanism of a plate joiner prevents clogging and helps in maintaining accurate cuts every time. The DEWALT’s dust bag works great at collecting airborne dust particles, though the tiny bag tends to fill up quickly, especially when working with softwoods that produce large-sized debris.
The dust collection bad of the Makita is only slightly better, but oddly it uses a plastic crimp instead of a zipper. The small-sized bag also fills up rather quickly, but it’s a pain to close the bag after dumping out the wood shavings. Whatever time you saved when changing blades is lost trying to close the bag.
Conclusion: The DEWALT’s dust collection mechanism is much better, though still far from perfect. In our opinion, the only way to get things done correctly is to attach a shop vac to the plate joiner. That way you’re not constantly thinking about having to empty out the dust bags.
DEWALT DW682K vs Makita PJ7000: Bottom Line
Between these two models, it’s safe to say that the DEWALT is the slightly better tool. The whole blade-changing fiasco is forgiven since the plate joiner produces clean, accurate cuts all of the time, though you need to hold onto the fence to do it.
The Makita requires a lot of care and delicate operation to produce accurate cuts deeper than 1 inch, which is problematic because larger biscuits equal greater strength and support between two boards. For non-commercial use, either of these plate joiners can be a viable option, but the DEWALT’s consistent accuracy puts it at a higher rank than the Makita.