We have changed just about all of the processes in our shop over the last year except for face frame construction. We are still using the old biscuits, but now we are bottle-necking.
What is the fastest method for constructing face frames? I am prepared to spend the money for the equipment, I just don't want to have to spend it twice.
We use pocket screws. I used dowels for years, but the first time I made one with pocket screws, I was done with dowels.
Here is an interesting bit of information. Just last week I removed all cabinets in a kitchen that was installed in 1954 when the house was built. The original owners, still living there, told me the contractors' carpenters built the cabinets on site. These cabinets were structurally perfect. Every face frame and box joint was perfect - almost seamless. There were some long runs and I looked for a way to separate them to make removal easier. I found that every face frame joint was a glued butt joint! No mechanical fasteners of any kind. The face frames were attached to the plywood boxes only with glue. Beating with a hammer on the joints only broke the wood near the joint - the glued joints never separated. Amazing!
The nice thing about pocket screws is no clamp time and no face frames loaded with clamps scattered all over the shop. We do not use the side clamps often to assemble FFs, but they are nice to have. We occasionally glue up large slabs on the table with the edge clamps and use the overarm clamps for down pressure to get the planks flush. The overarm with down pressure clamps are the key. The outlet for an air powered driver is nice. It keeps the driver right where you are working - we made a screw box that rides with the overarm so the screws are always right there.
Ritter's stuff is built like a tank and well thought out. Never had any problems with the setup since 1997. The two ends of the assembly table are adjustable to re-square. The only issues we have ever had have been related to glue build up on the table, which was our fault. We are still finding new applications for pocket screws. When you have the setup, you will find many uses other than face frames. We drill our case parts on the drill tub and use pocket screws to attach the FFs to the cases. If you go this route, make sure you include assembly and placement as part of the purchase. The table weighs about 2500 lbs. and requires a forklift or chain fall to assemble. I have moved this setup into three shops as I grew and it makes our panel saw or 24" planer seem simple to move!