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2000 tool buyer's guide - Jointers

2000 tool buyer's guide - Jointers

2 Types of Jointers

If you work with shorter boards and want to save money, a benchtop jointer may be a good choice. Benchtop jointers have 4-in. and 6-in. wide beds and short infeed and outfeed tables. The universal motor is louder than the induction motor on a typical floor model, and it's not suited to heavy-duty use. Some benchtop models feature variable-speed control, which lets you tailor your cutting speed to the hardness of the material you're working and the desired cutting smoothness.

A stationary model is a smart investment for any woodworker who builds lots of furniture with hardwoods. Along with jointing boards for gluing into panels, it can flatten one side of rough lumber for thicknessing in a planer, and is sturdy enough to handle edging jobs on large pieces of plywood. An 8-in. model will cost significantly more than a 6-in., but the extra width and length of the beds will make all jointing operations easier and more accurate.

The jointer, along with a tablesaw, is the foundation of fine woodworking. Jointers flatten cupped boards, true board edges for gluing into panels and cut bevels and rabbets. A jointer with well-adjusted tables will remove up to 1/8-in. of stock evenly along the edge of a workpiece, which makes the jointer an essential tool for trimming furniture and cabinet parts to size. The size of a jointer (6- and 8-in. models are most popular) indicates how wide a board it will surface plane.

Fence operation. A well-designed fence is center-mounted, with sturdy locking levers and adjustable stops at 45, 90 and 135 degrees.

Use a good straightedge to carefully check the flatness and parallel alignment of the tables before buying a jointer. For heavy use and greatest accuracy, the outfeed table should be adjustable.

Table Adjustments
Either a handwheel or a lever is used to adjust table height on jointers (see photo below). With the lever, you can raise and lower a table quickly, an advantage when surfacing rough stock. Although slower, a handwheel allows you to raise and lower a table in smaller increments. This is important on the outfeed table, as it allows you to align the table surface with the knives.

Like the tables, the fence should be machined flat, with a smooth finish to ease stock movement. A center-mounted fence is more stable than an end-mounted fence (see photo, top right). Check the fence's adjustability and squareness to the table before purchase.

A factory-made base should be included in the price of all jointers except benchtop models. Look for sturdy
construction with an integral dust chute and/or dust-collection port.

Rabbeting Ledge
Found on many floor-model jointers, this feature enables you to use the jointer to mill rabbets and tongues (see photo below).

Push blocks. A must for safe milling operations, push blocks can be purchased or made in the shop. $6. Available from Woodcraft Supply; (800) 225-1153.

Extra knives. To minimize downtime when knives get nicked or dull, it's a good idea to have an extra set on hand. $60. Available from individual manufacturers.

Knife-setting jig. Changing knives can be a tough job. A knife-setting jig makes knife installation easier and more precise. If your jointer doesn't come with such a jig, you can purchase one separately. $45. Available from Woodworker's Supply; (800) 645-9292.

Extension rollers or supports. When you mill long stock, adjustable rollers or supports can help you control the workpiece. This option is especially worthwhile with a small floor-model jointer. $40. Available from HTC; (800) 624-2027.

Reprinted with permission from American Woodworker magazine, ©2000 Home Service Publications, Inc., an affiliate of The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., Suite 700, 2915 Commers Drive, Eagan, MN 55121. All rights reserved.