Thin and Even Out Wood Easily Using the Best Jointer
The first jointers were long-bodied manually operated planes, which were naturally enough called "jointer planes." Their purpose was to smooth a piece of wood after cutting, ensuring that it was both flat enough and smooth enough for use.
These manual versions of the jointer have long since been replaced by power jointers, which still hold the same basic purpose. However, as power tools, they operate differently than the original. Instead of having one fixed blade, they have multiple blades, placed on a revolving drum. While this cuts much faster than the original manual plane, it isn't as smooth. The ripple appearance that is visible on the surface of many commercially produced boards is a result of being run through a power jointer.
Many woodworkers feel that they don't need a plane today, as boards purchased at the lumberyards have already been smoothed. Of course, if one is cutting their own boards on a sawmill, that would eliminate said reasoning. Nevertheless, a jointer is still a useful tool, providing the ability to thin boards as needed and match their thickness.
More than anything, jointers are used by those who make furniture. When laminating a number of boards together to make a tabletop or the top of a dresser, it's not uncommon to have slight variances in the thicknesses of the boards. This problem increases dramatically when the boards have come from a variety of different sources, as not all sawmills finish their boards exactly the same.
There are a wide variety of jointers on the market today, showing that they are still used extensively, even if a lot of people don't have them in their workshops. While there are not that many manufacturers producing them, each manufacturer has several models to choose from.
Jointers come in a variety of sizes, mostly measured by the width of cut they can produce. The wider ones are also referred to as planers, although the two are essentially the same tool. The major difference is that a true planer doesn't allow material to be edge cut on it, but only cut on the flat. A jointer on the other hand, allows the material to be cut on the flat or edge cut.
A couple of these jointers have helical or spiral knives. This is a relatively recent design innovation, created to reduce the waviness that power jointers typically produce in the sides of boards. While they have many more blades to set up, it is worth it, for the smoother cut that they provide.
The other important feature that some jointers have and others don't is parallelogram ways. This refers to the way that the bed of the jointer meets up with the center part of the jointer's body. By placing the sliding ways at an angle, making the center part of the jointer shaped like a parallelogram, it ensures zero clearance between the blades and the feed table. This reduces chatter, helping to reduce the waviness in the board.
Finally, power and size are important considerations. For the sake of this list, I've tried to stick with planers that were reasonably enough priced that they could be considered for a home workshop. I'll have to say, it was hard picking out the best models to choose. For each one you see here, the same manufacturers make other, larger models. However, those larger models have larger price tags as well. Check out our list of the best jointers in 2021.
King Canada KC-6HJC 6" Benchtop with Helical Cutter Head Jointer
Powermatic 2042376 Mobile Base for Model 60B Jointer
Shop Fox W1713 16-Inch Variable Speed Scroll Saw Jointer
PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed 6" Jointer
Delta 37-071 6-Inch Jointer
The Best Jointer Models of 2021 in Detail
I picked this 6-inch model from Grizzly as my favorite for a number of reasons. First of all, it has a spiral cutterhead for smoother finish. Although they do produce a wider model of essentially the same jointer, I stuck with the 6-inch one for price. In most cases, hardwood boards purchased for furniture making are only six inches wide, or less. This unit comes with a 1.5 HP motor, which provides a maximum cutting depth of 1/8". The fence is a descent length, at 46 inches and is tiltable, with a stop at 45 degrees. It does have parallelogram ways, although for some reason, their website doesn't list that as a feature. The infeed table has a quick adjusting lever and the outfeed has a fine control handwheel. It also comes with a built-in moving dolly.
The reason why I didn't give this Powermatic unit the number one slot was its price. While this is an excellent jointer, it's considerably more expensive than the Grizzly unit that I picked for number one. This one has a helical cutterhead, with 40 blades on it for maximum smoothness. These are triangular blades, so once adjusted, if a blade becomes nicked or dull, it merely needs to be rotated, without having to readjust. That saves time and hassles. While this is also a six inch jointer, the bed is considerably longer, at 66 inches overall. The infeed table has a fine/quick selection for quick adjustment or exacting precision. This one is also a parallelogram design for the smoothest adjustments and maintaining zero clearance between the cutterhead and the tables. The motor is 1 HP.
This Shop Fox unit is wider than either of the ones we've looked at previously, with an 8-inch wide blade. It is not a helical or spiral cut design, but a standard straight bladed jointer. However, it is a four blade cutterhead, rather than the old three blade. The price is lower than the Powermatic unit we just looked at. For reference purposes, the 6-inch version of this same jointer carries a lower price than the Grizzly that I picked as number one. It has the parallelogram bed ways for reduced clearance and a much larger motor, at 3 HP. The table is also longer at 76-5/16 inches long, with both the infeed and outfeed heights being lever controlled.
I had to include this model from Jet because of its amazing price. I couldn't believe that a 10-inch jointer could actually be available for under $500. In all fairness, this isn't as good a jointer as the other ones we've looked at, especially if you need to be able to true up the edges of boards for laminating. The shorter bed means that it might not remove a curve out of a board. However, it is portable and it can even be used as a benchtop unit. The motor appears to be about 1 HP (they say it's 13 amp), which should provide adequate power, as long as you don't try and cut too fast. It will make cuts up to 1/8" deep.
I included this model from Delta even though it was outside of the price range that I was looking at. This 8-inch jointer does not have a spiral or helical cutter head, but does have a jackscrew arrangement on the cutterhead, for ease of individual blade replacement and adjustment. The surprising thing about this jointer is that it can make cuts up to 5/8" deep, much more than the other we've looked at. The motor is 1-1/2 HP, with sealed, permanently lubricated bearings. It has a nice long table at 76-1/2 inches long.
Why Do You Need Wood Jointers?
A true work of art requires something more than just raw talent. Using the right tools is crucial to bring the idea in your head into a physical realization. If you are passionate about woodwork, just a saw and hammer is not going to cut it. You need a professional wood jointer to get the job done right.
A jointer is used to smooth corners, level surfaces, and carve joints on raw wood. It is the ultimate tool for any woodworker who wants to maintain a standard of quality in everything he builds.
Things To Consider When Buying A Jointer
Table width and max cutting depth:
The table width and cutting depth of a jointer decide what sizes of wood you can feed into it. The best combination would be to have a big table with the max depth cut not more than ⅛ of an inch. This allows you to achieve fine details while working with larger pieces of wood.
Cutting speed and power:
When it comes to the efficiency of a wood jointer, it is important to look towards the cutting speed and power of the motor. The best jointers today run on AC motors of 1 horsepower, which is enough to slice through most slabs of wood in your workshop. A high cutting speed and a powerful motor come together to cut more rapidly and accurately.
However, when you look at cutting speed, it is also important to note the number of cutters on a particular jointer. A two blade wood jointer running at 5000 rpm will give you 10000 cuts per minute, while one that has three knives but operates at 4500 rpm can deliver 13500 cuts per minute.
Type of cutters:
Different models of wood jointers can have different types of cutters on them. Some will have straight blades, cutting smoothly through a piece of wood. Other cutting heads can employ a spherical or helical design.
Usually, the type of cutter does not make a huge difference on the quality of cut produced. However, straight blades are prone to wear and tear and might snap sooner than curved ones. If you have the luxury to choose between the two, it is recommended that you go for a curved cutting head rather than a flat one.
It is important to adjust the table height and angle before you begin to work on a new piece of wood. The ability to simply turn the knob and get the table in the right position allows you to make easier, neater cuts.
The best wood jointer is one that is easy to adjust and work around. While almost all kinds of jointers allow you to make adjustments according to your comfort and what you are working with, the best ones make it simple and quick. This job becomes more challenging when you are working with big tables.
A good woodwork machine should have safety features such as blade guard covers to put over the cutter heads when they are not in use. Spring locks are generally not recommended in these situations because they can be tricky and have the potential to be accidentally unlocked.
Last but definitely not the least, it is important to make sure that you are buying a good quality wood jointer that will not give up on you halfway through your woodwork project. It is always better to spend a little more and purchase a reliable model than skimp out on a few dollars and get yourself something that can break down anytime. Buying a substandard wood jointer will only have you spending the money you saved on repairs and maintenance later on.
To ensure you are getting something that will not fail you, go for renowned brands and models - even if they might be a little more expensive than what your local hardware store is trying to sell you. Go for a flat top that is built with premium quality materials and feels sturdy to use. Another big hint about the reliability of a woodworking machine is the warranty offered on it. A brand that produces poor quality equipment will never give you a good warranty or have an easy return and exchange policy in place.
Choosing The Right Type Of Jointer For Your Workshop
Choosing the right type of jointer involves not only knowing about the features that different models offer, but also your own requirements. Once you have correctly identified your needs, you can match them with the qualities of your favourite wood jointers and see which one suits you best.
Tips to keep safe while working with a wood jointer
Working with a wood jointer can be pretty dangerous. With the sharp cutting heads and heavy equipment all around, one must always take the necessary precautions to prevent any untoward accidents from happening. This is why every little thing that adds a layer of safety is a huge bonus in the workshop.
The following tips can help you keep safe in your workshop while working with a wood jointer.
. Always wear goggles and earmuffs in the workshop.
. Invest in some high quality work gloves to prevent accidental cuts.
. Always keep your blades covered and the safety lock on when they are not in use.
. Make it a practice to read through the manual before trying to operate a new machine.
. Turn off the jointer before you make any adjustments.
. Keep the cutting heads sharp to make easier, neater cuts.
Can you use your table saw as a jointer?
If you have a good quality table saw, you can add a simple shop made fence to it to work it as a jointer.
What is the right way to feed wood in a jointer?
To feed wood in a jointer, press the piece of wood forwards (and not downwards) while using both hands.
Can a jointer cut through plywood?
Technically, yes. While you can use your jointer to slice through plywood, you really should not. Doing so can damage the cutting head and cause it to fail.