While the jointer can be used as a planer for small pieces of lumber, the principal function of this woodworking machine is to put a straight, smooth, level edge or edges on a board in preparation for edge-to-edge glue-up. Rabbeting can be accomplished on some jointers but I prefer to use the table saw for this task. Chamfering, or making angled cuts, can be performed by tilting the fence.
When set up and used properly, the jointer has the important capability of straightening wood, something that makes virtually all aspects of building projects easier. However, jointers have limitations and we must understand them to make the best use of this machine.
Two Views On Jointer Ownership
We got into the "You don't need a jointer/you can't live without a jointer" discussion. I am the one who can't live without it. Four power tools in my shop are absolute necessities for me, table saw, jointer, router, & thickness planer. I edge join practically every board on every project whether that edge is going to be "joined" to another or not. All exposed edges on my projects were run across the jointer before they were sanded.
These simple techniques will ensure that your jointer really earns its keep. You'll not only appreciate this workshop workhorse more, you'll get better results and great production, too. Feeding stock with the grain running "downhill" from the out-feed table and away from the knives rotation produces the best results. If grain runs in several directions, position the board so that most of it runs in that direction. End grain generally should not be jointed because the knives will shatter any unsupported portion of it.
I am setting up a woodworking hobby shop. Would you recommend a 6 or 8 inch jointer. A 6″ jointer will certainly get you by, so I don’t want you thinking an 8″ jointer is a requirement for high quality work. I know many people who get along quite nicely with small bench top jointers and even some crazy individuals who would rather use their #7 jointer plane to get the job done.
A dedicated jointer will always be the best choice for straightening the edge of a board. With proper setup and technique an edge can be made reasonably straight and square with a router. However, the limitations of relatively short router table fences and the minuscule contact area of a router bit bearing make it nearly impossible for a router to match the accuracy of a real jointer.
A frequent question from new and a surprising number of veteran woodworkers is whether to buy a jointer or planer first. Nearly all want both machines but trying to keep the budget in sight can mean one must come before the other. After reading many opposing views on this dilemma, some based on rather "unusual" justifications, I decided to give common sense a try to come up with an answer.
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