If you’re a serious woodworker, then one of the best investments you could ever make is getting a jointer. Sure, to some people the initial cost of purchasing a jointer might be a put-off, but if you’re running a business out of your garage or small-scale workshop, then a jointer will pay for itself in wood-reclaiming dividends.
A jointer is a tool that is used to flatten the surfaces of your wood-based stock and square its edges. These are the most important functions of a jointer and the essentials of working with wood. Only after your board’s surfaces are flat and edges perfectly squared can you begin creating beautiful works of wooden art.
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Difference between a Jointer and Planer
One of the most common questions we get asked is what in the world are the differences between a jointer and planer. In a nutshell, a jointer flattens surfaces and squared edges, whereas a planer alters the thickness of the board.
Seeing as how they both flatten surfaces and help square the edges of your board, it’s understandable that people may not know when to use one or the other. The following list will explain describe different situations where either a jointer or planer would come in handy.
When purchasing wood, there will normally be different ratings assigned to the board. These are S2S and S4S, and they refer to how many sides of the board have been finished or pre-surfaced. S2S means that two sides of the board have been fully prepared so the board still has two rough edges/sides. S4S means the board is fully prepared and ready for further processing.
Most new woodworkers would opt for an S4S-rated board, especially if they don’t have a jointer to square edges or flatten surfaces. If you get S2S boards, then you’ll need a jointer to prepare your newly purchased stock fully.
Furthermore, it’s entirely possible to get boards that haven’t been processed at all (rough lumber) from lumber yards, mills, and even by felling your own trees. This type of wood absolutely needs to pass over a jointer’s blade multiple times before being used in projects.
Fixing Edges and Surfaces
After obtaining wood, check the surfaces and edges for blemishes or bumps. This definitely needs to be done if you purchase or produce your own rough lumber. If anything seems uneven, you’ll need to run the board over a jointer to give it that store-bought look and feel.
For whatever reason (air pressure, humidity, storage problems), the shape of a board, even after processing, can become warped. This might mean that a board that was straight before becoming cupped, giving it a slight bowl-like shape.
This may sound like a job for the planer to fix the board’s thickness, but it would be better to run the board over a jointer first since it’ll follow the natural curve of the board. In the end, a jointer should be able to re-flatten the board whilst removing as little wood as possible.
Before beginning a project, a good carpenter will first plan out every detail of the lumber they need, especially regarding size. This means not just looking at the length and width of the board but also how thick it needs to be. Running your board through over a jointer will help square edges and flatten the surfaces, but when you need to modify the thickness of the board, you can only turn to the planer to do it efficiently.
Not every side of a board needs to be perfectly flat and parallel to the opposite side. When building cabinets, shelves, or bed frames, any part that’s hidden from view doesn’t need to be perfectly flat. However, when making doors, tables, chairs, and any other piece of furniture that has little to no hidden parts and compartments, then you’ll need to make sure all sides are flat (jointer) and parallel. Give the board a few passes through a planer to get perfect results.
A board can become twisted – when a board can’t lie flat because two opposite sides twist away from each other – due to humidity and improper storage. To fix this problem, you need to run the board over a jointer several times. Begin by working on the highest point of the board and glide it over the jointer’s blade to ensure flawless results.
Jointer or Planer?
From the different situations where each of these tools comes in handy, we can see that a jointer is not a perfect replacement for a planer and vice versa. However, if you have neither tool and are planning on getting them both over time, we highly recommend purchasing a jointer before a planer.
The logic is simple: you need to flatten your boards’ surfaces and square their edges before they can be prepared for further processing. A planer is a part of “further processing” wood-based stock, so there’s no point in modifying the thickness of the board if the edges aren’t prepared for gluing, screwing, or connecting in any other way.
Types of Jointers
If you’re looking for a jointer, there are two types that you will come across – stand-mounted jointers and benchtop jointers.
Between the two models, the only significant differences are size and capacity. Stand-mounted jointers are the larger of the two types, meaning that they come with beefier motors that, theoretically, flatten and square your stock’s surfaces and edges more effectively. Also, stand-mounted jointers have longer infeed and outfeed tables so you can work on longer boards more easily.
The only drawbacks of a stand-mounted jointer are that they take up quite a bit of space and are a bit costly. If you don’t have much space to dedicate to a single tool, no matter how handy it is, then we recommend taking a look at benchtop jointers instead.
These are the compact, lightweight, and portable variety of jointer. Stand-mounted jointers require a bit of assembly and space, making them the inefficient tool for taking from job site to job site.
Even though bench-top jointers do have smaller, less powerful motors than their stand-mounted counterparts, this is in no way a reason to disregard them completely. These machines have the capacity to work on similar board types as stand-mounted models, but their infeed and outfeed tables are considerably shorter. This means benchtop jointers are better-suited for working on smaller or thinner stock since the tables don’t offer a tremendous amount of support.
In this article, we’re going to put our focus on benchtop jointers simply because they are the more user-friendly option for first-time buyers or amateur carpenters. Also, they come with cheaper price tags, so there’s that…
Benchtop Jointer Buying Guide
Looking for the right benchtop jointer for your home workshop requires a bit of research and patience. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different benchtop models to choose from. However, we can distinguish an OK model from an excellent model by comparing their most crucial features and specs. Take a look at our benchtop jointer buying guide to get an idea of what the most important considerations to make are.
The first thing you need to consider is the benchtop jointer’s motor. There’s no point in getting a tool if the motor doesn’t produce enough power for even the lightest jobs. The minimum amount of power we recommend getting is 1 HP. This should be more than enough for even some challenging surfacing and squaring tasks like when working on the hardwood.
We advise taking a look at how many cuts the cutter head can make per minute. In general, more cuts translates into better, neater finishes. The starting point for any benchtop jointer should be 10,000 CPM. Some models may even surpass 20,000 CPM. However, it’s not just about speed; there should be a balance between how quickly the cutter head cuts and how powerful each swipe of the cutter head is. As long as you find a 1-plus-HP benchtop joiner, the results should be flawless.
Infeed and Outfeed Tables
The infeed and outfeed tables are actually one of the most important things to pay attention to. First of all, you should check out how long the tables are. Longer tables mean better support for the larger stock. Benchtop jointers are usually around 28 inches long, and they don’t usually go longer than that. If you’re looking for super-long for preparing boards for doors and tables, you may need to get a stand-mount model.
Second, you need to consider how wide the feed tables are. Benchtop jointers usually range between 6 and 8 inches wide. The wider the table, the more you can do with the jointer. Consider what you need a jointer for and pick up a model based on your unique requirements.
Next, find out what materials were used to construct the tables. Heavy-duty materials like cast iron or stainless steel are great since it takes a lot of pressure and accidental bumps to warp out of shape. If the table becomes warped, there’s a chance that the jointer may be unable to flatten your stock’s entire surface.
Keep in mind that no matter how powerful or quick your benchtop jointer is, it’s going to require multiple passes in order to produce perfectly flat sides. Two or three passes should do the trick.
The cutting depth determines how much of your stock can be shaved off with each pass. When dimensioning boards, we generally want to remove ¼ to ½ of an inch of wood from each side. Benchtop jointers have cutting depths that are significantly shallower than this – around 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch. This is actually fine since if the cutter head were forced to reach ¼ to ½ of an inch per pass, you might be left with extremely warped boards.
When using a jointer, you need to push your stock against the fence as it rolls over the cutterhead. A good fence should be free of warps and made of a durable material. Some models come with fences that can tilt. This makes passing boards with angled cuts on one of its sides easier to do. Most of the time, benchtop models will have adjustable fences up to 135° with positive stops
Dust Collection Port
Finally, we highly recommend finding a benchtop jointer that has a dust collector or dust port where you can plug in your shop vac. A jointer will produce a lot of sawdust and wood debris, so it’s essential that you clean your surface regularly between boards or have a dust collection system hooked directly into the jointer.
Top 5 Benchtop Jointers under $1000
Now that we know what to look for, not it’s time to find the right jointer. If you’re on a budget, perhaps you should forget about the stand-mounted models since they can be extremely expensive, even though they do offer a ton of value. Good thing there are several budget-friendly benchtop jointers to choose from. The following segment will describe our picks of the top 5 benchtop jointers that are easy on the wallet.
5 Grizzly G0725 6 by 28-Inch Benchtop Jointer
The G0725 from Grizzly is the first product on our list. It features a 1-1/2-HP motor that delivers up to 20,000 CPM. With this much speed backed by a beefy (for a benchtop model) motor, you can expect excellent results with every pass over the cutterhead.
This benchtop jointer comes with a heavy-duty cast iron table that supports lumber of up to 6 inches wide. The cast iron fence bevels up to 135° to help with flattening surfaces of boards of up to 28 inches with angled edges. The fence has three positive stops at 45°, 90°, and 135°.
The maximum depth that you can set the dual cutterheads to is 1/8 inches. Users have found that the table keeps the boards perfectly aligned and balance, therefore reducing the risk of shaving away too much with each pass.
To help reduce the risk of creating a fire in your garage workshop, the G0725 comes with a 2-1/2-inch dust collection port that suits most standard shop vacs. Although the dust port is in place, many people have found the cutterheads to spray out more dust than shoot through the port. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to prepare a broom and dustpan to keep your entire work surface spotless.
- Motor: 1-1/2-HP, 110V, single-phase
- Cast iron table
- Cutterhead speed: 10, 000 RPM
4 WEN 6560 10-Amp 6-Inch Benchtop Jointer
The next benchtop jointer that makes our list is the 6560 from WEN. This unit also comes with a 1-1/2-HP motor that powers the dual knives to deliver up to 20,000 CPM. Like the previous model, a mixture of power and speed will produce flat surfaces and squared edges with very little effort.
The only part of the whole operation that actually requires a bit of muscle and patience is setting the machine up. Some parts of the instruction manual are in broken English so it can be quite a challenge when putting the unit together. After it’s all set up correctly, you can expect beautiful results with each pass of a board.
The maximum cutting depth of the 6560 is only 1/10 of an inch. Although this means you’ll need to make even more passes over the machine to reach the desired dimensions. This means spending more using the jointer, but it also reduces the risk of accidentally taking off to much than you originally planned.
The 28-1/2-inch table and 22-3/4-inch fence are both made of durable cast iron that do well in keeping your stock at the perfect level above the cutterhead. The fence can tilt between 45° and 135° for proper support of angle-edged stock.
- Features a spacious 6-1/4 x 28-1/2 inch table and a two-blade 6-1/8 inch Cutterhead
- 10-amp motor provides up to 20,000 cuts per minute
- Cast iron base prevents walking and vibration during operation
3 Delta Power Tools 37-071 6 Inch MIDI-Bench Jointer
The Delta Power Tools 37-071 is a heavy-duty benchtop jointer that flattens surface and squares edges extremely well. It comes with a 1.5-HP motor and dual knives that deliver up to 20,000 CPM. It has a maximum depth capacity of 1/8 of an inch, making quick work out of dimensioning and flattening scrap and rough lumber.
The cast iron table supports lumber of up to 28-1/2 x 6 inches. The 22-7/8-inch cast iron fence has three positive stops – 45°, 90° and 135° – for that helps in balancing your stock. However, the fence is a bit tricky to position at any angle other than the 90°. You may need help from clamps or a support wall to keep the fence tilted at 135° for extended periods of time.
One problem with the table is that it is somewhat hard to keep aligned with the cutter head during assembly. Even though the base is made of cast iron and prevents excessive vibrations, the table can sometimes slip for their spot, requiring you to constantly check to ensure perfect alignment, otherwise you’ll tear through more of your stock than you’d originally wanted.
This machine comes with a built-in dust blower (2-1/4 inches) and comes with a 2-3/8-inch adapter. The dust-blowing system works excellently at pushing most of the chips and dust through the chute and into your shop vac.
- Durable cast iron construction increases weight providing stability and reducing vibration
- Precision-machining of the table and fence ensures long term accuracy
- Heavy duty, cast iron fence support system for accurate jointing
2 PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed 6″ Jointer
The PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed 6″ Jointer is one of the most popular and highly rated benchtop jointers available. It comes with dual high-speed steel knives that cut up to 11,000 CPM. The motor really lends a helpful hand in creating flat surfaces, squared edges, and beautiful boards ready for planing or further processing.
It features a table that won’t move, even in the slightest, in a way that’ll ruin your stock. The blades and infeed-outfeed tables allow you to pass lumber up to 6 inches wide and remove the wood with each pass.
Some users have found problems in being able to adjust the infeed to the right height. We recommend either getting professional help when assembling this unit or paying extremely close attention when assembling the infeed and outfeed tables.
The 22-7/8-inch long fence tilts between 45° and 135°. We found that the fence is extremely stable, easy to adjust, and is durable against bumps from your stock or while transporting it from place to place.
The 2-1/2-inch dust port works well in keeping dust and chips from going airborne and falling all over you’re the floor of your garage workshop. Because it’s so effective, this makes this jointer one of the better options for operating in an enclosed space.
- Variable 6, 000 to 11, 000 RPM speed range allows the user to select the right speed for the size and hardness...
- Two knife cutter head with jack screw knife leveling arrangement for easy replacement and adjustment of knives
- Built-in cutter head lock facilitates knife replacement and adjustment
1 Cutech 40160H-CT 6″ Bench Top Spiral Cutterhead Jointer
The number one spot on our picks of the best benchtop jointers is the 40160H-CT from Cutech. This 6-inch machine comes with 12 double-sided HSS knives for maximum cutting efficiency. Furthermore, because there are more blades sharing the work, the blades are expected to last longer than in many other benchtop jointer models.
This machine comes with an enormous 10-amp motor delivers up to 20,000 CPM on the 12-blade setup. The blades have a maximum reach of 1/8 of an inch for tearing out more wood per swipe. Considering the number of the HSS blades and the speed, we recommend playing it a bit careful when using the 40160H-CT when tearing out thicker layers of your stock.
This unit has the longest table of the five products on our list. The table measures in at 30 x 6-3/16 inches, letting you pass longer boards over the cutter head with perfect balance. The tall 20-inch fence really helps in keeping your boards balance when cutting smaller surfaces.
One thing that we and many users don’t really appreciate is the aluminum construction of this benchtop unit. Aluminum, no matter how it’s processed, is never going to be as durable as cast iron or stainless steel. Because this unit is almost pure aluminum, it won’t be as capable in withstanding bumps during transport.
- Powerful 10 Amp 120V motor
- Spiral Cutterhead with 12 HSS Inserts
- Fence with 90 to 135 Degree Tilt
Jointers are a must-have tool if you’re a serious carpenter looking to reclaim old wood. Without a jointer, you’re left at the mercy of retailers who sell fully prepared wood boards at exorbitant prices (those fiends!). The savings you get from obtaining rough lumber from mills or by felling your own trees and restoring them with a jointer will pay for the tool in the long run.
There are two types of jointers to choose from: stand-mounted jointers and bench-top jointers. Although stand-mounted models are more powerful and have greater cutting capacities, bench-top models are the option that many choose to go with due to their more than satisfactory cutting capacities and cheap(er) price tags. In this article, we’ve focused more heavily on benchtop models since they offer value to both aspiring carpenters and commercial workers.
When shopping around for a benchtop jointer, there are several specs and features to keep in mind. These include how powerful a motor it comes with, how many cuts the machine can make per minute, the infeed and outfeed tables in terms of size and durability, how deep the cutterheads can reach per pass, whether and how far the fence can tilt, and the availability of dust collection ports.
We’ve included five budget-friendly (under $1,000) benchtop jointers to look at. Of the five models we’ve discussed in the previous segment, our favorite is the 4016OH-CT from Cutech. It comes with a huge 10-amp motor that powers one dozen high-speed steel spiral cutterheads to deliver up to 20,000 cuts per minute. It comes with durable steel infeed and outfeed tables and aluminum fence (bevels up to 135°) for optimal support on boards up to 30 inches long.
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Last update on 2021-03-04 / Most affiliate links and/or Images from Amazon Product Advertising API