If you’re looking to save a couple hundred or even thousand dollars on lumber, then the first tool you absolutely need to invest in is a jointer. Jointers are used to flatten the faces of boards and square its edges before feeding it through a planer or using a hand planer for further dimensioning.
Jointers can be huge floor models that leave a huge footprint or benchtop models that are both compact and portable. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the benchtop 20-600H Jointer from Rikon. This isn’t the most popular brand of power tools out there, but we feel that those who skimp on Rikon are missing a lot. Let’s see what this jointer is packing.
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Motor and Speed
The 20-600H is equipped with a sizable 10-amp motor that delivers 20,000 RPM for maximum cutting efficiency. It’s not the largest motor you’ll find in a benchtop jointer, but it provides plenty of power for flattening and squaring most types of wood.
This benchtop jointer has a 3-inch helical cutterhead with 12 high-speed steel knife inserts. The jointer can flatten boards as wide as 6 inches. The knives can reach as deep as ½ an inch in a single pass, though you should only remove ¼ of an inch at a time.
Size and Weight
When we say that this is a compact and lightweight jointer, we mean it. The 20-600H only takes up 19 x 9-3/8 inches of space on a workbench, so you don’t need to dedicate a tremendous amount of space for this tool. It’s also portable, weighing in at only 36 pounds, so taking it from job site to job site should be a cinch.
The drawback of compact jointers is that they can’t support huge pieces of lumber. You’ll need to cut large boards down to size with a circular saw or table saw before giving them a few passes over a jointer cutterhead. The 20-600H can only support boards up to 30 inches long and 6 inches wide. There are makeshift ways to extend the size of the table, such as placing the jointer next to support tables, though this significantly increases the required clearance space needed on either side of the tool.
Like most stationary power tools, a fence is a form of support which keeps the board from toppling off of the tool’s work surface. The 19-3/4 x 4-3/8-inch fence on the 20-600H can tilt up to 135° to make jointing odd-shaped pieces of lumber easier to do. We found that the fence’s locking mechanism has some issues, so the best way to keep the fence from moving around is by pushing the tool against a wall until the fence makes contact.
Like any good jointer, the 20-600H comes with a built-in dust port where you can connect a shop vac. The tool requires at least 100 CFM of suction power to remove chips and dust adequately. After testing this tool out, we have absolutely no complaints regarding the quality of the dust port.
Jointers are notorious for being some of the loudest tools in a woodshop. It’s completely understandable since they need to remove a ton of material to get boards ready for passing through a thicknesser and ready for processing. The 20-600H, however, breaks the norm by producing less than 100 decibels when running. That being said, it’s not something you’d want to operate without wearing a pair of earmuffs.
Now for the crux of the matter – how well does this machine work. In all honesty, we were a bit overwhelmed by the quality of the cut. Typically, two or three passes should suffice in producing a smooth finish and perfectly squared edges. However, we found that the 20-600H requires at least three of four passes to get your board’s surfaces flattened and edged adequately squared to a point.
This, however, does not necessarily mean that the tool is a piece of garbage. When passing boards over the cutterhead, be sure that the boards are at least ½ an inch wider and thicker than you need them to be since the tool requires cutting at least ½ an inch off for perfect finishes. The 20-600RH can be a great alternative for those looking to get into the furniture-building game but don’t want to tie up thousands of dollars in a single stationary tool.
The 20-600H from Rikon is far from being the absolute best benchtop jointer available on the market, but it definitely deserves some recognition for its ease of use, moderate board-cutting capacity, small footprint, and portability. Not to mention the relatively quiet operations of the tool when cutting lumber. All in all, the 20-600H is a great benchtop jointer than any amateur woodworker would love to have to save cash on lumber.