MOTHER EARTH NEWS Woodworking Jointer Survey

MOTHER EARTH NEWS shares its survey of the woodworking jointer stationary tool, including an explanation of how the jointer works, its value as a woodworking tool, and charts with manufacturer information.

| May/June 1986

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    Two-in-one jointer tools from manufacturers.
  • Jointer woodworking tool
    A cylindrical cutterhead equipped with two or three full-length knives is mounted on a frame and driven at speeds of up to 10,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), either by belt or directly by the motor shaft.
  • 099-050-02tab.jpg
    Comparison of jointer tools from various manufacturers.

  • 099-050-01tab.jpg
  • Jointer woodworking tool
  • 099-050-02tab.jpg

A good woodworking jointer can save untold time and expense in any woodshop. As its name implies, this tool is used to prepare stock for smooth, matching joints . . . essentially by removing a board's high spots to create a straight slab of wood with face sides and edges. (See the Jointer survey charts in the image gallery).

Its mate, the thickness planer (surveyed in MOTHER EARTH NEWS N0. 97), can make a highly accurate cut once it has a true side to reference, so many manufacturers offer combination jointer-planers to satisfy the need for both tools in one compact unit.

Woodworking Jointer Guide

Despite the differences in appearance between woodworking jointers of various manufacture, the tools function in essentially the same manner. A cylindrical cutterhead equipped with two or three full-length knives is mounted on a frame and driven at speeds of up to 10,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), either by belt or directly by the motor shaft. Separate tables, mounted before and after the cutterhead on inclined ramps, or ways, can be individually raised or lowered in increments to expose the knife edges by degrees. A pivoting safety guard uncovers the blades as the work passes over the cutterhead.

To accommodate bevel and rabbet cuts, a fence is fastened to one side of the tables. It's usually made to tilt 45 degrees to the right and left and can also be moved laterally across the feeding surface. Generally, the entire unit is mounted on a stand or cabinet at a comfortable working height, but some manufacturers offer benchtop models as well.

In most stationary tools — and the jointer is no exception — substantial mass is desirable to dampen vibration and maintain accuracy. A cast-iron frame and cast-iron components certainly have the benefits of strength and warp resistance, but if portability is a concern, cast alloy offers similar characteristics with a reduction in weight.

The tables, too, affect the precision of the work. It stands to reason that the longer the infeed and outfeed surfaces, the greater the consistency of the cut. Unfortunately, many woodworkers simply don't have room to accommodate a 5-1/2-foot bed . . . but some might find a happy medium in designs with folding table extensions which can be dropped for storage. Ideally, the tables should be fastened to the jointer frame in a manner that allows as little play as possible throughout the platforms' range of adjustment. Ramps equipped with dovetailed or slotted-channel ways afford a minimum of unwanted movement.

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