Regardless of species or quality, all lumber is rough before woodworkers do their magic. Most logs come with rough and curved surfaces, but the experienced woodworker has several tools to straighten things out and ready the material for work. The jointer is one of the best power tools for getting rough lumber in shape. Whether you are a professional woodworker or an enthusiastic DIYer, consider buying a jointer and know how to use it if you are serious about woodworking.
In this article, we look at the jointer. This piece covers the many projects you can handle with a jointer and how to use one. If you are not sure of the right tool to remove bumps on wood surfaces, this post provides a comprehensive outline of jointer uses and more. Here we go!
What Exactly Is a Jointer?
A jointer is a large powered tool used to straighten the edges and face of rough wood. Picture a hand plane turned upside down, that’s what a jointer is. However, it is powered and you have to feed the material into it rather than move the tool against the wood as you do with a hand plane.
A hand planer and a jointer perform the same function except that the latter is powered and works in the opposite direction. When you need to make perfectly straight edges on a piece of wood, a jointer is the ideal tool for the job. However, you cannot confuse this tool with a planer or jointer-planer. A planer ensures the thickness of a board while a jointer-planer is a combination of both tools. To have a deeper understanding of what a jointer is, let’s look at the various parts of the tool.
Parts of a Jointer
The jointer is a simple tool with the following essential parts including:
This is where you pass the board into the machine. Most jointers come with a long and smooth metallic table to ensure uniform and balanced movement into the cutting area.
The fence serves as a guide to ensure the board passing through the jointer maintains a uniform level throughout. This creates a perfect cut through the work surface. If you need to make cuts at different angles, you can adjust the fence to the desired degree or elevation.
After cutting, you pass the board out of the jointer through this point. It is like the infeed table but at the opposite end.
This part houses the blades that cut the surface of the wood. As you feed the lumber into the jointer from the infeed table, it passes through the cutterhead which removes the rough and uneven edges, producing a smooth board at the outfeed table. You must take precautions to protect yourself from the cutterhead as the knives can be sharp and dangerous.
The guards protect your hands from the blade of the cutterhead during operation. Learn to use a jointer safely and you will find the tool an indispensable part of your workshop.
Why You Need a Jointer in Your Workshop
A jointer helps you join two pieces of wood with no hassle by making their faces even and smooth. If your work requires joining pieces of wood, you need this tool. It may not be as versatile as a jigsaw or powerful as a chainsaw, but the jointer makes woodworking easier, faster and more fun. And that’s why experienced woodworkers and serious DIYers always have one in their shop.
If you work with wood that curves and warp such as pine, a jointer will make your work faster. While a hand plane can also do the work of a jointer and planer, it requires a high level of skill and energy, a combination most people lack. You might wonder whether to get a jointer or planer first but it’s best to buy the jointer before the planer. The reason is that the jointer is a fundamental tool for every woodworking operation as it gets your board ready. So a jointer is one stationary tool you don’t want to miss in your shop. Check out our jointer buying guide for the best offers on the market.
A jointer may not be the most versatile tool in the shop, but it performs a vital function in woodworking. The tool excels at four primary roles although you can do more with it if you are creative. Here are things you can do with a jointer.
Flatten and Straighten One Face of a Board
When you need to remove twists and cups from the surface of a board, the jointer helps to achieve a perfect and true flat face. While the tool cannot make two parallel faces, the jointer makes one face of a board flat and straight. This makes it easier to get the best results from the planer which reduces the thickness of the board. As you know, the planer only changes the thickness of a board; it cannot remove curves or twists in its face. You need to feed the board into the jointer first to make the face flat so you can have two parallel surfaces after putting it through the planer.
Square One Edge of a Board to One Face
A jointer allows you to get a square and straightedge to a planed face. But to achieve this, you need to place the flattened surface against the fence so the jointed edge is square to that face. It’s like the way you surface a board with a hand plane, but with a motorized tool which makes the work faster and easier.
Trim Doors to Size
When a door does not fit during installation, a quick way to remove the obstructing mass is by planing. With a jointer, you can quickly rework the length and breadth of a door to fit the frame. However, use precise markings and backer blocks behind the door to avoid tear out.
Make Tapered Legs
Do you know a jointer is ideal for making tapered legs for tables and chairs? Using the same principle of the hand plane, you can use a jointer to taper sections or the whole length of a leg. You only need to take it slow and draw accurate markings on the parts of the wood you want to work on. Use push blocks to feed the board through the jointer and repeat until you get the correct taper for your project.
Other Jointer Uses
You can also use the jointer to make mitered butt joints along a board’s length. This is possible because most jointers have a fence which you can bevel up to 45 degrees. The tool can also make stopped chamfers on the edge of a board.
A jointer is a versatile tool in the hands of a creative woodworker. With practice, you will discover more ways of using this important machine and learn to appreciate its simplicity. Whether you are readying boards for joinery, reworking doors during framing or making delicate tapered legs for upholstery projects, the jointer always comes in handy.
How Does a Jointer Work?
A jointer is used to level off pieces of rough wood. Its operation is like that of a hand plane, but the jointer is a motorized tool which makes it faster and easier to use. But how does it work? Let’s find out below.
The Operating Mechanism of a Jointer
As said earlier, it’s important to understand the function of the different parts of the jointer. This will give you background knowledge of the tool’s working principle. To recap, the jointer has an infeed table, outfeed table, a cutter head, fence, guard, and the ON/OFF switch.
A jointer’s cutter head has two or three well-arranged blades positioned between the infeed and outfeed tables. The infeed table adjusts for depth of cut while the outfeed table is level with the knives at the center. This means you pass the stock into the machine through the infeed stock and retrieve from the outfeed stock. Thus the infeed table controls the amount of wood the machine removes from the board.
For best results, keep the outfeed table perfectly level with the knives so that the board glides over the cutterhead smoothly to the outfeed table. During use, place the face of the board to be jointed against the fence while resting the edge to be jointed on the infeed table.
You need to adjust the height of the infeed table to determine the amount of material the jointer removes from the board. Then feed the board across the cutterhead to remove an amount of material that keeps the knives level with the outfeed table. That way, the whole process is fluid and seamless and you get straight and square boards all the time.
An adjustable fence allows you to bevel or square up a board’s edge. To square off two adjacent planes on a board, set the fence perpendicular to the cutter and tables and feed the stock against the fence with successive cuts. The jointer works like the hand plane, only that it is faster and more accurate. As long as you adjust the tables correctly, you will shave off the right amount of material easily. However, you need to take safety precautions and understand how to use the parts of your jointer to get the best results and optimize your productivity.
How to Use a Jointer
You might have the best tools in your woodworking shop, but you will turn out poor results if you don’t know how to use them. A jointer might be a straightforward tool, but many people get its operation wrong. That’s why you must master the machine before using it to edge and square your boards.
To get maximum value from your jointer, get:
- A jointer in top condition
- Machinist’s Square/Angle Gauge
- Wood Board
The following steps will show you the best way to use a jointer.
Get to Know the Tool
The first step before switching your jointer ON is to familiarize yourself with the parts, features, and functions of the machine. Don’t assume you know the parts and features of the tool as these can differ according to the manufacturer and model.
So read and understand the manual to know the machine better. Check out the features and controls on the tool. Try your hands on the tables, the fence, and the cutterhead, adjusting and setting the parts to understand how they work together.
Familiarizing yourself with the jointer before operation helps you know the tool better, makes operation safer and improves your results. So before you joint, understand what makes up the machine and how the different parts work.
Proper Setting and Adjustments
It’s vital that the jointer’s tables are parallel to each other before use. Go through the user manual for the correct procedure for adjusting the machine. Don’t forget to check the fence height and angle too.
The fence must be square with the tables. A machinist’s square or an angle gauge will do the job.
Your manual will specify the dimensions of the board the jointer can handle safely. This is important because feeding an oversized or undersized board stock into the jointer can damage the knives, impair the machine’s function and lead to serious injuries. If the board is too small, it can break and expose you to the cutterhead while a bigger board reduces the machine’s efficiency.
If you can balance the board on the infeed table and pass it through successfully, it probably is of the right length. However, you can also feed longer boards to the jointer using a straightedge or router. This may be more difficult to set up than using the right size boards, but it is doable. For best results, set the jointer for boards within the manufacturer’s specifications.
Depth of Cut
It’s important to set a small depth of cut for two main reasons. First, it makes the machine’s work easier since it uses less power to shave off smaller bits off the board. Second, you can monitor the progress on the board with each pass through the jointer.
Rather than set an aggressive 1/6″ cut depth, a 1/32″ makes the job easy on the jointer and also lets you work faster. Besides, smaller depths of cut provide more professional results compared to deeper cuts and you will complete the job in two or three passes.
Read the Grain Direction
To get the best results from your jointer operations, it’s vital to know how to read the grain direction. You want the grain to point toward the tail end of the board as you feed it through. That way, you can get a higher surface quality.
Prior to edge jointing, it’s essential to flatten the board stock so you can square it against the jointer’s fence. Not doing this can reduce job quality and increase the risk of accidents. The amount of flattening depends on the level of crookedness on the board’s face.
You may have to use a hand plane to smooth crooked edges before passing through the jointer. The goal is to have an edge straight and safe enough to feed into the jointer for best results.
Board Stock Positioning
To position the board on the jointer, place the board against the fence keeping the preferred edge on the infeed table. The board stock must be square to the jointer’s face if you want to get good results. If the wood is crooked or twisted, you will need to plane the board’s face before feeding through the jointer.
Feed the Board through the Jointer
To feed the stock through, place your left hand at the top of the board’s top edge and apply moderate pressure. Hold the board steady against the jointer’s fence and make sure you note the pressure on the board as it passes through the cutterhead. Excessive pressure on the board at the location of the cutterhead will lead to a concave edge as the knives will shave off too much material.
Lock your left hand in position when the board passes over the cutterhead. Make sure the board is level with the outfeed table as the rest of its length pass over the cutterhead. Many people find this point difficult but you can get excellent results by controlling the pressure on the board and adjusting the rate with your right hand. It’s important to pass the board slowly to prevent a rippled board surface.
A jointer is an important tool for professionals and serious woodworking enthusiasts. The tool helps you ready boards for joinery works and makes the work of the planer faster and easier. Plus, it allows you to use more affordable rough sawn lumber, helping you save cost without compromising quality.
The jointer is a heavy-duty machine that’s difficult to move around. It is also expensive and takes a large amount of shop space. But if you want to reduce the cost of lumber and widen your options regarding the stock you use for projects, this tool is a worthy investment. It makes your work faster, easier, and more professional. We hope this article has shed more light on this important woodworking tool, its function and how to use it for best results.