buying a used jointer

What are some things to look for when buying a used jointer. Are there models to avoid, what about those bench top models with aluminum tables?
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Benchtop models can be useful for smaller workpieces like face frames, not more than a max of 2-3 feet long and a couple or three inches wide. If you're thinking of buying a used one -- especially if it has an aluminum table -- a good investment would be a 3 ft.steel straightedge so you can check its flatness/straightness. And take a try square with you to assure that the fence will lock at a perfect right angle. Check to see that the locking flanges have not been beat up by over-tightening.
Check to see how accessible the blades are for adjustment/replacement and make sure there are no major gouges in the table or fence.
Don't know of any specific brands to avoid...maybe someone else can chime in here.

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I had a Delta benchtop. Never managed to get a straight edge off it, even with 2' boards. I sold it and bought a used Delta full size. Perfectly straight, no problem.
I got lucky. The guy didn't know how to adjust his jointer, and it sure wasn't working right. Yet I bought it and it turned out to be fine. You can hope to be as lucky as I was, or you can learn how to adjust a jointer before you buy it, and don't buy it unless you can get a good straight edge off of it.
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wrote:

Big and heavy is good. Very important is flatness. I would not recommend a bench top model nor one with an aluminum table.
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habbi,
Go here http://woodworking.homeip.net/wood/Tuning%20Tools/Jointers/Jointers.html and read. This will give you some insight on what to look for since if you know how to do a tune-up, you can then pretty much check out the whole unit.
You didn't mention what kind of woodworking you're doing but you do get what you pay for. I bought a cast iron 4" bench top jointer years ago - and I still have it. I use it as a boat anchor or extra weight when I need to weigh something down.....
I wouldn't purchase another bench top jointer unless all I was doing was making models or other small items. A decent jointer can save you money and a lot of headaches. Others will waste wood and leave you frazzled trying to get it aligned. Best to save for awhile and find a jointer that has a good reputation - used or new. There were a few Delta 6" bench top models a couple of years back that were not worth a nickel and a lot of posts were made here about them. For an economical model look to Grizzly. From there are many choices (Delta, General, Jet, Powermatic etc...) and of course, the price starts going up.
Bob S.

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Wow! Thanks, BobS, that's the best article I've ever read on jointer tuning and the graphics are fantastic. I wonder who wrote it. Never seen a better article on the subject on "Fine Woodworking." I have filed it and it is going in my "Favorites."

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Please read my post on "cheap machinery" posted yesterday. It will reveal some of the pitfalls of buying cheap machinery.
On a used joiner look for:
1. Tables should be flat and both infeed and outfeed tables should be on the same plane, though the latter can be corrected by fidgiting with them the former can only be corrected by expensive machine shop work. If the tables are not flat pass on it at any price.
2. The cutter head cutouts (where the gibs and knives are seated) should be either equipped with jack screws (to raise and lower the blades which must be set flush with the outfeed table) or there should be small springs to keep the knives raised so they can be set flush.
3. Fence should also be flat and straight. You can use a straight edge to check this. Fence should be perpindicular to cutterhead--if it isn't make sure it can be adjusted so that it is 90 degrees to cutterhead and knives. Note that you can correct a warped fence by adding a plywood or hardwood fence which you could bolt to the existing, warped fence. An untrue fence, however, should call for a big reduction in price.
4. Try to make a heavy cut to determine if the motor bogs down on you--The depth of cut should be determined by the size of motor--Don't try to take 3/16ths off if it only powered by a 1/3 HP motor.
5. Cast iron, machined pulleys (sheaves) are a lot better than die-cast or stamped sheaves.
6. If you plan on joining boards of any length stay away from short beds. If you make doll-house furniture a short bed will be OK for your purpose.
7. If you plan on running your boards through a planer after joining them the witdth of your jointer should equal the size of the boards you plan on planing. There are tricks, however, that some woodworkers use to get around this, i.e., jigging up a planer to join a board; jigging up a router to do the same thing.
8. If you have a dial gauge you can check both the cutterhead and the motor shaft for trueness.
9. Make sure the Infeed and Outfeed tables move up and down. Note, that some small, inexpensive jointers have a fixed outfeed table.
10. If you plan on rabbeting with your jointer you will have to get a model designed for this. They are recognizable by the cast-iron projection on the infeed table.
There are a lot of very knowledgeable people in this group and I'm sure some of them will see all sorts of things I have missed but at least I have given you a starting point. Good luck and stay away from Harbor Freight cheapo jointers.
Joe

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around
Could you please clarify what you mean? Are you saying that if I want to plane a board 12" wide that I jointed from narrower boards, I need a 12" wide jointer?
- Owen -
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If I understand you correctly you are asking if it necessary to rejoint a glueup of several boards which would exceed the width of your joiner.
I think this would depend entirely on the quality and flatness of your glueup. If your glueup has turned out with a cup or a bow or a twist how else would you get that out unless you flattened one side on a jointer (assuming you would not plane it out with a hand plane or use any of the other devices I alluded to. I'm sure you are aware that a planer (absent a specially constructed jig--directions for which appear periodically in WW magazines) can only dimension lumber (including glueups) which are flat on one side. If your glueup is bowed your planer's rollers will flatten it out as it goes through the machine but the bow would spring right back. Fortunately glueups rarely come out cupped or bowed, especially if you have been careful. Hope that clarifies what I said.
Joe

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Good thing. The chances of me ever owning anything larger than a 6" or 8" jointer are pretty slim. I would imagine that most of the people here are getting their jobs done with smaller jointers. I do know a commercial shop that has a very wide jointer (12"min, probably larger), but I've never seen him use it; he always uses the 8" one when I'm around.

Yes. Thanks.
- Owen -
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Well, just can't find them wide boards no more and fewer and fewer people are cutting their own trees and sawing their own lumber. That's one reason wide joiners (12 inches and over) are rarely seen anymore.

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reason
Yah. It's a little annoying to look at things my wife's grandfather made and know I'd have a really hard time doing it because it would cost a fortune to get the material that wide. Sometimes I wish everyone would just slow down and build better. Look at some really old day to day items; there was always a decoration somewhere, even though there was no practical reason to put it there. If we did have that pace the trees would have a better chance to grow big.
That said, let me mention what I was told in a seminar at the wood show last fall. The whole seminar was just this every experienced cabinet maker telling us the basic tips he had learned in his 30 years on the job. One of them was this: no board wider than 4". If you need wider, and you've got wider, first rip it into 4" pieces, then glue them back up, alternating the growth rings, of course. Struck me as a shame, but I'm perfectly willing to believe it got the job done a whole lot better for him.
I sitll like the look of those deep, single slab shelves my wife's grandfather made, though. Sigh...
- Owen -
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Owen Lawrence wrote:

No, you need a 12" wide planer. You can try "planing" a 12" wide board on a 6 inch or 8 inch jointer but you need to do one-half of the board at a time and one half will be against the grain. If the jointer is set up perfectly you might get something that is acceptable to you.
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habbi wrote:

Avoid aluminum tables at all costs. Benchtop jointers are dubious too. I have one (with aluminum tables) and it was a really dumb purchase. I should have sucked it up and gotten one of those 200-pound free-standing jobbies.
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"Silvan" writes:

Don't paint all bench top units with the same brush.
Have an old Rockwell, probably at least 40-50 years, 4" bench top unit which serves me well.
Still like to have my 6" Craftsman, which was stolen, back, but in the meantime...................
Lew
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