Jointer: Shallow or Deep Cuts?


I just had my first real opportunity to prep some rough stock yesterday. I thought the conservative thing to do would be to set the jointer for very shallow (about 1/32nd) cuts, and make as many passes as necessary to remove all of the milling marks on the face of the board. I left the jointer set the same way to do the edge of the board, once the face was flat.
The results seem OK, but after about a zillion passes, I started to wonder if this was the proper strategy. Should I have used a more aggressive cut? What are the factors that I should apply when making this decision?
Thanks.
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Art Greenberg
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Art Greenberg wrote:

Whatever you want that works...
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Sharpness of knives, hardness of wood, grain orientation, horsepower and your technique all come into play. While taking off the high spots, you could probably increase the depth of cut without any problems, but when face jointing with the full width of your jointer, light cuts give a better finish, IMO. A light cut allows better technique, too, resulting in flat faces on thinner stock. I usually leave my depth of cut between 1/32nd and 1/64th of an inch. Tom
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Yes, Shallow.
I have set at "minimal" and leave it. I'm not sure how many boards you need to take a zillion passes.
Always crosscut to rough length before jointing. If a board is naturally flat it takes me 2 or three passes to remove the milling marks. If I have to remove any serious bow or cup I can usual get a surface withou marks within 6 passes.
If all the milling marks are gone and the board is not flat (that is smooth not flat) you have a set-up issue or a technique problem.
-Steve

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I would dispute this. I use a shallow cut for face jointing, because it's hard to maintain a consistant speed & pressure with the resistance of the whole width of the board. But for edge jointing I'll start with a much more aggressive cut until the edge is close to straight, because it makes it easier to control the board and avoid tapering it if I make fewer passes.

Bad advice, or at least wasteful. You want enough length beyond finished length to allow for planer snipe, which means wasting 8 or 10 inches on every piece (*). Where the stock allows, I try to plan for more than one finished piece from a board, and I joint and plane it before cutting to length (for significantly non-flat boards I cut first, simply because for those you'd end up jointing/planing too much of the board thickness away if you didn't)
(* note that you can sometimes save a little stock if you can plan your tenons to fall on the sniped end of a board)
John
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John McCoy wrote:

8 or 10 inches! Gadzooks! Sounds like it is time to either adjust your planer or its tables or shop for a new planer.
-John
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What kind of planer snipes that far from the end? The worst I've ever seen was about 2 1/2 ". If I have several pieces to plane, I run them through nose to tail. Usually only the first board has any snipe, and I can use a sacrificial scrap for that, so all my work pieces are snipe-free.
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Why would tapering be a problem? I joint the face, joint the edge then rip to width.
I will concede that taking a bigger bite will get you to flat faster in some cases, but, for me it's often quicker to take a couple extra passes than to fiddle with the setup.

Well I could not disagree more. Planning to cut that much stock off every board is wasteful. Tune you planer to avoid snipe. face-jointing a full-length board is wasteful as it requires more stock removal to remove the bow from a board. 1/4" bow over eight feet will require removal of 1/4" of stock. 2 four-footers from that same board will require about 1/16" of stock removal.
If you like to retain as much stock thickness as possible (I often do), crosscut first.
-Steve
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If the board is narrower at the ends than the middle, when you're edge joining it you need to feed it so only the middle is cut for the first few passes...otherwise the board will taper from one end to the other.

As I said, "where the stock allows". Obviously a board which is not reasonably flat to begin with can't be jointed full-length without excess loss of thickness, which is exactly what I said in the parenthesis above.
John
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I ususally put the board on a flat surface and estimate the amount to be removed for a flat surface. If it is 1/4" or more I start with about 1/8" cut.
I find an initial deep cut easier to manage than multiple passes with a shallow setting.
Technique is very important to avoid tapers.
I do not often use a jointer much anymore. I have a tablesaw jig that lets me cut boards for a glueline fit with no jointing. So I usually pass through table saw and the one pass to remove sawmarks on the thickness planer.
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In general, nature does not make boards that look like that. 99% of the time if a board has a convex edge, the opposide edge is concave.
Joint the concave edge, then rip the convex edge.
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On the contrary, I see a fair number like that...I don't know if it's an effect of different species, or drying technique, or what. Boards like that are also usually thicker in the middle than the ends, which leads me to think it's an effect of drying.

Definately the way to go when there's a concave edge to work with.
John
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Leads me to think it's the result of an incompetent sawyer, and you should be buying your lumber somewhere else.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Lost of times the dog boards will be thinner at the end. The cant sometimes warps, especially on super-fresh or reaction wood, plus dogging down in the wane area tends to push the ends out a bit - opposite wedge.
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You need to adjust your planer. I cut to length first. Smaller pieces are much easier to handle. No planer snipe.

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wrote:

the default setting on my jointer is <just barely cutting>. I adjust it for a deeper cut pretty often, though.
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wrote:

I generally use aggressive cuts with a shallow final pass, both jointer and planer. The small last cut gives a smooth surface.
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Coupl'a thots: (a) I'm usually a shallow person too! :) Jointing and planing - it's 1/32nd to 1/16th at most. (b) if I'm face jointing a board with a bad cup/bow/warp - then I'll work it up to 1/8th. As another said there are a half-dozen other factors to consider.
Also recall that you needn't face joint the board so the entire face is getting cut - you can sometimes just face joint enuff to present a flat face to the planer. You then let the planer do the work.
I also have found that I get much better results when I don't push down hard on the outfeed table. For the initial cuts, I have firm, but not heavy pressure down on the outfeed table and concentrate more on the force required to slide the stock horizontally.
At least that's what's been working for me!
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