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
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.
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.
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."
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
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
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
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
Hope that clarifies what I said.
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.
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.
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 -
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.
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
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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
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