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?
artg AT eclipse (remove this) DOT net
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
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.
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)
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
Why would tapering be a problem? I joint the face, joint the edge then rip
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
If you like to retain as much stock thickness as possible (I often do),
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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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