I'm close to loosing all patience with my 6 1/8" jointer/planer and
hoping for some advice. It's a Craftsman bench top model and my
history with sears woodworking tools leaves me to first suspect the
machine. Let me get to the problem first.
All boards I plane (and I have only worked with 4S softwood pine) will
produce a flat face, but this flat face is always deeper on one end
than the other. Thus, I start with two sides something close to 90deg
and working on edge 1 starts moving the two sides closer to 80deg. If
I try to correct the problem by on edge two I get even closer to 70deg.
Obviously one side of the blades/plates/something is lower/higher than
the other but I can't figure it out. My straight edges aren't as
reliable as I'd like so I tried a 1-2-3 block on the out feed with
feeler guages on the infeed to check for differences along the length.
Might I mention I can't get the infeed to the same level as the outfeed
so this is the only way to check for coplanar tables as well. The
feeler guage didn't seem to show any difference between the two in
terms of height but I don't feel as confident as I might if I could
compare the two on a granite surface out in space to make sure that
everything is truly level to 0.0000000001+- inches. Do you see how
nuts this is making me?
I would like to think the problem rests in my technique and I've read
the book on technique. I understand snipe (not a problem with me at
this point), I get the concept of planing an edge, then a face then
surface planing opposite face then finishing edge on the joiner. I get
the hand over hand, weight transfer from outfeed to infeed idea. I've
read, get and tried it all and still get these boards that close in
from 90 to 0 degrees. Last night I jointed 1 inch off a board, worked
until 1:08AM adjusting the blades (lost the allen wrench between the
roller/infeed, took apart the entire machine, rebuilt it, readjusted
blades), felt confident I was getting a flat face/90deg cut, tried it
this morning and same thing.
How long is the board you're working with? For adjustment and checking
purposes I'd start with a board not much longer than the infeed bed,
that was fairly straight to begin with.
Jointing a long, warped board on a benchtop jointer is an art I was
never able to master.
I think maybe you want to much from a jointer. If you edge or face a
board over and over on the same side you will start to see the board
get smaller on the tail end or one one edge. It's just the physics of
the system in my opinion.
I think you can rely on a jointer to:
A: Flatten one face of a board. If this takes several passes you will
likely notice that one edge or end is thinner than the other.
B: Straighten one edge by indexing the newly flattened face against the
fence. Now you have one flat face with one edge at exact 90 (if you
have a good setup on the fence).
Now you can use the Planer to flatten the other face relative to the
already flattened face and the TS to straighten the other edge relative
to the straight edge.
Does this sound right?
I can't tell which surface and which dimension/angle with respect of
surface to edge you're having a problem with from your description...
Are you ending up w/ stock of varying thickness while trying to surface
it or an edge that is out of square w/ the face?
If the former, there's a note from Swingman that I concur is quite
likely a possibility that is technique-related unless you made a
description error. If the latter, the fence may be out of square w/
the tables rather than the knives being out of adjustment.
Your description of technique/process also left me a little confused as
well as to what you're after w/ a jointer. The point/sequence of
face-jointing first w/ the jointer is to get one flat surface which
becomes the reference. Then need to get the opposite surface flat and
parallel to that one and the jointer isn't the ideal way to do that --
that's the planer's job. Problem w/ the jointer for the second face is
that once you've taken some material off the first face or if it was
rough-sawn material to begin with, the second face isn't parallel to
the first but the cut is referenced only to that surface so, in
general, you end up w/ a second face also flat but not parallel to the
first. It is _extremely_ difficult to manually adjust the amount of
cut in the right place to correct the initial discrepancy unless it is
very large and so typically every pass simply compounds the problem...
Sorry dpb, I wrote my description before going to lunch and was simply
fried. After re-reading it I think it's confusing too so I'll start
Let's say I have a 2"x4"x4' board with sides A (top), B (right), C
(bottom), D (left), E (front), F (back). I want to get C and D at 90
deg, and they're close to start with. I know that I will have snipe
affecting E & F based upon where I place my weight as the board passes
over the knives. My concern isn't so much E&F as C&B. C&B start close
to 90deg then gets closer to 0deg with ever pass that C stays where it
is. C always remains flat but the angle of C in relation to B moves in
So, I have this nice flat surface (C) even though it's less than 90deg
in relation to B. I should be able to run C against the vertical fence
and make B = 90. Nope. As I run it, C and B edge closer to 0 as the
board begins turning into a long board with wedged D side .
Assuming that your fence isn't moving during the operation, it sounds
like a technique problem.
Assuming you've jointed face C, and maybe thickness-planed face E.
To edge-joint B (or D) you should be pressing C (or E, depending on
grain direction) against the fence directly over the cutterhead. If you
do this, and the fence is at 90 degrees to the cutterhead, then the face
and edge will be perpendicular.
This sounds to me like your fence is not square with the tables. This
would cause each pass jointing an edge to get progressively worse.
Either that or your infeed or outfeed tables are twisted at a funny
angle. I don't even know how that is possible on a jointer, but I guess
it could be the case.
Either way, sounds like the angle between your tables and fence is not
at 90 degrees.
Then the fence isn't perpendicular to the table (assuming you've got
the knives parallel to the table).
It is possible for a fence in particular to have warp in it but in that
case you would probably be able to feel some rock and see that the
bottom edge doesn't stay straight and flat as well as the tendency to
create an out of square edge (with respect to the face against the
fence). If it is simply the fence out of square, then if you make one
pass and reverse the piece (assuming you've run it thru the planer to
have the two faces parallel, you should return it back to the previous
condition. If the fence actually were warped, there's little recourse
other than having a machine shop resurface it.
Also, it is necessary to make sure you actually are holding the face
firmly against the fence and not letting the bottom edge control the
cut in order to correct an out of square edge. This is easy to let
happen if you put excessive vertical pressure on the workpiece. If the
fence isn't rigid, it's also possible to cause it to move some by
exerting excess force in the horizontal direction as well.
On a related topic, your comment regarding snipe is indicative of
either an operational or setup problem -- if the knives are properly
set and the downward force is not excessive or in the wrong place,
there should be virtually no discernible snipe. If there is, something
ain't right. The key is to start w/ the infeed table controlling and
then transfer to the outfeed table controlling as the jointed edge
moves to the outfeed. W/ a properly set up jointer, this will achieve
a straight jointed edge with no snipe on either end.
I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm _more_ confused now!
Are you sure that your jointer fence is set to 90d?
Are you talking about ending up with a board that is tapered in either
width or thickness? If you are using the jointer on opposite faces or
edges you are almost guaranteed to end up with those faces or edges
A man who throws dirt loses ground.
Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - firstname.lastname@example.org
I can probably help you out (or at least figure out what's going
It's hard for me to be sure exactly what you are talking about. To me,
the "ends" of a board are the shorter width. "End grain" is on the
ends of a board. Are you saying that you are jointing a face or an
edge of a board and that you are having trouble keeping it parallel
with the opposite face/edge? Or, are you saying that the depth of the
cut across the width of the board isn't consistent?
Please don't interchange the terms "sides" or "edge". It makes it very
difficult to follow what you are describing. Use the term "edge" to
describe a narrow side. Use the term "face" to describe a wide side.
If the piece being jointed is square, then they are all faces.
So, are you saying that you are having trouble jointing an edge so that
it is square to a face?
Is "edge two" opposite or adjacent to "edge 1"? See, I just can't
picture what you are talking about. Use "opposite edge" or "adjacent
Proper jointer alignment starts with making sure that the knives are
all at the same level as the outfeed table. It could be that this is
your problem, I don't know. Then you want to make sure that the infeed
table is parallel to the outfeed table. It could be that this is your
problem, I don't know. Finally, you want to make sure that the fence
is square with both tables. This could also be your problem.
First, I will have to understand your symptoms. Then I can direct you
through all the steps needed to check each one of the major alignments
on a jointer. You might also find it handy to view the video on this
There's another video with different voice-over on this page under the
heading "Using a flat indicator tip to set jointer knives" (which is a
practice which will can lead to the problems that you are suffering).
You'll notice that I advocate the use of a dial indicator. This
eliminates all of the guess work that you are currently finding so
frustrating. It doesn't have to be a TS-Aligner Jr. Any indicator jig
that can point the dial indicator downward will work. It takes
considerable skill to subjectively discern jointer knives using a 123
block and some feeler gages. I certainly can't do it as well as I can
with a dial indicator.
Yep. There's another way to do a relative comparison of the two tables
without going juts. The two tables don't have to be at the same level
(in fact, it's easier if they are not). It does involve the use of a
long straight edge and a dial indicator. Here's the setup (photo from
Hmmm.... Try it this way: Joint a face, then joint an adjcent edge
using the jointed face against the fence. Then use your tablesaw to
rip the opposite edge parallel. And finally use a surface planer to
make the opposite face parallel. It's not generally practical to use a
jointer to make two faces or two edges parallel. It's good for
creating a flat surface (facing) and for squaring two adjcent faces (or
a face to an edge).
I'm sure you mean "infeed to outfeed" here.
I just don't understand what this means. How do boards "close in from
90 to 0 degrees"? 90 degrees is square. 0 degrees is flat (no angle).
Go get yourself a low cost dial indicator and I'll help you to figure
out exactly what is wrong without any guess work or frustration.
Thank you so much for your suggestions and links. As I mentioned to
dbs, my description of the problem was confusing (sorry).
Thanks everyone for offering help, really. I think I'm simply being
reluctant to purchase a dial indicator for set-up but I'm starting to
think that is unavoidable when you own woodworking machines. PS I love
Lee Valley/Veritas. Too bad every company doesn't work as hard as they
do to provide value and accuracy.
I read through the revised description. I might be able to figure it
out, but I don't think so. "left", "right", "top", "bottom", etc. are
all relative terms. Your left is my right and if you turn a board to
do something then the top, which was side "A" is not the top any more,
etc. And, there's no way for me to know if side A is a face or an
edge. And, "C and B edge closer to 0 as the board begins turning into
a long board with wedged D side" is a complete mystery to me. Does
this mean that the angle between a face and an edge is becoming larger
or smaller than 90 degrees? Is the board actually growing longer? How
is a side becomming "wedged"? Does this mean that opposite sides are
not parallel? Which way are they not parallel (along their length,
across their width, or both)?
Please use standard terms: face, edge, adjcent, opposite, etc.
More and more I'm beginning to think that you want your jointer to do
the entire task of stock preparation on all four sides of the board.
This just isn't what it was meant for. It is good at making a surface
flat and square in relation to another surface. However, it is not
intended to be used to make two surfaces parallel. Do one face side
and one edge side on the jointer, period. Then finish up the board on
a table saw (the opposite edge) and the planer (opposite face).
Everything will be flat, square, and parallel.
Using dial indicators is not unavoidable. There are plenty of people
who avoid them. Some even insist on avoiding them with religious
fervor!. But, if you expect your machines to do their work properly
and accurately, and you don't like being frustrated, then a dial
indicator is a nice thing to have. It's natural to be a bit
aprehensive about using an unfamiliar tool but dial indicators are low
cost and extremely easy to use. And, after having handled literally
thousands of them, I've never been bitten.
There are low cost dial indictors.
Harbor Freight has a set (w/base) that has a sale price of about $15.
Grizzly has one on sale this Christmas for $22.25 (with a molded case).
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
If the knives are not parallel to outfeed table (one side high) there will
be rocking as the board moves to tha outfeed table which you should be able
to feel. A common error for ppl learning to use a jointer is they place
tooooooo much force trying to hold timber down. You don't need to stand on a
board to keep it flat, your main purpose is to guide the board through. A
reasonable gentle touch is all that is required.From the description it
sounds very much like the infeed table is not parallel to outfeed table but
knives are parallel to outfeed. This would cause more to be planed from one
side than the other and increase the amount of error with each successive
my suggestions would be
Ignore the fence ..... nothing to do with face jointing.
If the fence is not square to table when jointing a edge the angle would
not change with successive passes, it would always remain tha same degree of
error, even after 100 passes.
Check and adjust knives to outfeed table .... both level with and parallel
to outfeed table
Check infeed table for level in relation to outfeed table either by
Let teh machine tell you what is wrong. Run piece through jointer (E end
first, mark on timber so you dont get as confused as we are) ...
measure. If out of parallel feed back through jointer opposite end first
( F end) ... measure. If board now same thickness either side (within
reason) your infeed table is not parallel to outfeed. mmmmmm guess I know
what your doing for the next cpl of hours
you dont need dial indicators ... only implements required to set up jointer
accuratly is a cpl of pieces of timber. Let the machine talk to you and tell
you what the prob is rather than trying to find an interpretor to talk to
Be at one with the machine and 'feel the force'
Yep, there's definitely some religious fervor in these responses!
True, a dial indicator isn't absolutely needed. But, if you had one,
and had used it to check the alignment of your jointer, then...
1. You wouldn't be so unsure about your jointer knife alignment.
2. You would have found and accurately corrected any possible infeed
3. You wouldn't have wasted a whole bunch of time and wood trying to
learn "Jointerese" by trial and error.
4. You wouldn't be so frustrated trying to "feel the force" because you
would be able to measure it with a reliable instrument.
People do it both ways successfully. It all depends on how you want to
approach the problem. You can spend $15 on a dial indicator and get
your jointer aligned quickly without any test cuts, trial and error, or
doubts. Or, if your time is absolutely worthless to you, then you can
continue to spend hours (maybe even days) doing more test cuts, making
more adjustments based on what you think the machine is saying to you,
and hoping that the results eventually show some improvement. I think
you've already spent a fair amount of time trying to learn
"Jointerese". How about taking a more intelligent (and less religious)
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