I had no idea I would spark this much conversation- and useful tips.
If this were 'Who wants to be a millionaire' I believe my lifeline
(i.e. this discussion) strongly believes it's the knives. I am apt to
suspect them, or at least want to check them, first. I don't have a
Last night I rummaged through every industrial and woodworking supplier
I could to look for dial indicator deals and realized there are quite a
few doo-dads and gizmos that claim to help set the knives. What is sad
is that there isn't a standard practice/device for the operation and
what's sadder is that the jointer I have has no locking mechanism on
the spindle. I don't know that other jointers have this feature since
every advice I've come across talk about finding center and working
from there. It's kind of nuts that manufacturers might build this
machine knowing full well owners may one day have to change the knives
and have to perform a Houdini trick to get the task done right. At
least, one would think, they could put a pin that you could slide to
lock the spindle.
Also, after looking through industrial catalogues (i.e. Enco, MSC) at
metal milling machines I find that accuracy is built into the lowliest
of machines where as manufacturers who build machines for wood allow
much higher tolerances. Yeah, we can sand out imperfections and
materials are less expensive but don't we deserve the same treatment?
Anyway, I will be buying a dial indicator but until that arrives I'll
see what I can do by hand using the methods suggested in this forum. I
have to say I've gotten more out of this forum about jointing than I
have in any woodworking book. In some sense it makes me appreciate the
Thanks guys and gals! Happy wooding and feel free to add to the
On the contrary, there is, and one example URL: was given you. It is the
same technique which almost any standard work on machinery and woodworking
will have, and it reads a carry versus a dial, so there's no lost time in
spite of merchants who sell dials. Only thing a dial will do is read in
thousandths rather than in go/no go. If knowing how far you're off is
important, by all means get a dial.
As to square, they make a number of tools by that name, you merely have to
use them. Once again, they are go/no go calibrated, which is certainly
If locking the spindle is important to you, though I cannot figure why,
lower the infeed table, clamp a stop on it and insert a piece of wood
between your stop and the leading edge of the knives. It's go/no go again,
but it will hold each knife in the same relative position. Some people hone
knives on the jointer, and use such a technique to ensure the same sharpness
angle or microbevel on each knife. I've not found it worthwhile.
When setting knife height with a dial indicator, it makes the job easier if
you can keep the head from rotating once the knife is at top dead center...
.. and that's one way to do it. Sort of. That prevents the head from rotating
forward, but it's still free to rotate backward.
Another is to clamp a block of wood to the fence; of course, that suffers from
the same deficiency.
A rare-earth magnet attached to the block might keep the head from rotating
backward, though....hmmmm..... think I'll give that a try next time I need to
adjust the jointer knives.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
This is what I do. I bridge a magnet between the cutterhead and the
infeed table. Holds the cutter head pretty still but it's not locked
down so tight that it can not be adjusted. Give it a try.
Doug Miller wrote:
If you don't have jackscrews or springs won't suffice, try cow magnets.
They're long enough to get a good reference to the outfeed. Principle
behind that other device sold for adjusting, the "magnaset."
Nice thing about adjusting by the "carry" or touch method is that it
promotes understanding of the operation of the machine itself, not the tool
used to set it. True of almost all the old methods of adjustment. You
don't have to learn a secondary device's tricks to get the primary going.
One thing I _won't_ rely on is the spider they send you with your Grizz
jointer. I've worked three, and the cutterhead isn't milled or set close
enough in its bearings to make it worthwhile. Even after you've reworked it
and get the fence and guard ends color coded, it seems you can only get
_two_ knives set properly, so you might as well pitch it. Yes, I know that a
feeler gage would solve the problem, but once again I'm screwing around with
the secondary device rather than the primary. The one on my old
Rockwell/Invicta planer is an instant good.
Yes there are! The existence of these products is a testament to the
failure and frustration that people have using traditional trial and
error methods. A few are good. Most reflect a very poor understanding
of machinery alignment and Metrology. You don't really need any of
The standard practice which reflects a good understanding of machinery
alignment and Metrology is contained in the link that I provided
earlier in this thread:
The standard device needed for this operation is the dial indicator.
You don't need to have a TS-Aligner Jr. to do this. You can perform
this technique with any dial indicator jig that can point the dial
indicator down. A standard magnetic base is fine or you can make your
own from wood. Unfortunately, there are a few nay sayers in the group
who would insist that you must do it the hard way (trial and error) and
make it sound like getting a dial indicator is a monumental mistake.
I agree, one would think that such a thing would be possible. After
all, top dead center will always be located in the same place for each
knife. I bridge a high strength magnet between the side of the
cutterhead and the side of the infeed table. This holds the knife in
place while doing the alignment but doesn't prevent fine adjustment.
You can also clamp a board between the motor and cutterhead pulleys.
I've done it this way but it wasn't very convenient.
Alas, as you have noticed, most woodworking machinery is built for the
lowest possible cost and the least acceptable accuracy. And, most
woodworkers (especially the trial and error crowd) never notice the
difference. They can't fool the machinists into buying such poor
machinery but they have many woodworkers eating out of their hands.
Once you learn how to use a dial indicator, you will be a much more
discerning buyer (eating from your own plate!).
It will definitely keep you busy.
Yes, it's a good place to come and discuss such things. You do have to
wade through the opinions and sift out wannabes and dogmatics.
You're welcome. Feel free to send me email if you have any questions.
No, he needs your product that reflects a poor understanding of machinery
alignment and metrology instead.
Hint--putting down the competition is a quick way to turn off a lot of
potential customers. Why should we believe your assertion that the other
guy's product is improperly designed instead of believing his assertion that
yours is? At least the other guy isn't coming in here and whoring his
product at every opportunity and putting down everybody who uses an
If that is "the standard practice" then please provide a reference to the
standard and to a description of the process by which it was established as
the standard. If you can't do that then it's not a "standard practice",
it's _your_ practice and since you are in the business of selling gadgets
whose nature is such that you would benefit by having it become "standard
practice" forgive me if I take your assertions that this is some kind of
standard with a large dose of salt.
It seems like it is one sensible way to go about things--if you had kept it
at that I would have little quarrel with you but you don't, you have to go
claiming that your wishful thinking is some kind of "standard".
As for "nay sayers" who insist that "you must do it the hard way (trial and
error)", what leads you to believe that doing this without a dial indicator
is "trial and error" or "the hard way"? You seem to want to claim that
anybody who does things differently from you is doing wrong, without
bothering to find out what methods they use and to evaluate those methods
first. That, in combination with the fact that you have a monetary interest
in having people do it _your_ way, makes you look like a the more obnoxious
kind of salesman, the one who makes the mistake of putting down his
potential customers when they don't instantly accept his claims about his
You might want to read some Zig Ziglar--he addresses the mistakes that you
are making here with your sales pitch. Or just hire a real marketing guy
and YOU keep off the net before you antagonize so many people that they
start resisting your product on general principle.
I have noticed no such thing. Would you care to back up that assertion or
are you just blowing more hot air? What are you going to do for your next
act, start selling a $1500 jigsaw on the basis that Bosch makes imprecise
And yet they produce quite nice work regardless. Perhaps the machinery is
in fact precise enough for their needs? And who would you classify as "the
trial and error crowd"? Have some names?
Who does this? And which machinists routinely buy machinery more precise
than is needed to do the work that puts food on their tables?
Personally I've been using dial indicators since some time in the late '60s.
It's a useful tool for many purposes, but it is not the only tool useful for
setting up machinery and to argue that the alternatives are a dial indicator
or "trial and error" is at best disengenuous and at worst a deliberate lie.
And quite frankly at this point you have shilled your overpriced crap enough
that I am prepared to think the worst of you.
His big problem seems to be that his machine has no provision for locking at
TDC. The dial indicator won't provide such a lock.
Well, now, the only "wannabee and dogmatic" I see here is you, with your
wannabee "standard" and your dogmatic insistence that the only alternative
to doing things _your_ way is "trial and error".
Oh, by the way, <plonk> you and your little ts-aligner too. Personally at
this point if you _gave_ me one I'd throw the pieces in the scrap bin to cut
up for robot parts.
Before getting your shorts all in a knot you should READ and understand what
he actually said.....he did not specifically hustle his own product, in fact
he said any dial indicator would suffice.....his provided link/ video
specifically said "The video features the use of my TS-Aligner Jr. product.
You can perform many of these alignments and adjustments by making your own
jig, a low cost dial indicator attached to a stick." .....how you can take
fault with that is quite beyond rational.....Rod
Mr. Clark. I read through your message very carefully and have
prepared a response which I doubt will please you. However, I would
wish that you read through it and consider it as carefully as I have
considered your words so that you (and other interested readers) might
gain a better understanding of what you have said.
J. Clarke wrote:
Well, that's just not a very good characterization of anything that has
happened in this thread. Nobody has suggested that the OP should buy a
TS-Aligner product. I even assured him that he could do the task
without one. I believe that your representation strays a bit from
I wasn't trying to "turn off" or "turn on" potential customers. I was
trying to help the OP solve his problem in the best possible way. And,
by commenting on the large array of devices being sold to solve this
particular problem, I'm hoping that others can be educated as well.
You don't have to believe anything I say. An intelligent person will
educate himself on the topic and make up his own mind about which
products are properly designed. Perhaps this didn't occur to you?
What you don't know about "the other guy" would make you ashamed of
ever having such a vile notion. Again, let me invite you to educate
yourself - it's always better to speak from actual knowledge and
experience. Go and investigate all the makers of the various alignment
tools. You certainly know very little about me and I suspect that you
know absolutely nothing about the others. Then report back to the
group on what you find. Specifically, enlighten us on the
capabilities, expertise, and competency of each maker. Tell us about
their manufacturing capabilities, quality control, attention to detail,
commitment to the customer, etc. Elaborate a bit by explaining exactly
what you think people would learn from "the other guys" if they were
active participants of this NG who were as open, honest, and blunt as I
Hmmmmm......you really do make it difficult for me to answer in a calm
and patient manner. Here goes...
The use of dial indicators to align and adjust machinery is so
universal and pervasive that you really tip your hand when you question
its validity. This isn't my practice or my method. I'm not trying to
push a new set of standard practices on the industry. My products are
simply fixtures for dial indicators. I have designed them so that
standard practices and methods for machinery alignment and adjustment
are easily applied to common woodworking machinery. People have been
using these practices and methods for more tha a century. When you
cast doubt on the universal acceptance of these practices and methods,
you reveal a glaring lack of knowledge on the subject.
It would be quite valuable for you to educate yourself on this topic.
Perhaps you might ride along with a machinery technician for a day or
two - a professional with formal training who maintains machinery for a
living. Or, maybe you could spend some time with the people who design
and build machinery. Go and visit a factory where machinery is not
only manufactured, but aligned and maintained. Or, how about visiting
a local machine shop and getting their perspective on machinery
alignment and adjustment. If you are really pressed for time maybe you
could just pick up a book on Metrology. Here's a good choice for you.
It's an easy read, written for an introductory course on the topic:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)63698278/ref=sr_1_1/002-2182051-9609664?ie=UTF8&s=books
And, if you can't read a book, then maybe you could look it up in some
magazines. I'm at somewhat of a loss to know exactly why this sort of
information, which literally saturates the industrial world, hasn't
managed to filter down to your particular corner of existence.
Even the hobbyist magazines and books address the topic on a regular
basis. The first article I saw was in FWW #24 (Sep/Oct 1980) entitled
"The Dial Indicator" by R. Bruce Hoadley. Included in the article were
instructions about jointer alignment. That was 26 years ago buddy! By
1991 I had been using dial indicators to align my machinery for several
years. I had already built a prototype of the first TS-Aligner. When
FWW #87 (March/April 1991) came out it gave me a real kick in the
pants. In it was an article entitled "Using Dial Indicators and
Calipers" by Robert Vaughan. With my butt finally in gear, TS-Aligner
appeared in an advertisement in FWW #90 (Sep/Oct 1991). It was the
first commercially made dial indicator jig for woodworkers but I was
not the first to apply these century old principles to woodworking
You flatter me no end! I wish I could take the credit but I didn't
come up with this stuff. These are universally accepted practices and
standards for Metrology, Engineering, and machinery alignment. I just
designed my products to take advantage of them. This is what seperates
my products from other devices on the market. Most of them are
designed by people who suffer from the same lack of knowledge and
experience that you seem to exhibit. They goof around in their home
woodworking shop for a few years and suddenly they think that they are
experts. So they grace the world with some goofy device which gets
molded in plastic and sold by woodworking dealers with a 10x markup.
My greatest frustration comes when people end up wasting their money on
these goofy things and get sorely disapointed by its lack of
performance. They incorrectly assume that all such devices are
Again, let me suggest that you educate yourself. Go get a dial
indicator and try it. Until you try it, you have absolutely no
authority on the topic. And, don't just set yourself up for failure by
doing everything wrong. Make every effort to understand what is
happening and why things need to be done in a certain manner. Take
time to learn something new and try to see the advantage that a little
knowledge can give you.
And, please re-read the thread and tell me why I characterized certain
respondants as "nay sayers". Did I start off by saying "don't use the
trial and error method"? Or was it someone else who, after reading my
message, suggested that a dial indicator wasn't needed?
I can very easily see how it might seem that way to you. Again,
re-read the thread and find each and every instance where I said that
an alternative method was wrong or that it wouldn't work. I think
you'll come up with exactly zero. Somehow you have turned this around
in your mind to make it look like I have attacked other methods. In
truth, I am defending the use of a dial indicator *AFTER* someone else
dismissed its use as unnecessary.
Please try to get a slightly larger perspective on the topic. I didn't
just make this stuff up. I didn't just discover dial indicators
yesterday. I've been "goofing" around with woodworking and woodworking
machines for more than 30 years. I've tried every single method that
has been suggested in this thread. I have all the gadgets (including
the goofy magnets). And, I didn't just try these once or twice and
then give up. There was a time when I did my best to put these devices
and methods to use in my shop. But, after years of uncertainty and
frustration I was determined to learn about better methods. I think it
was this determination that encouraged the machinist friend of mine to
teach me. If I had presented him with your attitude then I most
certainly would have been laughed out of his shop. Some people do not
have particular knowledge but are eager to learn. Others refuse
knowledge and shut their mind to new ideas. Your task is to choose
which category you wish to live in.
When I suggest that someone adopt an intelligent method by using an
accurate measurement instrument like the dial indicator, I'm not
promoting "my way" of doing things. I don't have any monetary interest
in telling someone to go out and get a low cost indicator and try it
for themselves. Stoutman didn't buy an Aligner but I defended his jig
from nay-sayers. The OP in this thread didn't buy an Aligner. Heck, I
told him that he didn't need to buy an Aligner. But I still defended
his decision to buy a dial indicator. Yes, I "DEFENDED" their use of
what is definitely a competitive alternative. Not exactly the most
fiscally expedient thing to do.
This isn't a sales pitch. This is evangelism. I'm trying my best to
enlighten individuals about intelligent ways of aligning and adjusting
their woodworking machinery. Eventually they might see the value of my
products and buy one. But, that's not my goal here in the NG. I just
want to save people from the ignorance which leads to "trial and error"
hell. Some will listen. Some will prefer ignorance, cover their
ears, and scream "la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-". Again, which are
I'll just have to ask you to educate yourself again. Go and visit a
machine shop. Compare the machines they have to what you know of
woodworking machinery. Look at the scales, crank the handles, turn the
knobs, listen to the motor, check out the massive castings, the finely
ground surfaces, etc.
I never said that trial and error doesn't work. I never said that a
person can't produce nice work if they use trial and error. I never
said that a person has to have the best possible tools in order to do
good work. You misunderstand completely.
Let me elaborate on what I said so that you can better understand it.
People who believe that a lot of goofing around (trial and error) is
neccessary in order to get good results will naturally find nothing
wrong with a crappy machine which requires a lot of goofing around.
Woodworking machinery manufacturers. Some to a greater degree, some to
a lesser degree.
Those that anticipate a future need might. You miss the point entirely
(and really stretch my patience). A machinist won't waste his money on
a machine that requires a whole bunch of stupid tips and tricks to get
good results. He buys a machine that helps him to make efficient use
of his time (i.e. avoid goofing around with stupid nonsense like test
Pardon me Mr. Clarke, but it doesn't show. Not even in the slightest.
And your behavior in this message, (distorting what was said, ranting
against me and my products) leads me to believe that you feel
personally threatened by the suggestion that a dial indicator is a good
solution for machinery alignment and adjustment. Until I see some more
intelligent discourse from you which reflects some actual knowledge on
the topic, I will continue to believe this.
I never said that it was. Again, you have turned this whole thing
around in your head.
Agreed. Who said that? I don't remember anybody saying this. Perhaps
you've overstated your case a bit.
And, quite frankly, it's difficult for me to remain patient with you.
The phrases running through my mind right now...suffice it to say that
this statement is about three to four hundred million light years over
the top, don't you think? Get a grip Mr. Clarke. This borders on
Hmmmm..... I think that his biggest problem is the proper alignment of
his jointer. He's been trying to use all the traditional methods but
they aren't working for him. He is uncertain and very frustrated. The
dial indicator will definitely help him.
Again, this is one of those things that you should probably be ashamed
of having said. It really reflects poorly on your intellect, making
you appear much more ignorant that I believe you are. I really don't
know anything about your experience or knowledge so I'm not going to
make any rash judgements about you. I would suggest that you know as
much about me and should refrain as well.
Well, I probably would never try to sell you one either. At least not
in your current state of mind. Right now you are just not my kind of
customer. I'm not interested in people who lose control like this when
they get threatened by something as simple as a dial indicator. You
really have gone off the deep end turning things around and
manufacturing all sorts of ideas and statements which nobody ever said.
My door is always open to you if you decide to calm down and be
reasonable (and educate yourself a bit).
I've had three ex-wives tell me I didn't know what I was talking about
so you guys can just get in line behind them.
I bridge two heavy duty magnets from the outfeed table on the theory
that they will contact the arc of the cutters at one, and only one,
point ... TDC ... the point of tangency. In reality, they make contact
over a short range of motion but, combined with eyeballing their
orientation, it's 'close enough for horseshoes'.
With the blades thus suspended, I adjust the outfeed table so that the
blade height matches the setting spider and then tighten the gibs to
lock them down. This particular adjustment takes roughly 5 minutes for
both jointer blades.
Now, if I could just stop trying to joint embedded gravel ....
BTW ... Wife #4 and I have our 6th anniversary in about 2 weeks. SHE
thinks I have a clue.
As I mentioned in the other thread, the Aligners can do bed rollers,
feed rollers, chip breakers, and cutterhead. These are all the things
that can be adjusted from below on a planer. Thre is a restriction.
The 1" travel indicators that I ship with the Aligners are about 5"
long (from one end of the plunger to the other). So, your planer needs
to allow at least 5" underneath the head. Or, since the Aligners use a
standard AGD group 2 loop back indicator, you can get one with smaller
travel just for use on a shorter planer.
The knives on a planer need to be adjusted in relation to the
cutterhead. It can be done from below and some of my competition
advocates doing so. However, it seems like torture to me. They really
need to be set from above. I don't have a jig to do that right now.
There are some other jigs on the market which do it (not the magnet
ones, ones with dial indicators).
On 19 Nov 2006 13:31:41 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Any good suggestions for those? I'll admit- that F#$%$ng planer takes
me a lot of time, and the results are less than stellar. The old
plastic guage with magnets just isn't working out for me. Half the
time, I end up using a hand plane instead, which sort of defeats the
purpose of having that expensive piece of equipment sitting in the
Sorry about the delay in getting back to you on this. Here's an
example of a home-made jig that works OK.
I've seen a few magazine articles showing similar jigs. The only
commercial jig that I could locate on the web is from a vendor which
I've had some really bad experience with. So, I'm not inclined to
recommend it to anybody.
You can go down the dial indicator track if you want to go that way. I just
find it a lot of unnessary effort. And by the way I have a shop full of dial
indicators and micrometers but I still do it the same way as the tradies
have done it for centuries.
A simple tool to do exactly the same job just as quick
a straight edge. be it a straight piece of timber. a small ruler of either
plastic or steel doesnt really matter. I can hear ppl shuddering now at the
thought of using a steel rule but if used correctly it will do no damage
whatsoever to the blades, if it does buy a set of better quality blades.
To find top dead centre of knife rotation
Place rule on rear table.
start to rotate knife by hand
as soon as it hits the straight edge (remember you are placing no pressure
on the straight edge it is just sitting there)... place a mark on the fence
keep rotating cutter until knife clears straight edge ..... place another
mark on fence
measure half way between these 2 points
align knife to middle mark ... and you are now on TDC
OK now to set blade height
bring each knife to TDC and adjust to straight edge. Knives are parrellel to
and level with outfeed table. It will take you longer to undo the nuts on
the cutter than it will to set the knives. You will 'feel' the knife on the
straight edge. If a little unsure rotate cutter by hand straight edge should
not move more than 1/32", you dont have to measure it you can see the
straight edge move and guess how much. If your hearing is better than your
eyesight all you have to do is listen to machine and it will tell you when
its right. You can hear the knife scraping the straightedge. Without knowing
the dia of cutter block to do exact calculations this will be within a thou
A variation to this that some ppl use is basically the same method as when
you are finding TDC. The straight edge should move the same distance on each
end of the knife and on each knife. Only downside to doing it this way is
that you will then have to adjust the outfeed table to match the knife
The first few times you set up a set of knives it could be a little fiddly
but once you get the feel of it it only takes a cpl of minutes to adjust a
set of knives. The hardest part is usually learning how much to move the
knife. I easiest way is to just nip up the 2 outside bolts on cutter just
enough so knife doesnt move. Set the knife a little high and tap back down
with a piece of wood to set correct height. Tighten bolts and recheck
In many ways it's the same thing. You've just substituted the dial
indicator for a more subjective measurement technique. Yes, it can be
pretty "fiddley" and does take some practice. The "carry" (as people
like to refer to it) will be affected by how sharp the knives are.
Dull knives will tend to rub or scrape more than they carry -
especially with a steel rule. I have used this method with varying
degrees of success - mostly because I'm just not any good at judging
"rubs" and "scrapes". It wasn't too difficult to adjust a knife so
that it was fairly equal all the way across. However, I have found it
to be very difficult to obtain consistent results from knife to knife
so that they all travel in the same circle. There's just a whole bunch
of going round and round the cutter head from knife to knife
continuously adjusting until you think that they are all even. And, of
course, it doesn't address the infeed table adjustment.
With the dial indicator, you adjust till the needle points to zero.
End of story. No guessing. Every knife is level and equal with every
other knife. And, the infeed table adjustment is just as easy. I keep
hearing people say that the dial indicator is so much trouble to use
(or "a lot of unnecessary effort"). I just don't understand why. In
virtually every possible way it seems a heck of a lot easier and a lot
less frustrating (to me).
Paul D wrote:
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