Photos by Rob Brown; Illustration by Len Churchill
Stationary models have an open stand or closed base. Jointers are further defined by their cutterhead width, which determines how wide a surface they can cut. This ranges from 4″ up to about 16″, with 6″ and 8″ being the most popular. The most common type of cutterhead consists of three or four straight blades. Increasingly popular are spiral cutterheads that consist of a series of small carbide inserts. DIYers, craft makers, box makers, or anyone who works on small projects can get along nicely on a benchtop or small open stand jointer. If making cabinetry or furniture, choose the largest jointer you can afford with a segmented cutterhead. Choose wisely, as your jointer is likely to be a once-in-a lifetime purchase.
Price: $400 – $10,000
Format: Benchtop, Stationary
Cutting Widths: 4″ – 16″
Bed Length: 45″ – 83″ (30″ for benchtop)
Cutter Style: 3 to 4 straight blades; up to 60 inserts (12 for benchtop)
Motor: 1 to 5 HP
For stock that is severely bowed it’s quicker and more efficient to mark a straight line along the bowed edge, cut to the line on a band saw, and then joint the edge.
Exercise caution when jointing severely twisted stock (diagonal corners bending in opposite directions). You can reduce the twisting somewhat by hand planing or belt sanding the high corners. If the stock is long you may be able to cut it into shorter sections before jointing.
To reduce tearout, orient your stock so the grain slopestowards the infeed table, the same direction the cutterhead knives turn.
Apply light to moderate downward pressure while jointing, especially for bowed stock. Otherwise you risk pressing the bow out of the board by hand, only to have it spring back when hand pressure is released.
While you can take heavy (1/8″ or so) cuts to remove stock quickly, for a smoother surface always use shallow 1/32″ cuts to finish up.