Table of Contents
What is a jointer?
A jointer is a machine that creates flat faces and adjoining edges on wooden boards so that they are perfectly square to one another. This makes ‘joining’ two pieces of wood together easier as the faces and edges are straight and perpendicular to one another.
When you’re crafting items from wood, you’re going to need to use a huge variety of tools. One of those that you will regularly see in the workshops of woodworking professionals and hobbyists alike is the jointer. But what is a jointer and what is it used for?
A woodworking jointer is a tool that is used to make the face of a board and one adjacent edge flat. You are able to prepare boards so that they can be more evenly joined together. While the jointer isn’t a tool that you’d include in your beginners kit, it’s certainly one that a lot of woodworkers will go on to buy down the line.
When you start out woodworking, you might purchase your wood at a DIY or home improvement store and in this case, the lumber will have been squared up for you. However, if you purchase wood from a lumber yard then this is a job you will need to do yourself and that’s where a jointer becomes invaluable.
How Does A Jointer Work?
A jointer features rotating blades that are set between a table on both the right and left sides. These tables are called the infeed and outfeed tables and are incredibly smooth to allow the stock to move nicely across them. However, it is important to note that you will sometimes need to treat the tables with wax to improve their smoothness
When the machine is turned on, the blades begin to rotate and the user can then slowly guide their wood over the blades. As they do this, the blades trim off the edge of the material providing it with a much more even surface. If you’ve got very badly warped or uneven wood then it may require several passes to get it perfect.
Most jointers will have an adjustment knob that allows you to alter how much stock is removed on each pass. This knob will usually work by raising the outfeed table to the desired level to remove more wood while lowering the table lessens the amount taken off during each pass.
What Is The Difference Between A Planer And A Jointer?
When you look at a planer and a jointer, you’ll notice that they both do very similar things. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not the same tools and when setting up an advanced workshop, you’ll likely benefit from investing in both.
As you continue to develop your skills, tools like the planer and jointer become a necessity, especially when you buy wood in a much more rough form. When you are working with wood that is cupped, warped or twisted, you’ll use a jointer followed by a planer to give the stock a neat, even finish that is perfect for use in a whole host of projects.
Your jointer will be used to make your board completely flat. It will remove twists and warps so it’s important to use this tool first. However, a planer, on the other hand, is designed to make the board more parallel and give a consistent thickness on all sides.
Do I Need A Jointer For Woodworking?
When you first start woodworking, it’s likely that you’ll be buying your wood from somewhere that has prepared it for you. While it is possible to source rough wood and use a jointer, we’d suggest honing your other skills before worrying about this. You can buy wood in S3S or S4S which have been surfaced on three or four sides respectively and this is far easier for a beginner.
But, when the time comes and you feel more confident in working with rough sawn wood then you will need to think about purchasing a jointer. If you’re woodworking as a career then you should see this as a business investment as it won’t take long to make back the money you paid for the tool.
Now, in theory, you could prep your wood using hand tools alone but this will be far more time consuming and, unless you are very highly skilled, won’t give such even results.
How Do You Use A Jointer
Using a jointer for the first time may feel a little intimidating but once you master the basics, it’s not a difficult tool to use and will help to ensure your boards are perfectly flat. Below you’ll find a step by step instruction guide on how to use a jointer and you can find a handy video guide below:
- Begin by checking the settings of the jointer. Start by ensuring that it is at the right height and make any necessary adjustments according to how aggressive you want the cut to be.
- Next, check that the back fence is at 90º by using a square. This fence can be angled to make bevel cuts so unlock it and adjust it as needed.
- Finally, adjust the width of the jointer to suit the width of the stock you are trimming.
- Lay the face of the wood you wish to trim down flat on the jointer.
- In this demonstration, we will be cutting wood that is twisted so you’ll notice that there is a degree of instability at the high points. Mark these off so you can see where they are.
- You’ll use a push pad at the front end of the board and a push stick at the rear; this allows you to more safely move the wood across the blades.
- When you are ready, power up the machine and guide the wood across. You’ll need to put heavier pressure on the high points and regular pressure everywhere else.
- You can now take your board to the planer to even off the other side before returning to the jointer to square off the edge.
- When you’re done, be sure to check the board using a square to make sure it’s perfectly even.
How Do You Join Two Pieces Of Wood Without A Jointer?
If you don’t have a jointer but still need to make your rough wood even then it is possible to do this using other tools you may have in your workshop. Check out the video below, for more information.
- Start by creating a sled that you can use to feed your wood through your planer. You’ll need a ¾ inch board with a lip at the end to secure the wood. It’s also a good idea to stick some sandpaper to the surface of the sled to give it a better grip.
- Place your wood onto the sled and use some thin shims underneath to ensure that there are no uneven areas. Trim this shims so that nothing hangs out from the edge of the board.
- Now you can feed the wood through your planer. You may need to do this several times to get your desired result.
- You can now adapt your sled by popping in some grooves that allow you to insert clamps.
- Line the wood you wish to cut up to the edge of the board and slide the clamps into position on the other side.
Bring up the blade of your table saw and run the wood along this to smooth out the edge of the board and ensure it is square.
Jointer Safety Tips
Like many woodworking tools, a jointer can be dangerous when not used properly. For this reason, you should always follow these important safety tips.
- Always wear safety goggles or a face shield when operating a jointer.
- Since jointers can be loud, ear protection is highly recommended, especially when using the machine for long periods of time.
- Keep the feet protected with suitable footwear.
- Only those who are correctly trained and capable should use a jointer.
- Make sure that the jointer blades are sharp and well maintained.
- Operation buttons such as stop/start should be within easy reach of the user.
- Ensure that all guards and fences are in position before starting up the machine.
- Do not have any loose tools on the in or out table.
- Always use push pads and sticks to feed wood across the blade.
- Ensure consistent and strong pressure on the board as you feed it through.
A jointer is an advanced woodworking tool that many people will get a lot of use out of if they purchase rough wood. These machines allow you to create a flat surface and a square edge on boards so that they can be easily joined together. When used in conjunction with a planer, you’ll get smooth, perfect results every time.
If you are looking to purchase a jointer, then look no further than our buyer’s guide – Best Jointer For Woodworking