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Jointer question/recommendation


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I mill my own wood, and am contemplating buying a jointer.  The blocks I start with don't always have a flat side, which can make slicing into billets challenging.  I don't want to get a big free standing jointer - they look like they weight 250+ pounds, and setting one up myself and moving it around the shop would be a pain.  They are also really expensive.  I'm trying to sort out if one of the benchtop ones would meet my needs.  I work in 24-30" lengths, so I don't need big in- and out- feeds.  I also don't think I would be working with anything wider than 6", so one of the 6" bench top ones would meet my needs in terms of capacity.  I would be mostly milling hard woods like pear and boxwood.  Does anyone know if these smaller machines are powerful enough to do this?  If they would be adequate, any recommendations as to which one?  It looks like all the major tool makers (Grizzly, Delta, Jet, Porter-Cable, etc) make one.  Any better than the others, or have specific features that would help for my really limited purposes?  I don't see my self building furniture or needing to work with big boards on the machine.

 

thanks!!

 

Dave

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I have a Delta Rockwell  4” Jointer that I bought new in the late 1970’s.  It is a great tool.  It is solidly built, all cast iron.  Over the years, I have used it to mill parts for restoring four wooden canoes, and for reducing rough sawn lumber to billets for ship model building.  I have also used it for building ship model glass cases.  I do not build furniture or cabinetry.  I have never needed anything larger.

 

if you can find one of these used that can be cleaned up you will have a real workhorse.  In my opinion, “vintage” power tools are much better tan most new ones as they don’t contain plastic parts.

 

i will be down in my workshop later today and I’ll send you a photo.

 

Roger

Edited by Roger Pellett
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Hi davec - I used to have the same problem as you but I solved it using my own table saw.  As I understand it all you need is a true clean edge that you can work from?  Or at least that was my issue.

 

I solved this by fixing my 1 metre strips of wood to an aluminium 1m straight edge on the side of the fence.  I then run the wood through the saw making sure that the straight edge runs against the fence.  The aluminium is obviously no where near the blade and gives me a true edge on my timber.  One cut is all it takes and everything else follows.  Saved me from buying a jointer

 

Mark

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I once had an 8" industrial Delta, and more recently a 6" Rikon. I spent many happy hours adjusting them, and they were great for larger furniture projects. But I was always a little shocked watching so much very expensive boxwood coming off in order to flatten the entire 3' long board. I realized that I was trying to flatten something that was going to be cut down in length anyway, and did not need to be flattened for the full length, wasting a lot of valuable wood. Now, I slice wood to thickness plus a little spare with a bandsaw, and then run the smaller pieces through a Byrnes thickness sander. For straight and square edges, I use a good sharp plane with a shooting board. Much safer than pushing small parts over a jointer. I now never use my jointer for the ship project, only furniture projects.

 

But whatever works!

 

Mark

 

 

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5 hours ago, Roger Pellett said:

In my opinion, “vintage” power tools are much better tan most new ones as they don’t contain plastic parts.

Yep. You can't beat "old 'arn." I have a four inch 1950 vintage Craftsman, made by King-Seely, I believe. It works great for shorter stock. A 6" jointer would handle larger stock better, but I don't use it for much more than three or four foot long stock. A 6" jointer is a relatively large machine.

 

I rarely joint raw wood down to square finished on all sides. I just joint it until I have a flat wide enough to then cut pieces off on the band or table saw. Putting a round piece of wood through a table saw gives me the heeby-jeebies. One little wobble and it's likely to be coming back at you.

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Thanks everyone for their great thoughts.  Still thinking about the jointer and hoping to get some thoughts about whether a 6" benchtop machine would meet my needs, and if so, which one to get.

 

Bob and Roger - will keep an eye out for an older machine, but shopping during the pandemic is limiting, and a new machine would be a lot easier to get.  They don't seem to sell 4" any more - 6" seems to be the standard.  I'm assuming that if a 4" would work, then a 6" would as well.  Any issues with boxwood or pear on these machines?  Is the motor powerful enough for really hard wood?

 

I agree with Marks' concerns about wasting wood, but think a single side done with a jointer may decrease waste compared to what I am currently doing.  Agree with Bob that pushing pieces that are even a little bit wobbly through a band or table saw is something to be avoided.  I need both hands and all fingers for work.  Without a flat reference side,  I often end up with billets a little thicker than they need to be going through the thickness sander, then still have to get a square edge on the piece once sanded to thickness.  I don't need furniture smooth on the edge, just enough to have a flat surface against the band or table saw fence.  I appreciate Mark's concerns about the amount of waste in jointing at 36" surface, but I'm thinking that if I work in my more usual 20-24", there shouldn't be as much lost. There is always a lot of waste in milling, and I'm hoping jointing one side will be safer and a little less wasteful than what I'm doing now.

 

The sled is neat, and would work great if I was working with planks.  I'm milling 3-5" wide pieces of 10/4 and 12/4 raw material, and don't see it working very well for pieces this shape.  Also not sure I can get the blade high enough on the table saw if the pieces is sitting up on top of a sled, and really don't like ripping where I would need to work close to a blade that high on the table saw.  Using an aluminum bar also makes me a little nervous.  Seems like it would need to be screwed to the bottom of the piece, and this would result in losing some of the potential strips/billets from the screw holes.  Also would require working between the blade and fence, which I don't like to do while ripping, especially with the blade elevated high.

 

Regarding the hand plane, agree that there is always more than one way to do things.  Would like to continue to explore the jointer unless there is good reason to think it would not work with a bench top machine.  While I would be getting it for a single intended task, somehow I always find other uses for new tools in the workshop.

 

Again, many thanks for all the great responses.

 

Dave

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There are a number of old Delta 4in jointers listed on EBay.  New blades and bearings are also available.  One major advantage of old power tools is that they are belt driven from a separate motor.  Some of the new small DIY jointers have integral motors.  If the motor on one of the older machines dies or if the machine is underpowered, the motor can be easily replaced.

Roger

Edited by Roger Pellett
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  • 1 month later...
On 4/18/2020 at 1:25 PM, davec said:

I mill my own wood, and am contemplating buying a jointer.  The blocks I start with don't always have a flat side, which can make slicing into billets challenging.  I don't want to get a big free standing jointer - they look like they weight 250+ pounds, and setting one up myself and moving it around the shop would be a pain.  They are also really expensive.  I'm trying to sort out if one of the benchtop ones would meet my needs.  I work in 24-30" lengths, so I don't need big in- and out- feeds.  I also don't think I would be working with anything wider than 6", so one of the 6" bench top ones would meet my needs in terms of capacity.  I would be mostly milling hard woods like pear and boxwood.  Does anyone know if these smaller machines are powerful enough to do this?  If they would be adequate, any recommendations as to which one?  It looks like all the major tool makers (Grizzly, Delta, Jet, Porter-Cable, etc) make one.  Any better than the others, or have specific features that would help for my really limited purposes?  I don't see my self building furniture or needing to work with big boards on the machine.

 

thanks!!

 

Dave

I had a Craftsman 6" jointer for years.  It had the power to handle whatever I threw at is as long as I adjusted the depth of cut accordingly.  But after a while it became harder and harder to keep the table halves coplanar. 

 

I ended up giving the jointer away and bought a Lie-Nielsen #62 low angle jack plane.  It changed my attitude toward woodworking.  It made it much more enjoyable.  While it takes longer, I get more satisfaction from the end result.  (I also ended up buying more L-N planes, so you have to be careful going this route.  It's addictive!)

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I don't know why I didn't remember the Safe-T planer - a drill press accessory.   An important tip about using this tool is to set the table so that it is perpendicular to the quill of the drill press (and so parallel to the disc).  To do this, bend a coathanger into Z shape and mount it in the chuck.   Then turn the chuck by hand and adjust the table so that the other end of the Z just scrapes the table as it rotates.

 

It may be possible to find this at a better price.

 

https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-tools-and-supplies/types-of-tools/planes/stewmac-safe-t-planer.html
 

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