Why Would You Need a Benchtop Jointer?

A jointer is a type of woodworking machine that produces a flat surface along the length of the board. If you’re an avid woodworker, you need a benchtop jointer in your workshop to make your projects more professional looking.

What Does a Jointer Do?

A jointer is used along the narrow edges of boards to prepare them for gluing into boards or to be used as butt joints.

Basically, these machines create flat edges before joining the boards edge-to-edge to make wider boards.

The Design of a Jointer

Most jointers have a two-level table arrangement, with two narrow tables parallel to one another in a single row. A cutter head is recessed between the two tables.

The cutter head is powered by an induction motor, and a movable fence sits perpendicular to both tables. The cutter head has at least two knives with very sharp edges.

The tables on a jointer are called infeed and outfeed. The cutting blade is adjusted to accommodate the pitch and height of the outfeed table.

There are many types of cutter heads, but Fine Woodworking says segmented cutter heads are a great option for woodworkers.

When it’s time to use the jointer, the wood is placed on the infeed table, passed over the cutter head and then fed over to the outfeed table. The cutter head spins perpendicular to the feed direction and parallel to the tables. When cutting, the knives hit the board in the opposite direction the wood is being fed.

The height of the jointer’s infeed and outfeed tables can be adjusted independently, but the outfeed table is typically set to the same level as the knives. The infeed is the table that is adjusted to a lower height to create the appropriate cut depth.

Most home jointers can make cuts that are 4-6″ wide. Large industrial machines can make cuts as wide as 16,” while benchtop models will make even narrower cuts.

A piece of wood

How to Use a Jointer

When using a jointer, a piece of wood is placed with its face against the fence and the jointed edge resting against the infeed table.

The board is then moved across the cutter head and onto the jointer’s outfeed table. The cutter head removes a specific amount of wood as the board passes over, which creates a flat edge.

Learning how to use a jointer properly is essential because this machine has a variety of uses.

Flattening Board Surfaces

If the jointer is going to be used to flatten the face of the board, the fence is not used. Instead, the goal is to produce a flat surface. Typically, this process is done before the jointing so that there’s a flat edge ready for use.

Flattening Bowed Wood

Bowed wood can also be straightened using a jointer. In this case, the guard is moved out of the way and the timber is slowly lowered onto the table with the concave side facing down. A few cuts are made on each end of the board to produce a flat surface.

Once the wood is almost flat, the guard is put back in place and the final cut is made as usual.

Fixing Twisted Wood

Twisted wood can also be treated using a jointer. The wood is placed on the bed of the machine and moved slowly from side to side just to get an idea of how twisted the material is.

Once the user has an idea of the size of the twist, the same size cuts can be made on each end to remove the twist.

It takes an experienced woodworker to remove a twist from a piece of lumber. Watch below:


Making Rabbets

Jointers are also used to make rabbets, also known as rebates in some parts of the world, (according to Wikipedia), in finished timber. In this case, the infeed table is set to the appropriate depth and the fence is set to the rabbet’s width.

Rabbeting can be hard on a jointer, which is why the outside blades are typically sharpened after this task is completed.

Why Would You Want a Jointer?

A jointer is an important tool in any woodworker’s shop, and is used for a variety of tasks (many of which are listed above).

Without a jointer, you’ll be forced to perform many of these tasks by hand, which can be long and tedious. In some cases, the task is impossible to do by hand.

While you can buy a full-size jointer, these models are usually very big and very expensive. A benchtop jointer is a nice compromise because it attaches to a bench and does not take up quite as much space. While this type is more limiting in the type of tasks it can complete, it is still more than adequate for most woodworking projects.

There are many benchtop jointers on the market today, and many of them are affordable enough for even the most budget-conscious woodworker. If you’re serious about your craft and enhancing the quality of your woodworking, you’ll consider buying a jointer and adding it to your home workshop.