A wood jointer is a power tool that can greatly enhance appearance of the lumber or wood being used in a project, create durability, and helps in creating a flat surface on the lumber being used. There are various types of jointers; their uses will be similar, while they can offer specific dimensions to a variety of applications.

How do you know which jointer is right for you?

Choosing the “right” jointer can have significant advantages over choosing the most popular model, or one that is not adaptable to your shop. Most jointers are also used in conjunction with planers; in a sequence of applications, and making the right choice to meet the needs of the planer will also benefit the projected tasks. If you do not already have a planer, you can buy combination models that are both a planer and a jointer in one.

Powermatic 54hh JointerDewalt D26453K
4.9 rating

A jointer uses knives or blades to cut the surface of the wood, an in feed table, an out feed table and a fence.

The fence is the flat perpendicular surface used to align the wood with the feed tables, and, hold it in place, while moving the wood across the cutting blades or knives.

The table length and width of jointers vary and so do the choice of blades or knives.

The jointer sits on a stand or base that can be bolted to your shop floor for durability and safety; however, they can be designed as a wide base feature and need not be bolted.

Knowing the average measurements of the lumber you will be using for projects will help you to determine the length and width of jointer specification needs. Wider tables will offer a wider cutting base for wider pieces of wood. Longer table lengths and fence pieces will add more support to the wood as it is being processed. The length and width needs to be determined by the various applications and projects that will be performed.

Technical terms for types of jointers.

A term you will hear frequently when asking about planers or jointers is, “helical head blades vs. straight knives”. These are not to be confused, as they are used on various models of both the planer and the jointer.

Straight knives are exactly that; long, straight blades that run the width of a jointer table and cut the surface of the wood. A straight knife does require regular sharpening and only has one cutting edge. If the knife is gouged or chipped, it will leave uneven marks on the wood. Also, the straight knives can get hung up on curly grained woods which can cause “chunking” in the surface of the wood. They are best for applications using softer woods with straight grains.

The straight knives used in jointers can be assembled in an assortment of values from two to four, with three blades being the normal value across the board. The knives are made from hardened steel. The sharpness of the edge will depend on maintenance of the knife and how well it is sharpened. As you guide the wood over the knives, they shave the surface of the wood, creating long spiral wood shavings that can clog a dust collector; and also, collect on the knife. If shavings begin to collect heavily on the knife edge when processing a longer piece of lumber, you can have variations in the surface, and create gouges in your knife blade. This is often the downside of using a jointer with straight knives; although, an experienced craftsmen may know how to adjust accordingly. On the plus side, the straight knife variety is a lot easier on the wallet.

The helical head blades work in a spiraling capacity. The heads spin as the blades cut the wood. There are several blades in each head and range in values from 28, up to 140. The blades are carbide and are sharpened on either two to four of the edges of the blades. When a blade edge becomes damaged or dull, you do not need to sharpen it, you simply pull it out, turn it over to expose a new edge and re-install. This is simple, compared to using the straight knife. Not only do you have to sharpen the edge of a straight knife, but you also have to be careful as to how you re-install, making sure it is lined up perfectly. This option will also create a different surface on your wood, compared to the shaving pattern left by a straight knife. The helical head blade style jointers are quieter during use, and they are more expensive. Another feature of the helix blades; is that, they create smaller waste products that are easily removed with a dust collector.

Parallelogram is a term used to describe the parallel features of a tables’ in feed and out feed surfaces. This allows for more stability in keeping the wood surface in perfect parallel during processing. As you feed the lumber over the cutter knives, it allows you to make changes in the depth of the cut quickly. This is not a common feature in most jointers, and it is specific to various models.

Closed stand jointers are jointers that have a base that is completely enclosed. This protects the motor and components of the cutterhead from dust and debris, which can damage the components over time. Several jointers will come on a sturdy base that has varying features for stability, safety and vibration control. The bases will also vary in height and can host adjustable height options.

Other features of jointers to be considered before purchase.

Jointers are offered with a variety of motor and power options. There are models that are based for home use, single phase units, and do not require extra electrical features to be used. They can be operated using standard 120 volt or 220 volt electrical outlets. Industrial models will require a 440 volt outlet, a dual phase feature, and is not necessary for most home operations.

Motor performance will also vary by horsepower ratings. You can research the various types of models, and the necessary horsepower rating that best fits the desired use of the jointer. While researching the power needs for your jointer, you can also find what models are best dressed with accessories. Some accessories may be necessary for desired projects, enhance performance, offered as safety features, or may simply be cosmetic.