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View Full Version : 6"/8" Jointer recommendations?



Bill R
12-05-2011, 12:55 PM
Yeah, I know bigger is better.

The time has come to finally replace the 1950's 6" jointer, for no other reason than the infeed/outfeed tables are just too short. I have my eyes/ears open for good old iron locally, but failing that, what new? I fall in a gray area between active hobbyist and full time professional, so it gets used extensively. Price is important, but not the deciding factor. Also, 6" or 8"? Is an 8" worth the added expense and footprint?

Any input is appreciated.

Thanks

David G
12-05-2011, 01:20 PM
What sort of work do you do that wants a jointer: typically; occasionally; rarely?

Bill R
12-05-2011, 02:20 PM
I do a little bit of everything- If my employer needs something, they come to me. On the side, I'll make anything someone asks. Primarily, what comes out of my shop is specialty cabinetry for broadcast studios and smaller furniture pieces. (I ain't Mr. Ledger) I have found that over the last year especially, every project has called for a jointer, so my current unit has gotten plenty of use. 2012 looks to be shaping up the same way, so it justifies the investment in improved machinery.

David G
12-05-2011, 02:32 PM
The primary advantage of a wider jointer is that it increases the width of the sticks that you can face-flatten in order to have a stable starting place for planing. This reduces the instaces of needing to glue up thicknessed boards, then re-flatten.

This comes into play when one is making things with wide solid panels. Dining table tops, for instance. Panels for raised panels doors or wainscotting. Bench tops. For most cabinetry, though... a 6" will suffice. Because of the work I tend to do at times... 8" is minimum for me. 12" is better, and I wouldn't turn down an 18-20" if I could find the right deal at the right time. As large as 12" can be put on casters and tucked out of the way in a smaller shop.

James McMullen
12-05-2011, 04:52 PM
I worked for Grizzly Industrial for several years and got to know the tool manufacturing business from the inside a little bit. You know what, with modern CNC machining and surface grinding all of the newer jointers are decent enough, and many of the brands have their components built in the same few factories in Taiwan and China and are merely assembled and painted different colors by the brands. I would buy whichever Delta, Powermatic, Jet, ShopFox or Grizzly jointer was on sale, honestly. Spiral cutterheads are great if you work with figured hardwoods a ton, but really not worth the extra expense for softwoods and air-dried boat lumber.

Tom M.
12-05-2011, 05:13 PM
Buy a used one on craigslist, no question about it. Import or domestic, no matter. Bring a good straightedge and square to check things. Last jointer I bought was a nice old Delta 8 inch for 400 bucks. Sold it for 800 a couple years later.

Why do I sell my good tools???

I believe the 8 inch is worth it. Its useful for taking out twist, etc. In fact, I think the ideal setup for a small shop is a 12 inch combo planer/jointer of the European pattern...like a Robland, Minimax, etc. If you can find one of those used, and its within your budget (not an easy task), it'll do everything for you, as long as the tables are long enough for what you do.

David G
12-05-2011, 07:13 PM
I worked for Grizzly Industrial for several years and got to know the tool manufacturing business from the inside a little bit. You know what, with modern CNC machining and surface grinding all of the newer jointers are decent enough, and many of the brands have their components built in the same few factories in Taiwan and China and are merely assembled and painted different colors by the brands. I would buy whichever Delta, Powermatic, Jet, ShopFox or Grizzly jointer was on sale, honestly. Spiral cutterheads are great if you work with figured hardwoods a ton, but really not worth the extra expense for softwoods and air-dried boat lumber.


This is substantially true... but not precisely true.

Where it falls down is that different importers/brands invest differing amounts in Quality Control. When you're buying parts from someone who's making, say... castings, for a variety of people, and cost is a large consideration... there are always a range of qualities produced. It's the large outfits that keep their own salaried staff on site that filter out the iffy bits (which then are delivered to the less fastidious importers). That's an added cost... but well worth it if you're trying to build or maintain a reputation of quality for your brand. Delta, Powermatic, and the like know this. Grizzly, I get the impression, eventually figured it out.

Bob Cleek
12-05-2011, 09:33 PM
Get the 8" and put it on casters. You'll be glad you did the first time you run into a 7" plank. If you work hardwood for furniture making from rough sawn stock, you'll be running into that 7"er before you know it.

Dutch
12-05-2011, 09:53 PM
the most important thing with a jointer is that the tables are precisely parrallel with one another

checking that is almost impossible to do with anything other than the old reliable string method and that take time and patience to do and to correct if something is out of wack

Id opt out of buying any of the jointers mentioned so far unless you dont need precision in your projects or you have a lot of time to waste fiddling with the machine and with your stock later trying to get it to fit tight

James McMullen
12-05-2011, 10:06 PM
Good grief, Dutch, do you actually know anything about tools any more than you do about politics? I think your advice here is absurd. Clearly you don't know what the machining tolerances are for modern jointers like this. These days even a cheap one will be within about four or five thousandths over 60".

". . .unless you don't need precision in your projects. . ."?

Gimme a break! BTW, when was the last time you posted pics of one of your precision projects here? Hmmmm?

Dutch
12-05-2011, 10:11 PM
thanks for bringing the bilge up here james! I suppose your worldy experience in cheap chinese iron makes you an expert!

David G
12-05-2011, 10:18 PM
thanks for bringing the bilge up here james! I suppose your worldy experience in cheap chinese iron makes you an expert!

Dutch,

The various elements of your advice range from muddy, to beside the point, to bad. And yet it was offered in a manner that could lead the ignorant to believe that you knew your stuff. If you don't want to be chastised for offering bad advice... your future path seems clear to me.

Dutch
12-05-2011, 10:21 PM
tell me david- how to you true the tables on your jointer?

James McMullen
12-05-2011, 10:24 PM
I don't claim to be an expert here, but at least I actually know what the hell I'm talking about. Admittedly, that can be a distinct liability down in the Bilge, so I can see how one who seldom ventures out might get confused.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
12-05-2011, 10:27 PM
I have a Taiwanese 8 inch jointer, with a spiral carbide cutterhead and a 76 inch table. I use a Starrett machinists level and a precision straightedge to check machines, and when I checked this one, it was extremely accurately in terms of twist and so on. I bought it used on Kijiji for 800 dollars, and the current retail price is twice that. I'm happy with it, despite the fact that I think that older american iron is even better.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
12-05-2011, 10:30 PM
tell me david- how to you true the tables on your jointer?

Sorry Dutch, you have no credibility here. None, zero, nada.

Dutch
12-05-2011, 10:34 PM
strings are the most accurate way to check your tables unless someone has come up with some sort of laser device

cheap junk is difficult to get tuned up and keep tuned up because of what it is- if youre satisfied with it - then help yourself - there are a lot of folks that feel just as you do james :)

Peter Malcolm Jardine
12-05-2011, 10:45 PM
Nope, sorry, move along, nothing to see here, be on your way..:D

James McMullen
12-05-2011, 10:52 PM
Somebody doesn't know what he's talking about here. I suspect that's because he hasn't actually owned or used a jointer in many years. Certainly not a new one.

David G
12-05-2011, 11:00 PM
Somebody doesn't know what he's talking about here. I suspect that's because he hasn't actually owned or used a jointer in many years. Certainly not a new one.

And then he compounds it by persisting.

Dutch
12-06-2011, 07:46 AM
And then he compounds it by persisting.

james has been known to do that :)

David G
12-06-2011, 12:01 PM
james has been known to do that :)

If we were to be honest... we've probably all been guilty of beating a dead horse. All except me, of course <G>

There's a common, pretty standard, method for setting up a jointer. One uses a straightedge, shims the gibways of the outfeed table to bring it parallel to the infeed table, and sets the outfeed table height so it's equal to TDC of the knives arc. I suppose one could cobble together some system using string (though you'd have to detail the process for me, as I'm highly skeptical)... but that's not normally how it's done, and I see no reason to reinvent the wheel. What we're all bridling at is your attempts to offer advice... when you're not knowledgeable enough to do so. Steering people wrong does them no service, and your already threadbare reputation no good at all.

Jim Ledger
12-06-2011, 12:23 PM
What a couple of hall monitors.:D

Check Craigslist and go for the eight inch. Check the tables with a four foot straightedge and feeler gauge. Buy a new set of knives right off the bat.

JJDawJr
12-06-2011, 12:43 PM
This started out as a useful inquiry. I'm also interested in getting a jointer, and don't know all there is to know about the subject. Can we confine the commentary to the merits of the machines, and leave the insults elsewhere?

Jim Ledger
12-06-2011, 01:05 PM
Would you like to know a method for setting knives accurately using no measuring tools except a stick?

SMARTINSEN
12-06-2011, 01:35 PM
^Sure.

I would second the advice of getting the 8". Not cheap, but like Cleek says...

Most of the new stuff these days comes with built in mobile bases.

Bill R
12-06-2011, 02:11 PM
Would you like to know a method for setting knives accurately using no measuring tools except a stick?

Please Mr Ledger.

Eric D
12-06-2011, 02:36 PM
I too would be interested Jim in hearing your method.

I would also say that 8" is the only size I would change to at this point, if I could have a larger one sure...but I don't have the room. That said, I often have that 6- or 7" board that needs to be face jointed and taking twist out of it a bit...my 6" just doesn't do it for me anymore.

I agree also on the 4' straightedge is plenty accurate to start with feeler gauges. Of cours PMJ methods of fancy (read jealous ) Starrett gauges is even better....

Jim Ledger
12-06-2011, 02:58 PM
OK, here goes...

I used to have an eight inch Delta jointer. The knives had two small springs underneath that pushed them up, which helped when setting.

You need a small stick, about half inch square and a foot long is good, although the actual dimensions are not critical. It is important that the stick is straight and smooth.

Before removing the old knives, lower the outfeed table slightly. I'll explain just how much to lower it shortly.

Using a drywall knife, make a little mark on the stick about two inches from the end.

Lay the stick on the outfeed table with the mark lined up with the edge and the short end of the stick over the cutterhead.

Rotating the cutterhead will bring a knife up. The knife will pick up the stick, move it towards the infeed table and then drop it down. Make another mark on the stick at the edge of the outfeed table. Keeping a very slight pressure on the stick with your finger will give a good result.

You now have two marks on the stick about an inch apart.

Remove the old knives. Put the new ones in, adjusting them so they move the stick in exactly the same fashion as before. They will all be the same height.

Readjust the outfeed to the height of the top of the cutter arc.

Now, important point. Naturally, the more you lower the outfeed the further apart your marks will be and the more accurate the height measurement. However, ther comes a point there the bevel on the knife interferes with the stick. Should this happen, you've gone too far and should raise the outfeedup enough to prevent interference.

Clear as mud? Good.









Now, before we go, this is why you don't want the six inch model...:d










http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m193/searover1916/Sapeletabletop1.jpg

Nicholas Carey
12-06-2011, 03:44 PM
strings are the most accurate way to check your tables unless someone has come up with some sort of laser device

One should pretty much be able to assume that the infeed/outfeed tables on any decent jointer are each individually flat. Presumably they were installed on the ways and ground flat as a pair by the manufacturer. Not much reason they should be able to "unflatten" themselves. If your tables aren't flat [enough], natch, you'll be paying a visit to your local machine shop.

That leaves adjusting the tables so as to be coplanar, a task, which any doofus (including Yours Truly) ought to be able to do to within a few thousandths of an inch across the length of the tables. All you need to do that in the usual way is:

A set of ordinary automotive feeler gauges. You've probably got a set in your toolbox. If you don't a visit to any decent hardware store or tool emporium will set you up for less than $10 (http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00940802000P?prdNo=2&blockNo=2&blockType=G2).
Some shim stock. In case your jointer is seriously out of whack. Sometimes hard to find in small quanties, but a good hardware store or Grainger or somebody similar will almost certainly have it. Here's an online source (http://www.midwayusa.com/product/832285/baker-brass-shim-stock-assortment-6-x-12-package-of-12) for a lifetime supply in brass. Might want steel (http://www.midwayusa.com/product/539367/baker-steel-shim-stock-assortment-6-x-12-package-of-12), though.

The OWWM guys recommend buying a set (or two) of disposable feeler gauges to use as shim stock, in the case you need to shim the tables. Use the feeler gauge leaves as sh ims. Once you determine the correct amount of shimmage, just break the shim off in the ways.
Appropriate Hex wrenches. Or whatever your jointer uses for gib screw adjustment.
And one tool you probably don't own.

A machinist's straightedge. Depending on the length of your jointer's tables, 36-inch or longer, but a bare minimum of 24 inches. Starret (http://www.starrett.com), natch, is best, but their 36-inch model (http://www.starrett.com/metrology/product-detail?k=380-36), true to within +/- 0.0002 inches per foot of lenghth (parallellism is +/- 0.0004 inches/foot) will set you back c. $170 or so. At 36-inches or longer, it has its own storage requirements: to maintain its calibration, it must be suspended horizontally from its two markedsuspension points.

Their are cheaper alternatives: Lee Valley/Veritas makes servicable straight edges for significantly less, in both aluminium (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=50074&cat=1,240,45313) and steel (http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=56676&cat=1,240,45313,56676). The Veritas aluminum models are an order of magnitude less precise than the Starret (+/- 0.003 ins per foot) whilst the Veritas steel models are a half an order of magnitude less precies (+/0 0.0015 ins/foot).

An alternative would be to fabricate a machinist's test bar, as per John White's piece (http://www.finewoodworking.com/ToolGuide/ToolGuidePDF.aspx?id=2643) in Fine Woodworking some time back. Three pieces of MDF, a handful (9, actually) screws, a screwdriver and some fiddling and you should have a test bar dialed in to a few tenths, as the machinists would say.

Or, using the same basic principles as White used to make his test bar, if you're feeling "crafty", fabricate your own straightedge (http://home.comcast.net/~jaswensen/machines/straight_edge/straight_edge.html). You'll need 3 identical pieces of suitable bar stock. I think silicon bronze or brass would make a beautiful straightedge, but dimensionally stable wood, Lexan, Good plywood, etc, will all work.
Once you've got the tools, dialing in your jointer is easy:

http://rogersfinewoodworking.com/blog/2009/02/23/rww-27-the-jointer-tune-up/
http://www.finewoodworking.com/ToolGuide/ToolGuidePDF.aspx?id=2643
http://wiki.vintagemachinery.org/JointerTuning.ashx

Even a girl (ducks) can do it:

http://womeninwoodworking.com/Main/Articles/Jointer_Maintenance_Skill_Builder_Power_Tool_TuneU _8430.aspx

[No slight intended to the fairer sex :D -- Most of the women I know are far better at this sort of stuff than are men.]

Jim Ledger
12-06-2011, 04:22 PM
Nick, life's just too short to dial in jointers to thousandths of an inch.:D

Nicholas Carey
12-06-2011, 06:14 PM
Nick, life's just too short to dial in jointers to thousandths of an inch.:DOnly takes a couple hours. One time thing, too...unless, of course, somebody starts hoiking the thing around by its tables :D

Tom M.
12-06-2011, 07:13 PM
Huh, that seems like a pretty accurate and easy way to set knives Jim. I'll try that next time.

Jim Ledger
12-06-2011, 07:17 PM
It's easier to do than explain, Tom.

J P
12-06-2011, 07:34 PM
I think I first saw that stick trick in one of Tage Frid's books. And knife sharpening in-place with a router.

We've had a Grizzly 8" in the shop for quite a few years now. No complaints.

Canoeyawl
12-06-2011, 07:38 PM
I use a tool like this one
You can buy similar for thirty bucks...

http://thewoodwhisperer.com/images/2010/05/oneway.jpg

David G
12-06-2011, 08:09 PM
Huh, that seems like a pretty accurate and easy way to set knives Jim. I'll try that next time.


Nick, life's just too short to dial in jointers to thousandths of an inch.:D


Only takes a couple hours. One time thing, too...unless, of course, somebody starts hoiking the thing around by its tables :D

I think part of the decision making process is whether one is a one-man operation - where all that time spent dialing things in to the nth degree will be liable to stay that way, or whether there are others (possibly less fastidious/careful/aware) using the shop who might casually and carelessly undo all your work. (As an example, I once saw a young man standing on the far end of a jointer infeed table in order to reach something up above. Ouch!) Another factor might be whether one is a hobbyist... or whether one is a professional. A hobbyist can afford to take 3 days setting up the jointer if she is so inclined. A professional needs to get the job done and get back to work.

Speaking from the perspective of the professional who has mostly had others in the same shop... I've used the stick method for decades. It's quick, and as accurate as I need. I've milled some of the denser hardwoods to machinist-like tolerances. I've created complicated angled assemblages where precision was critical. None of it required Starett-level straightedges and dial indicators, though I did do that level of care when I was just starting out. I just discovered that it wasn't sustainable in a commercial shop... and wasn't really needed.

Again... I'm not suggesting that level of precision is bad... it's not. In fact... it's fun to dial machinery in to that level. It's a challenge and quite rewarding when it's right. For my circumstance, though, it's not the right approach. As always... YMMV.

Tom M.
12-06-2011, 08:36 PM
For years I've used a magnetized thing made by Delta to hold the knives while I tighten them. Its an ideal method in theory, but I always have to tweak the outfeed table's level afterwards. It seems to hold the knives parallel to the table tho.

Here's that jig: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=delta+jointer+jig&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=10991795298225393858&sa=X&ei=X8LeTsm2O4ijiAKf0fnlCw&ved=0CHYQ8wIwAg

Jim Ledger
12-07-2011, 08:56 AM
One should pretty much be able to assume that the infeed/outfeed tables on any decent jointer are each individually flat. Presumably they were installed on the ways and ground flat as a pair by the manufacturer. Not much reason they should be able to "unflatten" themselves. If your tables aren't flat [enough], natch, you'll be paying a visit to your local machine shop.



I believe that fresh iron castings have to sit around for a year or so to relieve internal stresses that occur when the metal solidifies in the mold. If the parts are machined before their time, the might just warp. It might be that different manufacturers have differing standards where this practice is concerned. The fence on my old Delta jointer was a casting and it had an annoying twist down its length which required a certain lowering of standards in the dialing-in department.

The biggest stumbling block on my old jointer was the knives. They never came back from any sharpener without some hollow ground along their length. Surprisingly, though, the machine worked fairly well within its limitations, and if it was out of square or sniped a bit, a little tweak usually got it close enough (forgive me, Mr. Fleming).

Eric D
12-07-2011, 02:04 PM
thanks Jim, that makes sense to me.

I am just a simple man with a cheap alum 4' straight edge and an adjustable miter gauge...never seemed to bother the crap I turn out. But then I am not doing the fancy stuff either.

James McMullen
12-07-2011, 02:53 PM
A typical piece of wood can expand and contract more than four thousandths just in the difference in temperatures between nighttime and daytime. You can definitely spend much more time than it's really worth on this. . .unless getting your machines tuned up is the part of your hobby that really appeals to you. I do know a retired Boeing engineer who owns the sharpest chisels I've ever come across. He spends as much as half an hour on each one, honing and lapping them to unbelievable perfection. I've never seen a speck of sawdust contaminate his shop, either, and he still has yet to complete his second guitar in eight years since he retired. . . . .but he seems pretty happy, nonetheless, with the focus of his hobby.

But part of real craftsmanship is knowing when good enough really is good enough, whether it's selecting lumber, sharpening a chisel, or tuning up a tool. You usually don't need absolute perfection to get an excellent result.

Canoeyawl
12-07-2011, 04:09 PM
Just in case some of the critisism is aimed at the dial indicator, for me it is the fastest way of doing it.
If you know you only need to be within a few thousanths (as James points out, wood is "dumb" - metal is not so dumb and a few thousanths will stop you in your tracks), with the indicator/fixture you can actually see the knives move, it's just easier/faster for me. Maybe 20-30 minutes to change and adjust the knives, jointer or planer. Time is money.

(Of course that old 30" Orton traveling bed planer took a little longer...)

Ron Williamson
12-07-2011, 07:00 PM
We use a scrap of 1/4" glass, held flat on the outfeed table.
The height is right when you see and hear the knife touch it.
The PITA is getting 4 knives right over 16".
A guy doesn't answer the phone.
R

SamSam
12-07-2011, 09:32 PM
For the OP, shop made table extensions can help an awful lot. The outfeed table is easy, and just that alone is a big improvement. The infeed table is not needed as much because that is where you stand and are able to help support the board better than the outfeed side. The infeed side is harder to make an extension for, as you have to adjust it every time you adjust the infeed table up or down. If you keep the infeed table at one depth of cut, it's no problem to make and use an extension for it.

On my 6" jointer, my extension is a 2x6 about 4' long. On the table end, 2 sheetrock screws attach it to the wooden support frame of the jointer, level with the table, on the other end is a hinged 2x2 leg with a lag bolt in the bottom to fine tune the height of the table to bring it in the same plane as the table. There is a hook and eye on the leg opposite the hinge as a bit it of insurance against accidentally kicking the leg and folding it up. I usually leave it in place, but it only takes a few seconds to take out the screws , fold the leg and put it out of the way. The extension makes a world of difference getting a straight edge, at least for me.

I use a dial gauge to set the knives, it's attached to a short piece of cold rolled steel bar. I set it to 0 on the outfeed table, slide it out over the knives and set them with a very slight high position, less than a thousandth. To get the two tables in the same plane is a bit of work and the last thing you want to do is adjust the outfeed table to the knives as then you might have to do table to table readjustments. It's easy enough to get the knives right to begin with, but heretics and blasphemers have been known to make the final adjustments by turning on the machine and sliding a flat whetstone, held flat on the table, back and forth over the knives.

My theory is the biggest contributor to quality is attention to detail. Small errors compound into big errors, or at best medium results. Most woodwork starts from a straight edge, so the time spent on tuning the jointer is well worth it.

SamSam
12-07-2011, 09:48 PM
the most important thing with a jointer is that the tables are precisely parrallel with one another

checking that is almost impossible to do with anything other than the old reliable string method and that take time and patience to do and to correct if something is out of wack

Id opt out of buying any of the jointers mentioned so far unless you dont need precision in your projects or you have a lot of time to waste fiddling with the machine and with your stock later trying to get it to fit tightI was wondering what that method is? I use a method for getting the four corners of a door frame or window frame, or any applicable thing, all in the same plane by running two strings, going from opposing corners. Where the strings cross in the center, when they touch, everything is more or less aligned on the same plane. Is that what you're talking about?

James McMullen
12-07-2011, 09:52 PM
Most woodwork starts from a straight edge, so the time spent on tuning the jointer is well worth it.

Umm. . . are you sure you can say that with a straight face on a forum dedicated to building boats? :D

Seriously though, even though a jointer can be a totally useful tool, I've gone more than a month at a time when planking or re-framing where I haven't needed a single straight edge, and my bevel gauge and bandsaw got constant use while the tablesaw was used as a sawhorse. Only some woodwork starts from a straight edge.

SamSam
12-07-2011, 10:06 PM
Oooo, that's right. Wood hulls. I confess, I've gone decades without having a wooden boat. ;)

Nicholas Carey
12-07-2011, 11:42 PM
Umm. . . are you sure you can say that with a straight face on a forum dedicated to building boats? :D

Seriously though, even though a jointer can be a totally useful tool, I've gone more than a month at a time when planking or re-framing where I haven't needed a single straight edge, and my bevel gauge and bandsaw got constant use while the tablesaw was used as a sawhorse. Only some woodwork starts from a straight edge.In the vast panoply of crafts that is "woodwork", boatbuilding constitutes but a small minority.

The vast majority of "woodwork", in the larger sense of the word -- whether it be cabinetry, carpentry, etc. -- is rectilinear in nature. And where it is not, starting out with "normal" (in the mathematical sense (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/NormalVector.html)) reference surfaces tends to simplify things considerable.

James McMullen
12-08-2011, 12:15 AM
Chair-making, woodturning, wood carving, bandsaw boxes, luthierie, marquetry, scrollsawing. . .again I say, only some forms of woodworking involves straight edges. Cabinetry and basic carpentry mostly do, granted. But I know plenty of woodworkers who don't even need a jointer. That's not to say I would give up even one of the three different jointers I've got plugged in. . . .