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Thread: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

  1. #1
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    Default Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    So, I am contemplating the purchase of a jointer. I have a decent planer, table saw, bandsaw and drill press so the jointer is the only major power tool that I'm missing. (Well, a ship saw would be nice but I don't think one would fit in my basement...). And while a long bed 8" jointer would be ideal I don't really have room for one. However these little Rockwell jointers seem fairly common, are a reasonable size, and not very expensive.



    I should add that I like vintage tools. My table saw is a '60s-vintage Powermatic and the bandsaw is a '50s-era Delta. So I'm familiar with the quirks of older machinery. But from reading the various comments online one would think that a 4" jointer is entirely useless - good only as a door stop or, ahem, boat anchor. Too short, too narrow.

    However in thinking through the sort of projects I'm likely to attempt I don't know that I really need anything larger? It seems to me that very little boat carpentry requires jointing wide boards. And for those few occasions when I might want to do that there are workarounds with router sleds and table saw fences.

    Am I missing something? If I buy this jointer will I be perpetually disappointed? Or, as I hope, will it let me escape from box store, dimensional lumber hell and experience the joys of milling clear, straight lumber worthy of a master craftsman (which I am assuredly not, but a man can dream)?
    - Chris

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    You really need to have a jointer if you want to make the most of your table saw. Nothing should be run through the table saw without having a straight edge on it first. Tuned well that machine will be a great addition to your shop.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    You really need to have a jointer if you want to make the most of your table saw. Nothing should be run through the table saw without having a straight edge on it first. Tuned well that machine will be a great addition to your shop.
    Thanks Steven. Yes, I found that out recently in trying to mill some nasty, twisted, box store douglas fir into framing for a train layout shelf. What a waste of time! Never again.
    - Chris

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    What Steven said...

    It will do more work in five minutes than you can do in an hour by hand. And just imagine if the bed on your hand plane was that long.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    What Steven said...

    It will do more work in five minutes than you can do in an hour by hand. And just imagine if the bed on your hand plane was that long.
    Well, I wouldn't be able to lift it for one thing! But I take your point. Ok, I sent the seller an email and will see where it leads.
    - Chris

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    That's a pretty nice looking little jointer.
    I wish you luck.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Definitely worth having. I have what I would call a pretty rudimentary wood shop and the 4" jointer is one of the first pieces I purchased. I would however say that it ranks up there with bandsaws in terms of potential for serious injury so use it with a good deal of respect and care.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    A dissenting opinion here. I have almost zero experience on a jointer and never felt the need to own one. I have a terrific 3HP table saw with a great fence that does everything I need it to do to get stock straight and square. I work mostly with short stock, 6 feet or less, so maybe that's my problem. But I have trimmed my entire house in CVGDF and never considered using any tool other than the table saw, planer, and thickness sander.

    But buy the thing if you think you need it, because you can never have too many shop toys.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    I have its clone and loved it 'til the motor finally died and I found an 8" long bed Jet for the price of a new motor. I'll put a new motor on my old one when I can find one for cheap and use it for small bits and when I need 2 angles on stuff. Watch the sag on the infeed table...mine was around .030, but cleaning up the ways worked wonders.

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    I have a 6" jointer and almost never use it.
    Making some chopping boards with my son recently, he was selling them at Xmas for pocket money, I used it for some en-mass rebating. Worked really well.

    I use my table saw to give me a mostly flat surface, and a right angle edge. Tidy as necessary and run it through the thicknesser.

    If I had the choice of a jointer or a thicknesser, I would go thicknesser every time. I find a jointer is a nice to have, but a thicknesser is essential.

    If there is no choice; it's jointer or nothing - it is nice to have.


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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    That's a pretty nice looking little jointer.
    I wish you luck.
    Thanks! Looks like I'll go see it tomorrow so I'll report back.

    Quote Originally Posted by MalabarJr View Post
    Definitely worth having. I have what I would call a pretty rudimentary wood shop and the 4" jointer is one of the first pieces I purchased. I would however say that it ranks up there with bandsaws in terms of potential for serious injury so use it with a good deal of respect and care.
    Yes - anything with sharp spinny bits gets my full attention for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    A dissenting opinion here. I have almost zero experience on a jointer and never felt the need to own one. I have a terrific 3HP table saw with a great fence that does everything I need it to do to get stock straight and square. I work mostly with short stock, 6 feet or less, so maybe that's my problem. But I have trimmed my entire house in CVGDF and never considered using any tool other than the table saw, planer, and thickness sander.

    But buy the thing if you think you need it, because you can never have too many shop toys.
    That's a reasonable point Terry. I too have a 3hp table saw with a great fence and I'm sure I could coerce it into doing the job of a jointer. But I do get a certain amount of joy in having the right tool for the job. And even more from seeing some decades-old piece of machinery still working for a living. So really this is less about whether I *need* a jointer, but whether it would make working in the shop more enjoyable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh MacD View Post
    I have its clone and loved it 'til the motor finally died and I found an 8" long bed Jet for the price of a new motor. I'll put a new motor on my old one when I can find one for cheap and use it for small bits and when I need 2 angles on stuff. Watch the sag on the infeed table...mine was around .030, but cleaning up the ways worked wonders.
    Thanks Hugh. Good tip.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    4" in is okay but a 6" jointer would be better choice imo Chris that's if you ever plan to do any glue up work,. Generally, boards over 6" wide will cup, so having that 6in jointer to flatten a board is a really really nice, but if you're not going to be building furniture, table tops, and panels, a 4' jointer will be good for squaring up edges and flattening small boards. You can probably find a 6" almost as cheap as 4" jointer
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    That's a reasonable point Terry. I too have a 3hp table saw with a great fence and I'm sure I could coerce it into doing the job of a jointer. But I do get a certain amount of joy in having the right tool for the job. And even more from seeing some decades-old piece of machinery still working for a living. So really this is less about whether I *need* a jointer, but whether it would make working in the shop more enjoyable.
    Then buy the dang thing and be happy about it.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    4" in is okay but a 6" jointer would be better choice imo Chris that's if you ever plan to do any glue up work,. Generally, boards over 6" wide will cup, so having that 6in jointer to flatten a board is a really really nice, but if you're not going to be building furniture, table tops, and panels, a 4' jointer will be good for squaring up edges and flattening small boards. You can probably find a 6" almost as cheap as 4" jointer
    Thanks Denise. Funny, when I first started thinking about buying the 4" jointer I asked myself "will I ever be building furniture, table tops or panels?" (Literally, almost that exact question) and the answer was "probably not, or so rarely that I can use workarounds if I have to". And then I made a list of the projects I foresee wanting to tackle in the next year or so and it went something like "laminated frames for Petrel, deck beams ditto, pilothouse sole framing, and a bunch of other stuff using mostly plywood." About the only thing I can see needing a wider jointer for would be the cap rail on Petrel when I get around to that project, but that's a ways away and I'm sure I can work out something when I do get there.

    I suspect I'll buy the 4" jointer and be happy with it for a year or two. Like that Rockwell contractor saw, which was fine for a while before I was seduced by the Powermatic. And that's ok.
    - Chris

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    If you have some space, silly question.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    If you ever had to work with rough cut lumber as a starting point, the jointer will become your best friend. When there's no "straight" edge it'll give you one. I'd say no brainer, load it up!.
    I swear I'm half done.

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    Slabs of hardwood are all the rage nowadays people seek them out everywhere and they're all trying to make money selling them,. If you get into larger stuff Chris, you could always build a frame and sled for your router to flatten large surfaces or boards but it's rare that we need anything over 6 in wide for any kind of a glue up, because boards will continue to cup no matter how stable they are except maybe the finest quarter sawn lumber, on the do-it-yourself woodworking forums and groups people are always buying framing lumber to build "farm tables" you can imagine how they turn out,

    You will also need one of these,v or the more expensive type. https://www.grizzly.com/products/Jointer-Pal-Jointer-Pal-Polycarbonate-Body-Up-to-8-/W1210A?gclid=Cj0KCQiA7aPyBRChARIsAJfWCgKGVVnsVrZXl EzSXOaw5bYM_gr05nW8J9gdP4f1-cEDFi21hclsdt8aAorrEALw_wcB
    Last edited by DeniseO30; 02-16-2020 at 10:46 AM.
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Had this little guy about 30 some years, still use it a lot. I put new high speed bearings in it when I first got it.

    IMG_1034.jpg

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Oh, and get yourself a magnetic jig for setting the knives.

    https://www.rockler.com/rockler-magn...SAAEgJjuPD_BwE


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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Oops, see Denise beat me to the magnetic jig.

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    Sorry about that Ron!
    I'm sure y'all have seen the Craftsman 6" 1950s jointer I have on some of my other threads, works great when the blades are sharp or new but they make a hammering sound when they're due for sharpening or changing out,. 6in blades are really cheap, hardly even worth sharpening
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    4" in is okay but a 6" jointer would be better choice imo Chris that's if you ever plan to do any glue up work,. Generally, boards over 6" wide will cup, so having that 6in jointer to flatten a board is a really really nice, but if you're not going to be building furniture, table tops, and panels, a 4' jointer will be good for squaring up edges and flattening small boards. You can probably find a 6" almost as cheap as 4" jointer
    When I was in the 2-year woodworking program, I had use of a whole shop full of industrial-grade tools. But not 24/7 access. So I set up a small shop in the garage.

    And a 4" jointer was on of my first acquisitions. Along with a tiny table saw.

    I found the limitations of the 4" a bit much, so soon upgraded to a 6". Big improvement. A few years later, when I started my first professional shop... I upgraded to an 8". Even bigger improvement. Then my partner found a nifty old 12" which we restored. Luxury!!!

    Your home shop needs will be different than a pro shops, but a jointer is one tool where bigger definitely IS better. As the size increases arithmetically, the usefulness increased geometrically.

    All this by way of saying - if your shop won't accomodate an 8" tool, on casters so it can be shoved out of the way... hold out for the 6" version.

    And no matter what tool you decide on - get familiar with the techniques and jigs for straightening a board on the table saw prior to finishing it off on the jointer.
    David G
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    Well I can see what this is becoming, " bigger is better more power argh argh argh!" Lol

    But all that aside, Chris has a lunch box planer, and with a simple jig, it can be used to flatten boards wider than 4" which is almost never imo
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Any jointer will be useful but only if it is in fine fettle. That older machine may have been abused or even damaged. Be sure to check it out throughly. Take a long accurate straight-edge with you along with a feeler gage set. When the in-feed and out-feed tables are cranked to the same height they must be co-planer. If they aren't, the machine must be corrected. This may not be easy.

    This bears repeating: If the two table surfaces are not parallel... the machine is worthless. That is unless one wants to plane a curve into one's stock.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Any jointer will be useful but only if it is in fine fettle. That older machine may have been abused or even damaged. Be sure to check it out throughly. Take a long accurate straight-edge with you along with a feeler gage set. When the in-feed and out-feed tables are cranked to the same height they must be co-planer. If they aren't, the machine must be corrected. This may not be easy.

    This bears repeating: If the two table surfaces are not parallel... the machine is worthless. That is unless one wants to plane a curve into one's stock.

    Jeff

    Thanks Jeff - that's the sort of thing I don't know and need to before I go look at it. I'll definitely check the tables.

    Denise and Ron - good info on the magnetic jig. I have been watching videos on how to set up a jointer but none have shown that little gizmo. Very handy!

    David, the "bigger is better" response is generally what I expected and I'm sure you are right. But I really don't have the room for any more large tools so if I can get by with the little jointer for now that would be ideal. I do have plans to expand my shop space by making a land grab of the adjacent room that is currently devoted to storage and the furnace. However that's a project which will require delicate familial negotiations plus demolishing another room and the creation of an alternate storage area so it's not going to happen any time soon. But when I do I will be looking for something like this...



    Working with rough sawn lumber is definitely the goal. The little Rockwell may be on the small side for that purpose but it's inexpensive enough that I can buy it and work with it for a while and then sell it on easily enough if I decide I need something larger. Assuming it's in serviceable condition that is. We will see soon enough.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    I work for a big contractor sometimes and have had occasion to use their woodworking shop. They have a giant old jointer, maybe 16? I was milling some 16/4 mahogany as part of a balustrade project for a church they were renovating and I ran a piece over the jointer. About ten minutes later I went to run another piece and when I got there it was still spinning! It was so massive and had so much momentum and the bearings were so good that it would spin for ages after shutting it off.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    And probably Babbitt too. Which I have redone on a 12" jointer and it is not a job for the weak of heart or a shallow pocket.
    Mandrels, dial indicators, bearing scrapers and Lots of time...
    When it was finished it was a beautiful tool all 4500 pounds of it.

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    I'm sure a lot of people on the forum are familiar with the shopsmith machinery which had a 4-inch attachment but hey, big tools are used to bring things down to size so we can use smaller tools.. like when the weeds are too high...
    giphy.jpg
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Ha! I look at that big old jointer and all I can think is that it should have "MIND THE GAP" in painted in big yellow letters on the tables on either side of the cutter head.



    But in any case, I bought the little Rockwell jointer. I almost didn't. It was much smaller, rustier and altogether shabbier in person than I expected. But the tables seemed square, as far as I could tell from the framing square which was the best straightedge I could come up with on short notice. And it was complete, the blades seemed sharp, and it ran fine. I thought the asking price of $100 was a bit high given the condition so I offered $60 but the sellers weren't willing to come down that much. At which point I started thinking that maybe I should just wait for something else to come along. I thanked the sellers, got in my car and started to drive off when one them started flagging me down in the mirror. Turns out that on second thought they would take the $60 thankyouverymuch.

    So there it is. I now own a jointer.



    It's a cute little thing. Barely big enough to be considered a stationary power tool at all really. The tables are rusty and need to be cleaned up. And I want to replace the blades. Oh, and that switch rod is scary - all it takes is a little bump to turn it on. So a real switch is needed. And a new belt as well. Heck, maybe I'll even paint it!

    Come to think of it I guess maybe I don't have a new jointer as much as I have a new tool restoration project. But that's ok too.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    Nice score Chris! Looking at the pulley on the motor that thing must really rev up! Is the motor 3450 RPM? 6 to 1 Ratio? yeeeee haaaaw!
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Cool. Now you need to put a helical cutter head in it.

    D1224F50-B2CF-40E6-82FF-1FD26DDCF4F3.jpg

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Yes, a safer switch, and a careful fettling. Instructions are available online. Makes the difference between functional and endlessly aggravating. For the rust, so you know about Ospho (phosphoric acid)?
    David G
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeniseO30 View Post
    Nice score Chris! Looking at the pulley on the motor that thing must really rev up! Is the motor 3450 RPM? 6 to 1 Ratio? yeeeee haaaaw!
    Thanks Denise. No - only 1725 rpm. So the cutter head is staying subsonic.

    Quote Originally Posted by ron ll View Post
    Cool. Now you need to put a helical cutter head in it.

    D1224F50-B2CF-40E6-82FF-1FD26DDCF4F3.jpg
    Amazingly they actually sell a helical cutter head that would fit. But the price... Yow! No thanks. I think I'll stick with the plain old straight blades.



    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    Yes, a safer switch, and a careful fettling. Instructions are available online. Makes the difference between functional and endlessly aggravating. For the rust, so you know about Ospho (phosphoric acid)?
    Yep, Ospho is great stuff. My go-to product to bleeding fasteners. But would you really use it on a cast iron tool top? I'd think the iron phosphate that results would just be harder to grind smooth than the rust. I was planning on WD40 and a razor blade to start followed by judicious use of a random orbital sander.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    Default Re: Should I buy a 4" jointer?

    I would use an orbital sander and get all over those flat surfaces with about 80 grit, then finish with 220.
    You won't remove enough metal to measure it.
    Then spray all that shiny iron with a couple coats rattle can clear lacquer.

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    I knew that helical head suggestion was coming! There is one available for my old craftsman jointer also but at the cost and how little I use it...

    Lol at least nobody jumped in with the vfd drive suggestion when I mentioned the RPM but I've never heard of a low RPM jointer,.
    I can see you making stiles and rails Chris, might even make new cabinet doors for.... your kitchen? Or parts and pieces for Petrel?
    Denise, Bristol PA, Oday30, Anchor Yacht Club, On tidal Delaware River. my current project; http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...0-Ducker-Resto

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