My brand new 100 year old jointer
I could be wrong, but I doubt any woodworker has every wished he or she had a smaller jointer. I know I never have. My first jointer, which I still have an use, was a 1959 6 in. Delta. It’s a great machine, but the beds are very short and I often find myself wanting to joint boards 8 in. wide and wider. So, I pined for a bigger jointer.
In fact, I wanted to skip the 8 in. models and go straight to a 12 in. jointer. I began to look around for one. I quickly eliminated almost every new 12 in. from consideration, because, to be honest, I already have one mortgage. I don’t need another to pay for a piece of woodworking machinery. The 12 in. jointers that were in my price range didn’t appeal to me. So, I began to reluctanly look at 8 in. jointers. Again, to get what I wanted (parallelogram beds and big weight), the price just got too high.
I was despondent. But then I visited frequent FWW author Chris Gochnour, and saw his recently restored 16 in. Oliver 166 jointer. That reminded me of one I had seen years before, in the shop of another author, Tony O’Malley. And I remembered that I love old iron. (Check out my tablesaw and it’s fence.) And I really love the Oliver 166 jointer. I had only seen 16 in. models, but headed over to the Vintage Machinery website, and soon discovered that Oliver made this model in several sizes, from 8 in. all the way up to 30 in. That was that. I began to look for a 12 in. Oliver 166. And I found one (pretty quickly, too)! It’s from about 1918, but is in great shape. I’ve been working to get it up and running. I’m nearly there–just need to make a dust collection box and mount the motor.
So did I get what I was looking for in a jointer? Yes. This fellow weighs at least 1500 lb. It’s 8 ft. long. The beds can be adjusted with a system that works similar to a parallelogram bed (see photos above for more on this). And all of that for less than $1000. I’ve spent a few hundred more on a new (used) motor, paint, random parts, and knives, but I’m still around the price of some lower-priced 8 in. jointers.
Check out the photos above for some details. Also, I’ll write another post shortly with some advice for those of you who might want to buy some old iron of your own.
Almost ready to go. Painted, wired up, and sitting idle. It kills me that I can't use the jointer yet, but I've still go another Saturday's worth of work to do. Namely, make a dust collection box and mount the motor.
Before. This is one of the pedestals before I painted it. A previous owner stripped it back down to the cast iron and filler used to fill in pits in the casting.
Great table adjustments. This pair of wedges has two jobs. First, there are four of them under each table and the bottom wedge can be moved to adjust the tables coplaner to one another. The wedges on top moves up and down to change the table's height.
One of these things is not like the other. The knife on the bottom is from my 6 in. Delta jointer. The one on top? That 's for the Oliver.
Old school beauty. This is a detail shot of the cutterhead guard.
On button. This is the set up used to start and stop the motor. The big box is a magnetic starter (bought used) and two button control station. The cord runs to the motor beneath the jointer.