An Edge-Jointing Primer
Well-tuned tools and the right technique create joints that last
Synopsis: There was a time when Gary Rogowski was convinced that his jointer was possessed. Since then, he’s discovered that edge-jointing problems, though common, are almost always correctable. He says the most overlooked detail when edge-jointing lumber is what the board looks like to start with. He explains how to get a flat reference face, how to read the grain to prevent tearout, how to check for high and low spots, and techniques for both hand-jointing and machine jointing. Boards planed at complementary angles mate flat, he says, and the jointer must be well-tuned to create straight edges. Rogowski diagnoses jointer outfeed-table problems, shows how to joint a long board, and discusses how to handle problem boards. Then he talks about trying not to get a straight edge – when he makes a spring joint.
There was a time when I was convinced my jointer was possessed. It would thwart my every effort to make a crooked edge straight. Sort-of straight edges became more humped, and wide boards became ever narrower at one end. Like many woodworkers, I found myself talking to my jointer, pleading for cooperation. My early efforts at handplaning edge-joints didn’t go much better. When I would get an edge close to straight, it might not be square.
I have since happily discovered that edge-jointing problems, though common, are almost always correctable. A well-tuned jointer or handplane is essential, and some basic techniques will solve most problems. But the most overlooked detail when edgejointing lumber is what the board looks like to start with.
To get a straight, square edge, you first need a flat reference face. If your boards are cupped or twisted, choose one face to be the reference face, and joint it or plane it dead flat. If you plane the other face…