Master the Jointer
Veteran instructor shows how to get better results and stay safe
Synopsis: The jointer is one of the least understood tools in the workshop, and one of the most dangerous, according to teacher Marc Adams. It’s also a critical machine to master, because properly milled wood is not only a joy to work with, but it is essential to quality woodworking. Here, he gives you everything you need to know about how a jointer works and how to get the most out of it, from setup, to basic technique, to tricks for oversize boards.
Buying roughsawn wood is one of the best ways to save money as a woodworker. It is also the gateway to fine work. Instead of relying on the lumberyard to surface and thickness your material, you control every dimension and ensure that every board you use ends up flat, square, and straight.
Properly milled wood is a joy to work with, making machining, joining, assembly, and finishing much easier. And you can’t mill wood accurately without a jointer.
Unfortunately, the jointer is one of the least understood tools, and one of the most dangerous, intimidating woodworkers new and old. I’ll explain how it works, how to get much better cuts on it, and how to stay safe at all times.
The first step is understanding what a jointer does, and how its job differs from that of a planer. With its tables aligned with the cutterhead, the jointer straightens and flattens one surface with no regard for the opposite face.
In contrast, the planer’s cutterhead is elevated above its reference surface (the bed), guaranteeing uniform thickness but not flatness. If a board goes in bowed or twisted, it will come out that way. This is why the jointer is critical, and comes first in the milling process.
The milling process starts with rough-cutting…