This is a list of 17 things to look for when picking out which jointer to buy.
Obviously, if you are a beginner woodworker, this list will be hugely helpful to you.
But, we’ve heard stories of experienced woodworkers ordering 230 volt prewired jointers, only to have 115 volt rated power supplies in their workshop.
Things like that are not only costly, but will lose you time and be highly frustrating.
Let’s get into the list now and get you armed with all the information you need for finding the best wood jointer for you…
17 Tips For Buying The Best Jointer For You
1. Jointer, Or jointer planer
There are jointer machines, and there are also 2 in 1 jointer/planer machines.
If you get a jointer to flatten the faces and square one edge of the board, you may also want to get a planer to thickness your board from the remaining edge.
You can get the planer as part of a jointer/planer, or separately.
You can read more about each here:
2. Benchtop jointer, or ground standing/enclosed stand jointer
Jointers will operate from two main positions – from a bench top, and freestanding from the ground – which are sometimes called enclosed stand jointers.
As a rule of thumb –
- Bench top jointers are usually cheaper, lighter, more mobile – but lack the quality of materials, finish, precision and performance of a closed stand jointer
- Ground based, and closed steel stand jointers are usually heavier, and more expensive – but can be moved around with a mobile base, and will provide more cutting options than the standard 6 inch wide cut that a lot of bench top jointer provide
3. What materials is it made of
Benchtop jointer are usually made of cheaper materials e.g. the tables and fences are usually made of aluminium.
Some benchtop jointer like the Cutech and Delta might contain cast iron though.
Most ground based or steel closed stand jointers are made with a solid and very stable steel stand, and a very solid cast iron table and fence.
Aluminium is not bad – it can be a good option for those on a budget that just want to get the job done.
But, the aluminium tables and fences can sometimes fall out of parallel or out of level and need re-adjustment or fine tuning.
4. Look at the motor
When looking at the motor specifications, look at:
- Horsepower – gives you an idea of how much drive to get through tougher woods the machine has
- Amps – amps is usually a good indicator of overall power
- Phase – most jointers are 1 or 2 phase
- Voltage – very important. Most jointers will be either in the 115 volt or 230 volt category, or be prewired for one voltage, but able to be changed to the other. Make sure you have the proper voltage power circuits for the jointer you get, and you get a licensed electrician to professionally install or wire if required.
5. Width of jointer table
What width of lumber can the jointer cut on the table? We are talking cutting width capacity.
As a general rule, the higher the width cutting capacity of the machine e.g. 6, 8, 10, 12 inch – the heavier the machine gets.
Make sure with the big machines that you have room in your workspace, you get a mobile base, and you’ve put thought into how you will get it delivered, set up and installed.
6. Length of jointer table
Look at the overall length of the jointer table, as well as the length of the infeed and outfeed tables – to get an idea of the length of timber you’ll be able to feed through the machine.
A smaller 6 inch benchtop jointer might have a table length of say 30 inches, whilst the larger 8, 10 and 12 inch jointers can have table lengths up to 80 odd inches – which is massive.
7. Cutting depth capacity
Pretty straight forward – the depth of cut you can perform with the jointer.
1/8 inch depth of cut is pretty standard among the smaller jointers.
8. Feed rate
How many feet of lumber per minute can the machine process?
This gives you an idea of whether the jointer is a production jointer or not.
9. Cutterhead – straight, or spiral/helical cutterhead
Straight cutterheads generally have 2 to 3 knives and cut the wood in a chopping type motion.
Helical cutterheads can have 30, 40 and even 50 odd helical knife inserts that moreso shear the wood for a supposedly finer finish.
Helical cutterheards can usually be quiter than straight cutterheads while in operation too.
10. Cutter head diameter, and knife size
Not really a big thing to consider, but something to look at anyway for adjusting and changing knives on the cutter head.
Cutterheads can be different diameters and require different types of knives to be replaced on them – it’s worth knowing this information.
11. RPM and cuts per minute of cutterhead
If you multiply the number of knives on the cutterhead by the RPM (how many times the cutterhead rotates per minute), you’ll get the number of cuts the jointer performs per minute.
12. Standard design or parallelogram design
Bench top jointer usually have a standard design.
The bigger and higher quality 8, 10 & 12 inch jointers might have a parallelogram design.
A parallelogram jointer is designed to give you a consistently high standard cut and finish by keeping the tables parallel by default, instead of you having to adjust and check them all the time.
Parallelogram jointers are often the ones with cast iron tables and fences.
13. Diameter of dust port
Bench top jointers have small dust ports – usually in the range of about 2.5 inch in diameter.
The larger jointers usually have about a 4 inch diameter dust port – which means more volume for wood debris to be discharged.
14. CFM of dust collection required
Look at the cubic feet of air per minute that your shop vac or dust collection system needs to extract in order to suit your jointer.
The jointer should give a CFM number.
15. Does the fence tilt – how does it tilt, and does it have positive stops
Jointer fences should tilt one way, or both ways, up to 45 or 90 degrees.
Also check the positive stops where it can lock in at. Some fences might have positive stops at 45, 90 and 135 degrees.
16. Hand wheels and controls
Look at what hand wheels and controls the jointer has easily accessible on the front of the jointer.
17. Rabbeting ledge
Does the jointer have a rabbeting ledge (an extra stepped ledge on the outside of the table for rabbet cuts).
Helical jointers usually don’t support a rabbeting ledge, but check the model jointer you are looking at to confirm.