what is the best woodworking jointer

Our Buyers Guide For The Best Jointers For DIYs And Professionals

Woodworking is only sweet when the process is streamlined, and every project has a perfectly smooth wood. Probably the most crucial tool to flatten faces and square all tough edges is a jointer. It does more than 80% of most woodworking projects, making it an important investment in lumber. 

Jointers come in different shapes and sizes, and if you’re a newbie, it might be hard to know which one suits you. So, firstly, we’ll look at the selection criteria for the best jointers and then come up with some of the best jointers in the market. So, let’s dive in! 

What Is A Jointer and What Does It Do?

A jointer is a piece of equipment used to straighten the edges of boards. It is versatile and does more than most woodworking equipment, such as: 

  • Smooth the edges of particle-board, plywood, and Plexiglas 

  • Bevel board and door edges

  • Straighten an edge of a curved board to follow the table saw fence 

  • Clean up glue joints in laminated boards for a clean look 

  • Flatten warped board faces 

  • Trim minor parts of stock from the window or door molding during renovation

A jointer has a cutter head that spins between a smooth infeed-outfeed surface table. You can adjust the blade's tips to accurate measurements so that as the board passes through, it is cut to a determined depth. The fence holds the board at a constant angle to the cutter head and the jointer table. So, when you set the infeed table at 4 inches, it will remove 4 inches along a flat board edge with the same angle to the board. Also see our guide to buying a table saw.

What Are The Different Types Of Jointers? 

There are several kinds of jointers available on the woodworking market. Knowing how each one works puts you ahead in selecting the best model for the type of project you need. Below is a short overview of each kind of jointer: 

Open Standard Jointer 

This type of jointer has an exposed design with no shock absorption. Therefore, it has fewer safety measures and would only be recommended for intermediate to advanced carpenters. They are also noisier than their counterparts.

Closed Jointer

This one has a completely closed base, and it protects the motor and the cutter head from accumulating dust. It also acts as a safety feature to prevent injuries. It is an ideal jointer whose sturdy base acts as a shock absorption unit. The jointer is versatile and can shave wood from 6 inches to 16 inches. 

Hand Jointer

His tool is the most versatile as you can operate on your plank of wood from any point. In addition, it is handheld and portable to use in stations with limited space. 

Tabletop Jointer

This jointer does not have an outfeed base and normally fits on a table. It is similar to a benchtop jointer only in that it is smaller and has a closed version only. The jointer is best for operating wood no more than 6 inches. 

Long Jointer

Like its name, this jointer is quite long with arms made to do fine trimming as the infeed is the only adjustable part. 

Some Crucial Features To Look For In Best Jointers

Cutting depth

The cutting depth determines how many times you have to pass the board through it before getting a perfect finish. The deeper the jointer’s cut, the fewer rounds you’ll need. 

Cutting Capacity

The cutting capacity of a jointer is relative to the width of the cutter head. This is vital when joining a board’s face as it dictates how wide of the material you’ll run through the joint. The cutting capacity can range from as little as 4 inches to 20+ inches. 

Basically, a 6-inch jointer is a sweet spot for most carpenters, but some projects certainly do well in larger capacities. For instance, when working on huge bed headboards, it is better to have fewer, wider boards which can only be possible if you have a larger cutting capacity. 

Cutting Head

Standard jointers come with two or three straight knives on the cutter head. The knives fit on the same measurements and leave a nice finish when sharp. However, straight knives come with a few downsides. Running a board over a straight knife cutter head is considerably louder than a carbide cutter by around 10 decibels. That’s like comparing the sound of a washing machine to a very loud family meeting. Straight knives also need constant sharpening than carbide cutters, and if one knife gets a little nick, you’ll have to remove them. 

On the other hand, Carbide cutting heads have streamlined carbide blades laid in a spiral cutter head pattern. If any of the blades get a nick, you can simply rotate them to 90 degrees as they can cut on all four sides. Smaller carbide blades also offer a smoother finish and are extremely helpful during sanding. 

But carbide cutter heads come with a small caveat depending on your woodworking needs; they’re pricey. If you already own a straight knife cutter head, you could upgrade to new carbide blades at a smaller price. 

Jointer Size

If you have enough space in your shop, then lucky you! Space is a crucial consideration for most carpenters, especially when using a tool like a jointer with infeed and outfeed tables. We mentioned earlier the different types of jointers, which are more or less different in size. The 6-inch jointer is the most popular and ideal equipment for newbies and experienced carpenters. It is enough to work on a wide dimension of wood and can handle longer planks. Long table jointers will be excellent for large projects as they can go up to 80 inches long and 16 inches wide. 

Power

Power determines how fast you’ll cut through a piece of wood. A more powerful jointer has a better finish than a less powerful model. High-powered jointers are also excellent at cutting different types of hardwoods and making wider cuts. 

A typical 6-inch jointer has a 1-horsepower motor enough to cut through softwoods, hardwoods, and some exotic woods. Jointers with 8-inch blades run on 2-horsepower engines, while high-grade commercial jointers have blades up to 16 inches with 3 horsepower engines.

Dust Collection

Even the latest models of jointers generate tons of debris. If you need to keep your workshop squeaky clean or extend the lifespan of your jointer, look out for a dust collection mechanism. Most models have this feature, and those that don’t have a DIY version that’s definitely online. 

Warranty

Finally, once you set your mind on the best possible jointer, get to know the warranty terms. You might be paying a few hundred dollars more for a warranty, but it’s certainly the best decision for a toll with several moving parts. So, ensure you get the best deal possible (at a bargain, of course!)

Additional Features

Jointers come from different brands and models, which makes each piece unique. When looking for a jointer, check if there are any additional features to ease functionality and usability. Some small extra features such as a lockable power button, extender table wheels, and cutter head design can make a huge difference. These features may not be significant to the general functions of a jointer but may come in handy for your specific projects. 

Planer Vs. Jointer: What’s The Difference?

While some people like to use both terms interchangeably, a planer has distinctive functions from a jointer. A jointer will give a perfectly smooth single side, while a planer provides consistent thickness and parallel boards. A planer’s knife cuts from the top, whereas jointers have cutting knives interlocked on the base table with the wood passing through it. 

Our Top Jointers Reviewed

PORTER-CABLE PC160JT 6” Jointer 

The PC160JT starts off our review as it is packed with unique features, including the variable speed setting. Its five select speed settings range between 6000 RPM and 11000 RPM, which gives you an ideal speed to select depending on the type of wood you want to smoothen or straighten. 

The jointer also has an interesting jackscrew pattern that allows you to adjust and replace knives easily. Thanks to its vital cutter head lock, replacing the cutterheads is also a breeze. Finally, if you want to use a jointer with an adequate table area, the PC160JT may be a good pick. The long surface table can work for pieces as wide as 6 inches. 

The model has a two-knife cutter head that can go between 12,000 to 22,000 cuts per minute. With this benchtop jointer, you can easily get a cutting depth of ⅛ inches. It weighs approximately 36 pounds making it a portable piece ideal for a small shop or garage where it can be stored when not in use. 

A little caveat of this model is that it sometimes doesn’t stay tuned. So while the centerface is supposed to make the board make accurate adjustments of 45 and 90-degree angles, you have to check to ensure the fence angle is accurate constantly. 

You also have to check the level of the infeed and outfeed tables. Honestly, if you’re a perfectionist, this piece might not be optimal. However, if you’re just starting carpentry and still not conversant with machines, the adjustments and calibrations may be a bit tacky. 

Indeed this piece is made for intermediates to professionals as it needs additional skills to operate successfully. Unfortunately, Porter-Cable has announced that it will soon phase out this model, so you may want to hurry while stocks last. 

Pros

  • Has five different speed settings that improve performance based on the type of wood used

  • Lightweight and easy to carry around 

  • Wider working surface area

  • A 2-horsepower electric motor 

Cons

  • This design is hard to find; most online stores are sold out  

  • Requires extra skills for calibration 

  • It doesn’t stay tuned 

RELATED: Our Cantek jointer range.

POWERMATIC 1791317K 6 inch Jointer

Powermatic 1791317K is a heavy-duty woodworking tool equipped with a helical cutter head and select four-sided carbide knife inserts. The helical cutter head provides excellent cutting efficiency and a finer finish compared to most kinds of jointers. In addition, it is quieter than the Porter-Cable PC160JT as it has four-sided knife inserts. 

The commercial-grade cutter has a heavy-duty design with a 66-inch length and a 7½ bed width length. That’s a reasonable working space for any woodworking project from medium to mass production scale. Due to the heavy ground-cast iron table, it is also heavier than the Porter-Cable PC160JT model. 

The iron table has a wide surface area for larger workpieces, and it is also one of the longest available. You can reset and adjust the outfeed and infeed table to increase your working space. Apart from a large working area, the Powermatic 1791317K is equipped with an all-iron cast fence system to give precise cuts. This model can definitely guarantee accurate cuts with minimal maintenance. 

Since it is a heavy-duty jointer, it requires two people to assemble. Nevertheless, it is easy to install and won’t take a lot of time. Lastly, the fence system is not fully flat, and it might take folks some time to adjust to it. Powermatic understands the hazards of using such a machine and has taken proper measures to ensure safety is observed. The jointer has a lockable power switch to prevent accidental power-ups. The power button is also easily accessible during an injury or accident. 

Pros

  • Large adjustable working space 

  • Easy to assemble 

  • Best for heavy-duty woodworks

  • Durable design 

Cons

  • The jointer’s fence may take some time to adapt since it is not entirely flat.

Jet 8-inch helical-Head Jointer

The Jet 8” is our first 8-inch capacity jointer to review, and it packs a punch for carpenters. The helical head jointer has an 8-inch cutting capacity and long beds to ensure it has enough space for various woods. The helical cutter heads help tone down the noise from jointers, plus they give a clean finish. 

This amazing jointer also comes with a powerful 2-hp motor, making working on any type of stock a breeze. The motor has a maximum speed of 5500 RPM, which increases the efficiency when working on large projects. The Jet 8” Jointer would have been at the top if weight was our top consideration. It weighs 456 pounds, so you need to think carefully before placing it in a workshop space. 

The infeed and outfeed tables are adjusted using the flywheels, and if you’re used to adjusting jointer tables, this feature removes the time spent turning the lever up and down to achieve the best location. Jet has added a 2-way tilting fence and chrome handwheels to make accurate adjustments, thanks to better adjusting solutions. 

Pros

  • Powerful and quiet performance 

  • Top-quality build 

  • Inbuilt dust port for dust collection

  • Easy fence and table adjustments 

  • Long cast-iron tables 

Cons

  • Tricky to operate for beginners 

POWERTEC BJ600 Bench Jointer With Built In Dust Collector

The BJ600 is an excellent benchtop jointer that brings a fine balance between performance and affordability. Its main highlight is the dust collection feature which keeps your workshop clean and tidy. All you need is a large-sized dust collection bag and a connection to the jointer. 

This “self-cleaning” model of Powertec jointer is perfect for carpenters with minimal woodworking area. However, if you plan to cut large pieces of wood, the Powertec can be an excellent option. The jointer’s infeed and outfeed table is made with cast iron, making it heavy equipment. Cast-iron is a common material used in commercial jointers as it provides a stable area for supporting heavy materials. 

When looking for the best jointers, you want something that can be a reliable tool in your woodworking arsenal. Sometimes you want to bevel-cut across a block of wood, and the best way is to use a fence that can tilt 45 degrees. The Powertec BJ600 fence titles freely to 45 degrees both inward and outward to allow you to cut through your wood. 

The BJ600 has a safety power-on feature, which is crucial, especially when around kids or in general areas like homes. This model’s power safety feature makes sure that you can only switch the power once you’ve unlocked the jointer, which reduces incidences of injury. 

One drawback of the Powertec BJ600 is its poorly written manual. The manual can be confusing, especially if you are a first-time user of Powertec machines. For instance, adjusting the outfeed and infeed tables might need a little tinkering, which is not written in the manual. And, you might need 6-inch Allen wrenches in 5 and 3 mm, which do not come with this machine. But, if you’re patient enough, you can handle these issues and grab yourself a bargain as it is way cheaper than the Jet 8-inch jointer.  

Some parts of the BJ600 are not as durable, and you might want to consider replacement after some time. 

Pros

  • It has a built-in dust collection system 

  • Safety power lock 

  • Affordable benchtop jointer

  • Adjustable fence 

  • Durable cast iron construction 

Cons

  • It doesn’t have the best manufacturing quality 

  • Unclear assembly manual 

CRAFTSMAN CMEW020 10-Amp Benchtop Jointer

This tool is a piece of adaptable equipment for general woodworking projects across different materials due to its reliable speed and motor power. The Craftsman benchtop jointer has a variable speed and allows you to choose from 6,000 and 11,000 RPM (cutting speed) and 12,000 to 22,000 RPM (cutting head). Choosing different speeds means you can easily switch from an easy task to a complex process in a few seconds. It also lengthens the lifespan of each knife since they are not subjected to one task the whole time. 

Like most benchtop jointers available, it consists of a two-knife cutter head with a jackscrew arrangement. This arrangement is easy to change and acts as a safety measure since there is less contact with the user. A heavy-duty 10-amp motor powers the knives. It has a durable construction, and you can be sure to have the jointer in your shop for years to come. 

The CMEW020 has a center-mounted fence of 4 ¼ inches, giving enough support for edge and regular jointing. 

Pros

  • Changing the knife cutter head is easy 

  • The jointer takes minimal space 

  • It has a lot of safety features 

  • You can choose different speed settings

Cons

  • It lacks helical patterned knives 

  • Poor construction of outfeed table 

Jet JJP-8BT 8-inch Jointer-Planer Combo Review

If a combo of planer and jointer is something you’ve thought of, then JET just made it a reality. This benchtop jointer planer combo model is the only 2 in 1 available in the market today. Plus, it gives you dual functionality at the same price point as similar tools in woodworking. 

The JJP-8BT is a perfect mid-tier machine, but its capacity and size make it perfect for hobbyists. So, if you have limited space in your garage, the jointer planer combo has a fitting dimension of 31” x 16 ½” x 18 ½”. In addition, it only weighs 58 lbs, and you can practically move it by yourself. 

The JJP-8BT may be smaller than most average jointers, but it sure does pack some power from the 13 amp motor rotating at a blade speed of 9000 RPMs. The two 8 ¼ knives are enough to supply 18,000 cuts per minute and perform most basic to intermediate woodworking projects. But this model can only be valuable if it cuts with the right precision. That said, the Jet 8” jointer planer has an adjustable aluminum fence and ergonomic knobs to make precise cuts a breeze. Since the fence and tabletop are aluminum, the combo machine is corrosion free and durable. 

We still have to acknowledge that the smaller size of this JET planer jointer combo limits the capacities of most projects as you only have access to a maximum depth and width of ⅛” x 8”. However, it has a sturdy cast aluminum table that can handle a maximum planing height of 4 ⅛”. 

The cord wraps ensure your workspace has not cluttered, and you can’t trip off them when moving around. It also increases their durability. 

Pros

  • Compact, space-saving design 

  • 2 in 1 functionality 

  • 13 Amp motor with 2 steel knives 

  • Ergonomic knobs 

  • Adjustable aluminum fence 

Cons

  • Cheap construction (lots of plastic parts) 

  • Not the largest 

Delta 37-071 Benchtop Jointer

The Delta 37-071 Benchtop Jointer is one of the most popular jointers in the market due to its price, useability, and strength. It has a beautiful design and does cutting and straightening perfectly. The materials used to make this jointer are strong and durable, making the equipment have a perfect balance. 

Delta did a great job on the infeed and outfeed table. The infeed table is positioned at the front of the machine to support the wood as you feed it to the cutter. The outfeed table does pretty much the same task as the infeed table. It is built with a dust collection system consisting of a dust blower ejector chip which removes debris and particles that may block during the process. 

The dust collection system is impressive and can take care of up to 70% of the sawdust. Dust blowers in most jointers will have a 50% removal rate. Since the jointer is made of cast iron, it is not lightweight. You'll have to deal with 78 pounds of weight when using the Delta 37-071. But weight is essential for balance. 

The portable benchtop jointer has a powerful motor with two blades and a cutting depth of ⅛ inches. The motor provides 12 Amp of power, although, for its size, a 15 Amp motor would be perfect. But, 12Amp is still above average and should easily cut hardwoods and exotic wood at a maximum speed of 10,000 RPM. The blades have a maximum 6-inch width and a jackscrew arrangement to make fast blade changes. 

The only drawback of purchasing this machine is that it is not easy to find replacement parts in case of a breakdown. But you can still get a few second-hand parts online if you don’t mind the longevity. 

Pros

  • Durable and heavy-duty cast iron design 

  • Adjustable positive stops at 90 and 45 degrees

  • Built-in dust blower 

  • 5 years limited warranty 

  • Adjustable fence for precision

Cons

  • A bit expensive 

  • Replacement parts are hard to find 

Oliver 4235 2HP 8” Jointer 

A glance at this machine will remind you of your school shop days when woodworking machines seem to last forever. This machine is made of a flare steel base for total stability and on top is a cast-iron skirt. It is clear that Oliver prioritized durability over portability when designing this line of jointers. The flexible fence slides back and forth on a nice assembly tube with a handwheel. 

The control panel of this jointer has a keyed lockout system that prevents unnecessary switching. Just like Laguna models, the on button glows green when switched on. The infeed and outfeed tables are flat and straight. 

The Oliver 4235 jointer has a maximum depth cut of ⅛” and helical knives cutting at a speed of 5,500 RPM. Motors operate with 2 horsepower and 240V of power, enough to cut hardwood and other types of wood. This model is quite heavy and definitely a machine suitable for commercial use. The 4235 jointer weighs 352 lbs. 

4235 jointer

Pros

  • Heavy-duty 2 horsepower motor 

  • Stable construction

  • An inbuilt dust collection system 

Cons

  • Too heavy 

POWERMATIC 54A Deluxe 6 Inch Jointer

Powermatic is a powerful model of jointer and can be used for medium to large-scale projects. This high-end jointer is one of the most functional tools with a 1 horsepower motor. It works with 115 volts or 230 volts, depending on how much power you have in your shop or garage. 

The size of a jointer is crucial to determine the kind of projects you can work on. Powermatic’s 54A has a 7 ¼ -inch wide outfeed table measuring 66 inches long. It is probably one of the longest tables in the market. Such size of a table allows for large board cutting and commercial projects as well. The table is also adjustable, and you can tune it to the required dimensions for use. 

Powermatic Deluxe 54A has three dual-edged knife cutter heads that guarantee precise cuts. All blades are sharp and can cut into your board with ease. So far, the Powermatic 54A is the only jointer on this list, with three knife blades offering smoother and cleaner cuts. The 6” jointer is not lightweight and weighs around 332 pounds. So, there is nothing that can move it once you have the machine in position. 

The 54A jointer is made with heavy-duty steel and has a cast-iron fence to top it off. Heavy steel is undoubtedly robust and offers better stability than other materials. Like most Powermatic products, this model has a safety push button that you can lock when the machine is not in use. It is an excellent protective feature in an environment with kids. 

This model features a non-slip V-belt for better power and enhanced performance, particularly in commercial woodworking projects. It has a dust port where you can install a bag to collect all debris and dust from woodworking. The machine is made to send the dust to the dust port when cutting automatically. 

Pros

  • Top-quality steel knives 

  • Dust collection system 

  • Heavy-duty 1 horsepower for big projects 

  • Three-knife cutter head 

  • Pure steel base for durability 

  • Extra-wide table 

  • Heavyweight for stability 

Cons

  • Challenging assemble process

  • Expensive 

Laguna JX8 Sheartec II Jointer

The first impression of this jointer is that it is a robust, well-built machine with precise details. It has long tables (1850 mm), which makes it a perfect choice for straightening and cutting long pieces of wood. As if that’s not enough, Laguna has added two rollers on each table end to extend the working length. 

The table is designed using a parallelogram system where no matter the movement, the distance between the cutter head and the table will remain the same. It is a unique way to adjust the tables. In addition, the Sheartec II has a built-in rebate table to increase the cutting depth during rebated molding processes. 

The jointer fence comes in heavy-duty cast-iron construction and is an adjustment for moving across the table. The tilt has a nice locking nut position of 90 degrees. There is a large on/off button with an easy to reach knock off bar to allow cutting power at any point in the machine. 

Since this jointer is built for commercial use, it boasts a huge 3-horsepower motor with a 15 amp power requirement. That means you can easily cut through wood and work continuously without slowing down the machine. 

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction

  • 3 horsepower motor 

  • Large extended tables 

  • Built-in rebate table

Cons

  • A bit expensive 

  • Not suitable for beginners 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between jointers and planers?

While both tools are made to level wood planks, they are used in different stages of the manufacturing process. Wood planers reduce the thickness of wood planks by sliding across the table while jointers square out edges and smoothen surfaces to become completely flat. 

What is the average price of a jointer?

A typical mid-level jointer’s cost will depend on its features, but it is likely going to cost you anywhere between $400 and $500. Commercial-grade jointers are the most expensive, ranging from $800 to $10,000+. 

Can I use a table saw instead of a jointer?

A table saw can be an excellent alternative when you don't have a jointer. You can use a table saw to square out the edges or make faces of wood flat. You need an extra skill set to perform these functions perfectly. 

Do you really need a jointer?

Absolutely! Most woodworkers will tell you that jointers are excellent at making surfaces smooth and flat. But, you may also need a planer to ensure both surfaces are parallel to each other.

Conclusion: Which Jointer Should You Buy?

If you are still unsure about the decision to buy a jointer, you might have to read this review more than once. These jointers are some of the best in the market, and they cut across all levels of carpentry. For instance, the Laguna JX8 Sheartec II jointer is a robust piece for large commercial projects. Its sturdy appeal means it lasts longer and handles all types of wood. However, it is not the best fit for newbies or folks with limited working space. 

The best benchtop jointer and our top pick are the PORTER-CABLE PC160JT 6” Jointer. It comes with the right specifications for beginners and advanced carpenters with a standard 6-inch blade and a variable speed setting. The variable speeds mean you can shift from a simple smoothing project to a hardwood cut without a hassle. It is one of our top recommendations because it has a friendly price tag that’s absolutely worth it.

All in all, you need to find a jointer that suits your needs, and as long as you check on the power, speed, cutting depth, warranty, and durability, you’re all set!