What is a jointer?

If you're a woodworker, odds are you're already familiar with a jointer – they come in all shapes and sizes, but are essential in creating flat, straight boards that are essential for all kinds of projects. Yet, while we all know they exist, how many of us can confidently answer the question: "What is a jointer?" And even if you can, do you know how to use one? Well, consider this your definitive guide to all things jointer related, as we explore what it is, what it does, and how to get the most out of it for your woodworking projects. Let's get started!

Quick Recap

A jointer tool is used to even out and straighten rough edges on lumber. It smoothes, flattens and squares boards by cutting away small amounts of material for an even finish.

What is a Jointer?

A jointer is a power tool used in woodworking to create a perfectly flat surface on wood, as well as an accurate edge for joining two pieces of wood together. It has a long, flat table that you place your wood onto, and the blades cut away any imperfections or warping by grinding it down so that it is flat and even. There are two types of jointers – straight and spiral head. In the debate between which type is better, those who favor the spiral head argue that they are better at cutting in hard-to-reach areas, like corners and edges, while those who prefer straight head jointers claim they produce more precise cuts, although it may take longer when dealing with intricate shapes.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what a jointer is and what it does, let's discuss the different types of jointers and their uses in woodworking projects.

Types of Jointers

When it comes to woodworking projects, jointers have many uses. Jointers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used in combination with other tools to create attractive, professional-looking furniture pieces. There are several different types of jointers that should be considered when starting a woodworking project, each one offering its own advantages and drawbacks.

The three primary types of jointers are straight edge or 'hands', jack, and thickness planer. The hands jointer features two horizontal blades, joined together by an angled fence for cutting and finishing the edge of a workpiece. Jack jointers are similar to hands jointers but feature a wider range of widths and depths, making them ideal for shaping larger pieces. Finally, the thickness planer uses a single blade that rises up from a bed to cut stock into desired thicknesses without warping the surface.

Each type of jointer has its own benefits; some may be more suited to certain projects than others. For example, smaller projects might benefit most from a hands jointer due to its versatility and ease of use. Similarly, those working on large lumber pieces would be best off using a jack jointer as they offer a wider selection of dimensions. On the other hand, the thickness planer is ideal for consistently cutting stock into even thicknesses while still keeping the surfaces level and smooth. Ultimately, it is important to consider all factors when selecting a jointer for specific woodworking projects.

Understanding the different types of jointers is half the battle when it comes to successful woodworking projects. In the following section we will explore how these tools actually work so that you can make an informed decision when becoming familiar with this essential tool in any woodworker's arsenal.

How Does a Jointer Work?

A joiner, also known as a jointer, is an important power tool used in woodworking projects. It is used to create a smooth surface by removing small amounts of material along the grain of the wood. Jointers are designed with a flat table and a vertical cutting head, which is powered by a motor. The cutting head has two rotating blades that rotate along the table as the wood passes over them.

The first step in using a jointer is to set its blades to the desired cut depth. This can be done by adjusting the blades’ height relative to the table surface. Generally, for best results, the blade should be set just below the thickness of the wood being jointed. Once adjusted, each board is carefully placed on the jointer’s table, with one side against one of the cutter blades. Forcibly pushing down on (or in some cases running) the board ensures proper feeding into the cutting head and that it does not move during cutting. As it moves through the machine, the cutting head creates a smooth and even surface on both sides of each board.

The final step before moving onto other steps in your project is usually to “joint off” both edges of your boards in order to achieve perfect squareness. Jointers are capable of creating precisely cut ends that match perfectly when joined together by butt-fitting or mortise-and-tenon joints and other joinery techniques.

Jointers provide reliable and safe performance as long as they are operated correctly and given professional care and maintenance throughout their lifetime. It should be noted that while most professionals prefer to use jointers versus planers, there are still those who believe planers offer more control and accuracy when jointing boards together. Whatever your preference may be, it’s important to learn how jointers work so you can make an informed decision about which tool works best for you and your project before investing in one.

Once you understand how jointers work, it’s time to move onto exploring how jointers operate and function within different types of woodworking projects.

Operation and Function of Jointers

Jointers are a unique tool for woodworking projects. They can be used to smooth, flatten, and square boards in order to join them more easily into larger pieces. The primary function of the jointer is to cut a flat surface on an edge or face by removing wood material from the board. This operation ensures that the surface is parallel with the edge. Jointers have either two or three blades that extrude from the cutter head and rotate at high speeds spinning against each other. Depending on the model, this cutting power can range from 8,000-12,000 RPM (Rotations Per Minute).

The first step to flattening a board is setting up your work piece onto the bed of your jointer. It's important to check that your board is properly secured before starting the machine. The infeed and outfeed tables should be set according to your desired width of the board. You then need to use some muscle power to push your stock until it passes through the cutterhead below table level. When you pass through the machine, all rough surfaces should be eliminated and you’ll see perfectly square edges all around for easy assembly and jointing.

While jointers are great tools for creating flat surfaces, they also can be used to create curved and arched profiles along a straight edge using a technique known as jointing cove moldings. By using slightly different angles on both infeed and outfeed tables, you can create curvatures along straight edges that would otherwise be impossible to do without special tools or machines like routers or shapers. This method allows you to achieve more complex details in your work piece without having to buy extra tools and machines which saves valuable time and money.

Jointers can be a powerful asset when used correctly; however improper use can lead to major disasters that could ruin an entire project or worse, cause injury. Therefore it's important to familiarize yourself with safety precautions before using this type of machine such as wearing protective equipment, ensuring proper fencing and guards around all moving parts, etc. With some basic know-how and practice, a jointer can help bring any woodworking project up to the next level in terms of accuracy and precision.

The next section will discuss "What Does Jointer Do?". To operate safely and effectively, it is imperative for woodworkers understand various components of the jointer tool including its sizes, functions, setup process, sharpening techniques, maintenance tips and more.

What Does a Jointer Do?

A jointer is a woodworking tool that is used to create smooth and consistent surfaces along the edges and faces of boards. This tool is usually used before the boards are cut into the required lengths and widths, as it ensures they line up perfectly while also preventing pieces from warping over time. Jointers come in two main categories: stationary jointers and handheld jointers.

Stationary jointers are often circular in shape and feature a built-in motor. They also have several cutting knives which allow them to precisely plane wide boards down to size. While stationary jointers provide more power and accuracy, they can take up a lot of space in a workshop. Handheld jointers are smaller, portable tools that are ideal for small or single-stage projects. They include light-duty models such as planers and block planes as well as heavier duty tools like routers and biscuit joiners.

There can be debate about which kind of jointer is better suited for what kinds of woodworking projects. Those who favor stationary jointers point out their power and consistency, while those who prefer handheld jointers stress their portability and ease of use. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your individual project needs and preferences.

At the end of the day, both types of jointers serve an important role in woodworking by creating clean edges, flat surfaces, and consistent thicknesses throughout all your projects. Therefore, regardless of which type you choose to invest in, you'll find plenty of use in your woodworking journey. And now that we understand better how these power tools work let’s look at how they’re used more specifically in woodworking projects. Next we will be discussing how jointers are used in woodworking projects.

Jointers Used in Woodworking Projects

Jointers are essential tools used in woodworking projects. They are primarily used to flatten, edge joint, and face joint pieces of rough sawn lumber. Using a jointer to prepare stock for projects prevents potential problems that can arise from work done with saws and hand planes. It's fast, safe, and efficient when compared to other methods of preparation.

Woodworkers often debate the necessity of using a jointer in the construction of woodworking projects. On one side, those who support the use of jointers agree that they are necessary because they help ensure that surfaces are planed perfectly smooth with nothing morethan a gentle pass over the jointer’s cutter head. This saves time and effort that would otherwise be put into tedious sanding or plane work. Additionally, jointers produce perfect angular edges which guarantee quick and accurate assembly.

On the other side of the argument however, some woodworkers prefer to prepare their wood without the use of a jointer. The most significant argument against jointers is that they are an expensive purchase for the average hobbyist or amateur woodworker who may feel that their skills are sufficient without investing in the tool. Furthermore, since the process needs to take place on long boards - difficult for some smaller shops – this may also make it less favorable for amateur craftsmen who rely more on hand tools for their purposes.

Whether or not one prefers to employ a jointer in their projects is purely up to individual preference and skill level. Nevertheless, there no denying the advantages jointers provide when it comes to creating accurate and consistent results. Which brings us to our next topic: the advantages of using a jointer for woodworking projects.

Advantages of Using a Jointer

One of the primary advantages of using a jointer is that it allows woodworkers to create flat, even surfaces and edges. Jointers have powerful cutting blades that are designed to remove large amounts of material with each pass, which means you can flatten boards quickly and easily. Plus, the added smooth surface created by a jointer also makes it much easier to attach pieces together since there are no rough edges for glue or clamps to snag on. This helps reduce the possibility of your projects falling apart due to a poor glue joint or misaligned boards.

Other advantages include being able to quickly create straight edges, planing rough lumber into manageable stock for projects, reducing the need for other tools like sanders, and giving woodworkers greater control over their project designs. That said, some woodworkers may not find it beneficial to invest in a jointer. They can be expensive pieces of equipment and will add clutter to an already full shop. Additionally, due to the necessary upkeep and maintenance, many prefer to skip jointers altogether in favor of alternate tools or methods that still yield similar results without all the hassle.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to your own level of expertise, desired results, and available time and budget constraints when making decisions about whether or not buying a jointer makes sense for your projects.

In conclusion, a jointer provides numerous advantages including quick and easy flattening of boards along with creating straight edges, improved control over project designs, and elimination of possible weak glue joints due to its smooth surfaces. However, it is important to weight the pros against the cons before making any decision about investing in one for your shop or space. In the next section we will focus on how to make that decision by looking at factors such as tool cost and availability as well other options available for achieving uniformity in woodworking projects.

To help inform our decision in this regard, let’s move onto the conclusion which looks at how best to choose a jointer for woodworking projects.


Using a jointer correctly is an essential step in successful woodworking projects. Not only does it create straight, flat surfaces needed for accurate cuts, but it also helps ensure that pieces fit together tightly and uniformly. For previously shaped stock, a jointer can be used to square off rough edges or smooth out any cups or bumps in the surface. When selecting a jointer, consider both the size of the machine and its features to make sure it is suitable for both your needs and skill level.

When using the jointer, remain mindful of safety considerations such as wearing protective clothing, maintaining a good grip on the material as it passes through, and stopping the power immediately if anything unexpected happens. At each setup of the jointer, take time to make small adjustments to ensure accuracy and repeatability. Understanding how to use the fence, knives, infeed table, outfeed table and setting proper heights will help maximize achievement at each pass. Additionally, using sharp knives is an absolute must when using a jointer to achieve optimal results with minimal effort.

Using a jointer is an important part of becoming a proficient woodworker. With patience and practice, anyone can develop their skills to use a jointer accurately and efficiently for professional grade results in their projects.

Responses to Common Questions with Explanations

What kind of cut does a jointer produce?

A jointer produces a straight edge cut. This type of straight edge cut is needed to create strong and reliable joints, allowing for a clean and even fit between adjacent pieces of wood. The straight edge cut made by the jointer ensures that each jointed piece is precisely the same size, allowing for easy assembly of the finished project. The cuts produced with a jointer are typically more precise than those made by hand tools like chisels and saws, which can lead to gaps in construction or make it difficult to assemble projects that require an exact fit.

What types of materials can a jointer work with?

A jointer is an important tool for any woodworking project. It's used to plane and cut the surface of a piece of lumber - which can be made from a variety of materials including hardwoods, softwoods, plywood, and even laminated wood. The jointer is also particularly useful for making straight edges on lumber so that adjacent boards can fit together flush and tight for cleaner looking joints. Jointer blades are sharp enough to cut through most types of wood with ease, though extra caution should be taken when handling denser materials like hardwood or laminates as these may require a slower speed or additional blade maintenance.

How do I use a jointer to get a smooth edge?

Using a jointer to get a smooth edge is fairly straightforward. First, make sure your jointer’s blades are sharp and properly aligned. Then, feed the wood into the jointer with the factory-cut edge leading in first. This will ensure that the jointer takes as even a cut as possible. To get a perfectly smooth edge, turn the depth of cut down to its lowest setting, which will allow you to make multiple passes on the same piece of wood until you reach the desired smoothness. Once you’ve achieved your desired result, pass the wood through at least one more time to be sure and double check that your edges are smooth to the touch.

What is the role of a jointer in woodworking?

A jointer is an essential tool in woodworking projects. It is used to straighten and flatten boards, level uneven edges, and prepare timber for assembly. It is also used to perform rabbeting, beveling, chamfering and edge jointing operations. The jointer works by cutting away small amounts of material from the board’s edges or faces with a rotating cutter head. This helps create a smooth surface with two perfectly parallel edges so they can be joined together easily. By trimming the edges or faces at an angle, it also allows for better adhesion between pieces. By using a jointer, woodworkers can create precise joints, finish boards more quickly, and produce results that look expertly crafted.

What safety precautions should I take when using a jointer?

When using a jointer it is essential to take the necessary safety precautions. Before you begin, make sure to wear the appropriate protective equipment, including safety glasses and hearing protection.

It is important to understand how the jointer works and to read the operating manual before attempting to use the machine. This can help to prevent operating the machine incorrectly and causing any possible harm to yourself or surrounding area.

Whenever you are changing blades, turn off the jointer’s power switch, unplug it from the wall, and wait for all moving parts to come to a complete stop, this includes allowing time for the blade to cool down. When handling blades always wear gloves during removal and replacement of cutters and clean each cutter before reinstalling.

Also keep in mind that your hands should be kept away from the cutter head of the jointer at all times. Additionally, make sure that you readjust fence settings properly before starting up again, as an inaccurate fence setting can cause kickbacks or other dangerous situations.

Finally, never stand directly behind the stock when feeding it in so that if a kickback were to occur you will be able to easily identify it’s presence and address it right away.

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