Restoring a Vintage Jointer

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Blog entry by BigBob posted 11-07-2008 06:49 PM 17520 reads 2 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of the machines on my wish list for my work shop was a jointer. I had a planer and wanted a big jointer to be able to save money on rough boards and to be able to mill to any size I needed fro my projects. The 8” jointers I was interested in were all thousands of dollars, way beyond my means. I started to research older cast iron machines and went searching for one I could restore.
I bought a 1950, Northfield 8 inch jointer on the “bay” for $800. The machine was just past Gettysburg, PA and I’m in Ft Myers Fl. The owner thought I was nuts, my wife already knows I’m nuts, so I loaded up and my trailer and headed out on a three day, 2000 mile road trip to claim my prize. This thing weighs 1150 lbs. so I made a cradle to bolt the machine to for the ride on my little utility trailer.
Here is the machine safe at home as I found it

I had to disassemble the machine to get it off the trailer. Just the base alone is over 300lbs. I took digital photos of the disassembly and carefully labeled and bagged parts and bolts together. The jointer was completely disassembled down to every last nut and bolt.
Northfield Foundry in Minnistoa is still in business, almost a hundred years now. They still make this jointer, not close, this one. They have every part available for it. They even have the part and service manuals online!
A new jointer from them is $10,400…....

Taking it apart

Once I had it apart, I carefully masked all machined areas with duct tape to protect it from the sand blaster.
I hauled the parts over to a guy who does this and then primed all the parts the same day to protect the parts.

Northfield uses a forest green color and they just told me to use a Rustoleum paint that I got from the bog box store. I sanded all the parts and painted them.

I painted the base and made a mobilre plarform for the machine. It has a plywood base with a one inch hardwood border aoriund the base of the machine, I made 3×3 inch UHVM plastic feet that I milled a 45degree bevel around and screwed it to the base. I can move the 1150lb machine by sliding it around the shop, but the friction from the feet hold it firmly unless I move it. Toal cost about $10 and some scraps.

Going back together

Northfield sent me all new decals.

Before the restoration

The pride of my shop, total cost including machine, travel, and restoration $ 1700.

Thanks for looking!

18 comments so far

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4268 days

#1 posted 11-07-2008 07:00 PM

That is one heavy duty machine. Great restoration job!!!!!

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4047 days

#2 posted 11-07-2008 07:25 PM

Great restoration job.


-- Hope Never fails

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3723 days

#3 posted 11-07-2008 08:07 PM

Sorry, but I’ve got to ask a few questions. How many hours did you put into this? Were all the parts in good working order or did you need to replace the motor, bearings, etc? Was the table flat before and after sandblasting? Just wondering if you had to remachine any of it.

this is a great project. Thanks for taking the time to blog it. I learn so much from this. GREAT WORK!

View BigBob's profile


64 posts in 3485 days

#4 posted 11-07-2008 08:44 PM

Great questions.
The restoration took me about 3 weeks to do . I’m guessing about 100 hrs. The jointer worked when I bought it, it had a new motor in it. I brought a Starrett straight edge with me and checked the tables.
Dead Flat.
The beds have dovetail shaped keys, so there are no adjustments. I did no machine work other than sending out the blades to be sharpened and polishing the beds. I talked to the people at Northfield ,and they told me that they still season their castings the same way. They throw them out in the snow for the winter and machine them in the spring!
He said they just do not move after that. The bearings are sealed. I cleaned them and put in all new grease fittings .
This jointer cuts dead flat, and glass smooth.

View Bob42's profile


456 posts in 3786 days

#5 posted 11-07-2008 08:53 PM

Great restoration job!!

When you turn it on do you still have power for the house?? That’s a monster.. An oldie but goodie.

Good luck with it.

-- Bob K. East Northport, NY

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3987 days

#6 posted 11-07-2008 08:56 PM

Very cool, congrats

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

770 posts in 3904 days

#7 posted 11-07-2008 09:07 PM

Very impressive, that machine will be around for many more years.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3958 days

#8 posted 11-07-2008 10:23 PM

That is a great machine, Bob. Now I know not to steer away from Northfield machinery. You are one lucky dog.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3723 days

#9 posted 11-07-2008 10:28 PM

cool. thanks for the answers. i don’t have room, but someday I will and maybe I’ll try something this ambitious. It looks like fun, even if it’s a lot of hard work.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3817 days

#10 posted 11-08-2008 12:49 AM

Bob, you did a wonderful job on the restoration. You have a quality machine that is well worth the time, effort and expense that went into it.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3699 days

#11 posted 11-08-2008 01:04 AM

Looks great!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3238 posts in 3708 days

#12 posted 11-08-2008 08:12 AM


That’s incredible! I’m green with envy.

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3881 days

#13 posted 11-08-2008 06:55 PM

Great job it really looks nice.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Praki's profile


199 posts in 3992 days

#14 posted 11-09-2008 05:46 AM

fantastic restoration. i think you have a really nice jointer for a nice price. I wish I could be nuts like you are :)

-- Praki, Aspiring Woodworker

View BigBob's profile


64 posts in 3485 days

#15 posted 11-10-2008 03:17 PM

Thanks eveyone, I had a good time restoring the machine and I think it has almost paid for itself because I can cut rough stock for a lot less than finished stock. The 8” wide bed handles just about all my needs and the rabbeting edge of the jointer cuts a very sharp rabbet.
I’m currently looking for a 32” Cresent band saw to do the same thing with. I really like these vintage tools.

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