Don't have a jointer?

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Blog entry by HighRockWoodworking posted 04-01-2010 02:37 AM 4883 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

How to get a straight edge on a rough cut board that has irregular sides without a jointer. I don’t have the space in my shop for all of the tools to make everyday task easy. My shop is in my garage and just not enough room for a jointer. For myself it works out most of the time because I plane and joint most of the boards for a project in my families shop up in north Carolina that I visit about once a month. But what do you do if you need a board right now? Well there are a few different options. If you know someone that has a jointer you could always ask to bring your boards over to run them through their jointer or your area may have a community workshop that is available. But if these are not options there are a few tricks that can help.
The first way is to mark the edge you want to straighten with a straight edge and marker or use a chalk box to mark longer boards. Once you have a good line to go by clamp the board on its edge and use a hand plane or hand held electric planer to remove wood down to your line. This seems like a difficult task with a hand planer but you will find a well honed hand plane can make quick work of it. Once straight you can run the board through a table saw to rip to width.
Another method that I like is to take a straight edge and with a hot glue gun tack it to one side of the board. Once set just run the board with the straight edge against the fence through the table saw. This is my preferred method as the hot glue only takes seconds to dry. With a light tap the straight edge comes right off leaving nothing behind on board.

Chris Adkins

-- Chris Adkins,

14 comments so far

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


475 posts in 3622 days

#1 posted 04-01-2010 03:09 AM

Look here for a suggestion of using your router table as a jointer.

Here is how I jointed the boards for a big table top using a straight edge and a router.

Hope this helps.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View dbhost's profile


5708 posts in 3226 days

#2 posted 04-01-2010 03:12 AM

Depending on the thickness of the material being jointed, there are several router / router table techniques. The simplest of which is using a known good straight edge as a “pattern” and using a pattern cutting bit…

Another method would be to build a jointing sled for the table saw that would clamp the board in place along a known straight edge, and rip it straight.

Of course you could use a bench top jointer (my method), that you can stack on a wall, or up on a shelf when done…

Likewise I like your known straight edge / hot glue trick. I’ve used that one myself a couple of times as well. Works pretty well…Similar to the sled idea, but more easily stowed.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#3 posted 04-01-2010 03:33 AM

make a line
then handsaw/handplane
or skillsaw with straightboard/handplane

View Mikeyf56's profile


171 posts in 3215 days

#4 posted 04-01-2010 03:37 AM

Chris, I like the hot glue tip. I have used double-faced tape but it seems that the glue wold hold better. Thanks for the tip!

-- Powered by Smith & Wilson~~~

View alexsutula's profile


96 posts in 3048 days

#5 posted 04-01-2010 05:01 AM

I use something like this to get a reasonable straight edge before I go to the jointer. It’s a real big time saver. And there are a lot fewer steps to this method than the ones you outlined above.

-- You can't stand apart unless you're prepared to stand alone. Alex, Cleveland

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3067 days

#6 posted 04-01-2010 07:10 AM

I used methods like you describe for most of my woodworking life. I never invested in a jointer until I started building small boxes with dovetail joints where the tolerence for square and flat is much smaller than for cabinet work where I mostly glued solid boards to pieces of plywood.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3350 days

#7 posted 04-01-2010 01:59 PM

I always did it with a router table. It’s easy as pie. You need to make one fence specifically for that and you’ll always have a jointer. Glue a piece of vertical grade laminate on the left side of the fence, simple as that… Remember your fence needs to be straight, and the longer the better.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3230 days

#8 posted 04-01-2010 02:09 PM

Use a ripping sled on the table saw to start and then go to the router table.

-- Alex

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3335 days

#9 posted 04-01-2010 02:32 PM

the first time i ever saw this done ,
i had picked out a 4/4 rough 16’ board ,
and mentioned that i needed a straight edge on it .
the mill man said ’ no prob ’ .
he took a 16’ straight and parallel glue up from 3/8” ply ( 2 layers , staggered joints ) ,
and moved the fence over on the table saw ,
and placed my board ( crown out ) against it ,
and adjusted the fence to just catch the front corner of my board ,
and holding both to each other ,and to the fence ,
ran them both together thru the saw .
( they did have a long outfeed table ) ,
and as long as the two contact points were toghether ,
and one does not ride over or under the other ,
it works just fine .
i use this method on job sites all the time .

in the boat yards ,
we used a straight edge with formica on the edge ,
placed and clamped under the work ,
and used a flush trim bit to run the edge ,
this works great too .
just don’t try and hog everything at once ,
don’t want to get behind the grain ,
and have it rip out , easy does it !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4119 days

#10 posted 04-01-2010 07:00 PM

I’m amused when people wonder that I don’t have a table saw in my shop, but then talk about the gyrations they go through to do this particular cut: Just clamp your rail to your wood, and run your circular saw down it. Poof, jointable straight edge, no fuss and, if your dust collection is decent, no muss.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3285 days

#11 posted 04-01-2010 07:30 PM

How do you do your dust collection on a circular saw?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4119 days

#12 posted 04-01-2010 07:40 PM

Dust collector vacuum hose hooks to the back of the circular saw. Find your local Festool dealer and ask for a demo (although DeWalt and Makita also make similar saws, the Festool dealer is more likely to let you actually cut wood and demo the tools).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3285 days

#13 posted 04-01-2010 07:54 PM

Short answer: “Festool”. ;o)

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3130 days

#14 posted 04-02-2010 12:05 AM

I like to use this on my table saw for edge jointing anything shorter than about 44”:
The T-Track is loose in the miter gauge slot so good results require some pressure to hold the track against the blade side of the slot, but not so much pressure that the T-Track deflects.

For edges up to about 6’ I’m thinking about making a fixture about 6’ long and a bit wider than the distance between the miter slot and the TS blade. The idea is for the top of the fixture to have clamps to hold a 6’ level with the edge of the level proud from the edge of the fixture. The fixture will also clamp to the top of the work at the ends of the work. The fence would be adjusted so the hooks of the clamps that protrude from the bottom of the work will pass through the miter slot, and the blade height adjusted so it only cuts a little into the bottom of the fixture. This way the cut is guided by the edge of the level against the fence, and if the level comes away from the fence at any point the cut can be fixed simply by running it through again. If I try this I’ll post a picture which will certainly be easier to understand than that description!

-- Greg D.

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