Beginning Woodworker Just Starting Out #1: My First Attempt at Jointing

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Blog entry by Jimi_C posted 08-14-2009 04:19 AM 1280 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Beginning Woodworker Just Starting Out series Part 2: My First Wood Purchase and Adventures in Hand Planing »

Hi all, my first wood working blog entry. I’ve been looking to start getting into wood working for almost a year now, since I got a $6500 quote for stock cabinets for my tiny kitchen and thought, “They’re just plywood boxes!” So, I’ve started collecting tools slowly, but surely (slowly due to the fact that my wife and I are still paying off our wedding from last year!). I’ve passed the time reading books on cabinet making, wood working in general, and a really nice book on joints, and compiling a list of online resources for when I was finally ready to go.

Last night, I finally bought what I consider my first major purchase: A Ridgid JP06100 jointer. This is a slightly older model of the one currently sold at HD, with the only difference seemingly the color of the lower stand/cabinet (gray vs. orange). I got this for $225, with a spare set of blades, so I think I got an OK deal on it. The seller was great, letting me take a few passes on some scrap white oak he had lying around, for which I was really grateful. Having never used a jointer, I’d probably have been a bit nervous trying it out for the first time at home. He was very safety conscious, and gave me a lot of pointers on how to keep all my digits in place :) So I got it home and unloaded with the help of a friend, but didn’t get a chance to play with it until tonight. The seller let me keep a couple of scraps to practice on, so I went out tonight to try and square off my first board.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my first full attempt. The scrap I was working on had a hellacious bow to it, so I kicked the jointer up to 1/16” and started working on the edge till it was squared off (still took 4-6 passes to get it chewing off wood for the whole edge). Then I notched it back down to 1/32” and flattened a face. I don’t have a proper straight edge, just a large T-square from my school days, but it seems to have done a pretty good job. I held the edge of the T-square to each end of the board edge and held it up to a light, and could only see a small, even line. Same thing for the face of the board I flattened. Putting it on tables and other random things around the house (yes, the wife was laughing at me…), it seems to sit flat and doesn’t rock at all.

For the bad, I can see small waves in the board when I check the surface, so I’m probably still moving the board too fast. They’re only noticeable when holding the board up at an angle to the light, so a good sanding would most likely take that down. On one edge, I can see there’s a small deflection, so I probably put too much pressure over or just behind the cutting head when flattening the face near that edge, so I’ll have to be more attentive and keep the push blocks in the center of the face without pushing down too hard. I over research everything, so I know you’re not supposed to force the face down, so the jointer can do its work (otherwise you just carve out the bow, and it returns when you let the pressure off).

So, I declare victory for my first attempt :) The main thing I was trying to avoid was sniping the ends of either face, and I seem to have done that pretty well. I don’t see any major tear-out either, and the two squared edges are (to me) pretty smooth. A local wood distributor sells soft maple for $2.00 a BF, so I’m going to head there Saturday and try to pick up some more practice wood :) Now I just need to start scanning Craigslist for a thickness planer…

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

8 comments so far

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 2708 days

#1 posted 08-14-2009 05:01 AM

Sounds like you’re doing the right thing and that is getting used to your jointer. You will get a feel for it with time and remember that it will perform a little differently with different type woods. The slight wave you notice could be that one of the knives is set a little different than the other two. You said he gave you an extra set of knives with the jointer. Do you know if he had changed them since he owned it? If so, I wonder how he set them. Doesn’t really matter, but you will change them at some time in the future and will have to learn how to properly set the knives at that time. Good luck with your new tools and good luck with the kitchen cabinets. That’s how I got started in woodworking years ago…...A lady asked me if I could build kitchen cabinets and I said “Sure”! So I went out and bought a book on how to build kitchen cabinets. She’s still a good friend and good customer, so I guess they turned out OK. We will look forward to your post and pictures as you do your cabinets.

-- John @

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 2658 days

#2 posted 08-14-2009 05:13 AM

Thanks for the comment huff. The previous owner seemed very knowledgeable, and recommended that I use some rare earth magnets on top of a piece of plate glass to bring the blades to the correct height when tightening them down. He had definitely put new blades on it, but he said it had been a while so the existing ones may be a little dull. The wave is barely noticeable like I said, so it could very easily be my inexperience. I need to get a proper straight edge, once I do I’ll check all three blades at both ends to make sure they’re still aligned.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View jcsterling's profile


420 posts in 3008 days

#3 posted 08-14-2009 03:44 PM

sounds like you have done your research well although I would do the face first and then joint the edge perpendicular. I’m sure that you have read that you should mark the face and edge so that you can always reference these on fences and table top when milling. Doing this will help eliminate small descrepencies that compound themselves during the building process. If I were you I would build a small standalone cabinet to familiarize yourself with building before you attempt a whole kitchen.

-- John , Central PA , on facebook:!/pages/JC-Sterling-fine-furniture/104430802928776

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#4 posted 08-14-2009 04:26 PM

sounds like a good start.

like John mentioned -you should flatten a face first before jointing the edge – this will give you a flat face that can ride easily against the fence for a more precise and controlled operation.

the waves are probably one knife that is set higher than the rest – I would recommend taking the time to align all knifes when you can – this can be a frustrating experience, but it’ll add a lot to your experience and understanding of this tool. other than that – a #4 smoothing hand plane can take care of those ripples better than sanding, and also can yield a smoother surface than a jointer can ever produce. (just something to consider – food for thought)

now go and have some fun… isnt it excising when things work and you can get flat surfaces on wood? :)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View gizmodyne's profile


1768 posts in 3513 days

#5 posted 08-14-2009 04:34 PM

A few pointers.

I try to avoid pressure above the cutter for the reason you said and I just don’t put my hands there. Put the pressure on the infeed side and then transfer to outfeed after the wood passes over cutter.

As said above joint face first. Once you get the surfacer/ planer, I recommend flattening one face then surfacing to thickness or to parallel at least before jointing the edges. That way you have more options for how to run your piece through the jointer. If both faces are true and parallel then you have four different ways to joint. Often you won’t notice the grain or be able to decide which edge to trim until you have those clean surfaces. So joint one face , surface the other, then joint edge and sqaure up on table saw.

Be safe. (Take a class if you can).

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 2658 days

#6 posted 08-14-2009 08:14 PM

@gizmodyne: I only have my hands above the cutting blade when doing a face, not an edge (and then only with push blocks of course). When doing an edge, I was told to keep my fingers a hands-width away from both sides of the cutting blade, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

Flattening the face and then planing definitely sounds like the best procedure, as soon as I get a thickness planer I’ll try it out :)

@PurpLev: After re-reading a few books that discuss jointing, I’m thinking the marks I mentioned are just normal machining marks, and would be easily finished out with a sander or scraper. They also say doing the edge or face first are pretty much interchangeable, but it does seem like the better approach to do the face first.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 08-14-2009 08:45 PM

Jimi – that is correct, a surface after going through a jointer or planer – as good as it’ll look will always have (as minor as may be) ripples, since it is being cut by several cutters taking chunks one at a time as opposed to a continuous shave – which is how hand planes operate. this is why a surface that was worked using hand planes or a scraper will always be smoother than one that just received power tool treatment. the reason I’m bringing up hand planes as opposed to sanding, is that sanding is an abrasive and what it does is scuff up the surface – even when done with very fine abrasives, it’s still a surface that is scuffed (to a smaller degree than our eyes can see). but a plane will actually shave the surface to a truly smooth and even surface.

the most obvious and visible example to this would be planing/paring endgrain which will immediately show you the glass smooth and shiny surface as opposed to sanding endgrain – which leaves a dull surface.

well… I guess I got carried away, but bottom line is – you’re correct. a jointer WILL leave a rippled surface – but if your jointer is setup properly you shouldn’t be able to notice it with your naked eye – if you do, chances are that one of the knives is higher up.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View AaronK's profile (online now)


1437 posts in 2887 days

#8 posted 08-25-2009 03:31 PM

can’t comment on the jointing process, since i dont have one, but i will echo the comment about the hand planing – with 2 or 3 planes (can be had cheap if you get old antique stanleys on ebay and work em) you will be much better off in terms of taking care of mill-marks and trimming things off here and there.

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