Operation Holtzapffel #5: Yup, that's sharp...

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Blog entry by Damian Penney posted 03-13-2008 03:28 AM 1465 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Time for a trip to the sharpener Part 5 of Operation Holtzapffel series Part 6: Making Progress »

So I got my jointer blades back from the sharpener, Standard Saw Works, and they did a great job. It’s a cool store too and one of the storefront window displays is full of old wooden planes (I didn’t get a pic)

Once I got the blades back to the workshop I set about reinstalling them. My usual method is to use my dial indicator and twiddle with them for hours on end getting them just right but this time I tried a new approach which worked really well.

After I’d dropped the blades off to be sharpened I swung by Ace Hardware and picked up six small rare earth magnets. The plan was to stick them to something flat and use the magnets to align the blades to the outfeed table. Here is my alignment setup.

Jointe Alignment Gear

It’s pretty low tech but it worked really well, so much easier than all the messing about with the dial indicator. The process was as follows.

First I used my dial gauge to make sure all the magnets were the same width, they were all exactly the same which was nice. I then attached them to something nice and flat. On the far side by the fence I’m using the bottom of my combination square, and at the front I’m using a big allen key.

Magnetic Jointer Alignment

I found top dead center of the jointer head using the dial indicator and then moved the blades to that position. Then it was a simple matter of sliding the magnets over the blade which attached itself to the underside of the magnets. Tighten the screws to keep the blade in place et voila! Perfectly aligned with no messing about.

So that worked really well until I was tightening the final screw, on the final blade when…. I slipped…

Bloody Thumb

A nice deep, clean cut ensued. Luckily the blades were razor sharp so it didn’t really hurt and it hit my nail which prevented the blade from going too deep, still a tad scary, as all shop accidents are though :)

Anyway the final result was worth it.

Smooth Board

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

11 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4002 days

#1 posted 03-13-2008 03:44 AM

ouch. at least your jointer’s working great. thanks for the post.

View FrankA's profile


139 posts in 4013 days

#2 posted 03-13-2008 03:49 AM

Great setup idea, I have this job coming up real soon myself.
I will be using your system.

-- Frank Auge---Nichols NY----"My opinion is neither copyrighted nor trademarked, but it is price competitive."

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4348 days

#3 posted 03-13-2008 04:19 AM

Looks like you did a good on setting those knives. I use Jointer Pals to set my knives. They don’t cost too much and work really well. It’s time I send my knives out to be sharpened. I’ve ran a lot wood over my jointer and through my planer.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4056 days

#4 posted 03-13-2008 04:21 AM


Thanks for the post. I am glad to see that your jointer is working like new again. I have tried several methods for setting up my jointer knives, and while they worked, I have not been satisfied with the process. I will try using the rare earth magnets the next time I re-set my knives. The process looks interesting and quick.

Sorry about the thumb, but it will heal.

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

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4108 days

#5 posted 03-13-2008 04:30 AM

Sweeeeeet idea for blade height!!! I have yet to change my jointer blades and have been wondering how I should go about it. I almost went out and bought a magnetic jig. I am so glad I saw this first! Thanks for the tip. Oh yea, and joint the wood. Not your finger. (Sorry, ouch!)

-- Happy woodworking!

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 4225 days

#6 posted 03-13-2008 04:51 AM

The one thing I’d add next time to this setup is a thin piece of plastic under the magnets; the blades really want to snap up against the magnets which if you’re not careful could blunt them all over again.

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

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4222 days

#7 posted 03-13-2008 04:54 AM


-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4328 days

#8 posted 03-13-2008 04:56 AM

That is a great, effective idea Damian. I too have to get my sharpened. Since you have been through the process now, what do you think about the idea of using some high density foam like that used for home insulation glued to a piece of scrap (which may not even be necessary) to hold the whole thing still while the final tightening of the allen screws? I’ve wondered how I would keep the same thumb accident from occurring. Lucky we have fingernails, huh?

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4231 days

#9 posted 03-13-2008 06:07 AM

I’m glad you got the knives back in the jointer and got it tuned! Sorry about the slice…you really took one for the team…the LJ Allstars – where everyone’s a star…okay, I got to quit…looking forward to the return of progress on the bench! Though I realize getting the jointer tuned IS progress toward the bench!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4214 days

#10 posted 03-13-2008 02:16 PM


Looks like a great idea. Those magnet sure do come in handy.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View coolbreeze's profile


104 posts in 3969 days

#11 posted 03-14-2008 04:28 AM


That’s a good idea, man. I’m going to put the square level back where it belongs. The plastic edge has been shaved more than I have. My indicator needs to go on the fridge..cause I can’t use it to save my life. Thanks for the sacrifice.

-- Jason, AL

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