A good jointer for a newbie?

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Forum topic by mazzy posted 06-01-2011 02:57 PM 7388 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mazzy's profile


56 posts in 2757 days

06-01-2011 02:57 PM


I’m new to woodworking and am cruising Craigslist in search for a good jointer. The names I recognize are Delta and Rockwell. What brands should I look for and what size (4”, 6” 8”)? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


-- Mazzy, San Francisco Bay Area,

11 replies so far

View neandernormite's profile


37 posts in 2750 days

#1 posted 06-01-2011 03:15 PM

Depends on what you want to make and what you space and price requirements are. If going the power jointer route, which I’m seriously considering selling mine since flatten by hand pretty much all the time now, stay away from the 4” and bench top guys if you can. You want at least 6” with 8” being preferred. Brands to keep and eye out for, powermatic, jet, general, older delta, the ridgid 6” is actually great for the price, and grizzly’s stuff isn’t bad for the price. If buying used add in the price of new knives as it will probably need them, anywhere from $20-$100 depending on what brand you get and what size. Also, when looking at a used machine I would recommend taking a straight edge with you, check the beds make sure they’re flat, make sure they lock and adjust well, make sure the fence is flat. Don’t want to get home and realize that screaming deal you got isn’t so much of a deal since you have a very large paperweight. If you find any specific model your looking at throw it out here, I’m sure you get plenty of help.

-- The confused powertool using galoot

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3640 days

#2 posted 06-01-2011 03:27 PM

Mazzy….....If you are considering an older jointer I would stick with USA made. The size of the jointer will kind of depend on the type of woodworking you do. I would have to say that bigger is better when it comes to jointers but you have to remember bigger will reguire more floor space as well as electrical requirements. I think a good size would be 8”.

If looking at CL take a look for older Delta/Rockwell or even better Powermatic. Both can be picked up for a good price and with a little elbow grease can be brought back into service. You will most likely have change bearings in the motor and cutter head and eother replace or sharpen blades. If possible run the machine and joint a few boards. Take a straight edge and check for table sag, which older machines may suffer from. Table sag is due to metal fatigue and will not itself make a jointer unusable and can be fixed with shims. Also look at the tables for flatness, especially the INFEED table. The fence should also be square to the table and easily adjusted.

Depending on your area and availability of tools, I would expect a good used older Powermatic 60 to run in the $300-$500 range. look for the older pea green or metallic green era. Those are made in the USA and not in China. The newer yellow are all made in China. The older Delta/Rockwell jointers would be my second choice and are usually readily available for a decent price. The 6” Delta is a very popular machine and most were available with an open bolt together stand and should be in $100-$200 range and often much less. Delta did also make a larger 8” on an enclosed cast iron stand and if found at a decent price will closely rival the Powermatic in quality and price.

Cutter heads need not be of major concern unless they are “clamshell”. The old clamshell was found on OLD, 1900 era machines and are very dangerous. If you run across one and dont want to deal with it it can be retrofitted with a newer head. I personally dont think the spiral heads are necessary on a jointer, or planer for that matter, a jointer is NOT a finishing machine, but a rough machine for squaring stock. I dont see the need and think its another gimick for manufacturers to sell machines. Now the sprial heads do have some nice qualities, they are quieter and if in a residential area it could be beneficial to keeping the peace with neighbors.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3252 days

#3 posted 06-01-2011 04:16 PM

If you have room for it in your shop, get the biggest jointer you can find, both in terms of length and width. However, if you get an 8” width you will probably need 220 volt power which you may or may not have.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View knotscott's profile


8141 posts in 3553 days

#4 posted 06-01-2011 06:35 PM

Definitely get an 8” or bigger if you’ve the room and budget. My 6” Grizzly works well, but wish I had room for an 8”. Any of the floor units from Jet, PM, Grizzly, Delta, Bridgewood, Ridgid, Sunhill, GeeTech, Woodtek, Rockwell, Rikon, Steel City, or Shop Fox are good.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2871 days

#5 posted 06-01-2011 06:45 PM

I’d keep an eye out for the older 1ph Olivers. I seem to see them creep onto CL on occasion. I’ve got a new 6” but I joint mostly by hand now, too. I went Steel City because of a good deal; otherwise new, I would have gone with JET.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View brtech's profile


1049 posts in 3100 days

#6 posted 06-01-2011 07:39 PM

I got a 6” Jet on CL for $220. Excellent condition, even had a set of new knives.

I’d agree that if you can afford an 8” and find a good bargain, go for it, but the 6” floor model jointers are more available on CL in this area.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2871 days

#7 posted 06-01-2011 07:42 PM

When I was buying the 6”, I knew I’d want an 8” within days; and I did. Then I saw an 8” 3ph to 1ph Oliver conversion for less than I paid for my SC. Keep in mind, though, that an 8” with a respectable table will be a lot bigger than it looks in the pictures! The vintage boys are also absurdly heavy, which endears me to them, but may dissuade others. An 8” Oliver would dominate my small shop. I’d have to pull a Dukes Of Hazzard slide over it to get in and out;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3640 days

#8 posted 06-01-2011 09:08 PM

@ Bertha…......insanely heavy? My Crescent is only

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2871 days

#9 posted 06-01-2011 09:10 PM

Lol, people here were suggesting that I could move my 990lb bandsaw by myself. They are a lot stronger than me! Add crescent to the list of machines I’d like to have! ;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2684 posts in 3099 days

#10 posted 06-02-2011 05:33 AM

As neandernormite said “It depends on what you are planning to make” I make small boxes so my bench top 6” $100 jionter serves me well. If I were planning to make cabinets then a larger, floor model would be required.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3825 days

#11 posted 06-02-2011 06:43 AM

8” is good to have if you are committed to surfacing rough lumber
or are building large furniture and cabinet pieces, like face-frame
pantrys and entertainment centers.

Modern 8” machines have long beds and take up a lot of space. The
6” machines are adequate for most non-professional work and they
are easier to fit into a small shop.

Of course you can find vintage 8” or wider jointers with shorter beds,
and those are cool. It’s nice to have a 6’ or longer jointer
but it’s a hassle to live with it if space is at a premium and the
big machine is not needed for the work you do. These days there
are many ways besides the jointer for straightening edges,
beveling, and rabbeting so the tool has, in some respects,
drifted towards obsolescence. It is a fundamental tool of millwork
however. 6” is still adequate for most work and I’ve been in
several shops that turned out pro-quality millwork with a 6”
jointer and in some that didn’t have a jointer at all.

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