Checking 16" Jointer Table Accuracy

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Forum topic by BillA posted 09-26-2012 10:06 PM 2469 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 2340 days

09-26-2012 10:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer straight edge

I am in the market for a used 16” jointer and do not want to make the mistake of purchasing one with tables that are not true. What is the proper procedure for checking the tables for flatness, parrallelism and anything else that should be checked. On this size machine the infeed tables are around 55”-60”, the outfeed tables are 40”-45” and overall length is on the order of 100”, given that what length straight edge would be needed to make the necessary checks for accuracy? Thanks for your help.

8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3889 days

#1 posted 09-26-2012 10:18 PM

A pair of 96” levels should serve to make that assessment. Get
ones with a magnetic strip on one edge if possible.

View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3326 days

#2 posted 09-27-2012 02:17 PM

Where are you located? There might still be a good one located up the Bitterroot here in Montana.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

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6 posts in 2340 days

#3 posted 09-27-2012 04:08 PM

Gus, thanks for the tip but I am in Texas.

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3582 days

#4 posted 09-27-2012 04:23 PM

the long level sounds good
hold it flat on the outfeed table
close to fence (right side)

with auto feeler gauge
check the infeed table
close to the cutterhead
and at the beginning off the infeed table
then do the same on the
other side (left side)
without flipping the level
or spinning it around

it should give you an idea
if the tables are twisted or in plane

most ramps have a way to adjust
(shim stock may be needed on some
to adjust)

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

View BillA's profile


6 posts in 2340 days

#5 posted 09-30-2012 11:32 PM

Thanks to all for your suggestions. I have looked for specifications on a few 6’-8’ levels and have not been able to find anything regarding accuracy as a straight edge. As Rick has pointed out, without spec’s as to straightness how would you know whether the feeler gauge is measuring a discrepancy in the jointer table or one in the level?

I was hoping to avoid investing several hundred bucks in a large (read 6’) machined straight edge, but that appears to be the best tool available. Rick, thanks for your suggested methodology. I assume a person should also check the fence by laying a straight edge along its length both at the top and bottom or would it be better to use an engineers square at various points along the jointer table and the fence?

I will be going next week to look at a Delta RJ-42 that is 10+ years old. Any suggestions on specific things to look at on this machine? I have not really considered the older Crescent, Oliver, etc. machines for several reasons. I am not a mechanic/machinist and am concerned there older machines would become a project, I would rather be working wood. I know little to nothing about babbit bearings and am not sure where I would go for service should they become a problem. Finally these machines are 50% heavier than their parallel design counterparts and with a limited amount of shop space I plan on mounting this machine on a custom built dolly for mobility. Having said all that, I am open to discussion on the topic if my assumptions and concerns are incorrect or unfounded.

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6 posts in 2340 days

#6 posted 10-01-2012 06:44 PM

That is why I am asking questions, trying to learn as much as I can. Thanks again for information.

View BillA's profile


6 posts in 2340 days

#7 posted 10-03-2012 01:37 AM


Yes I have dealt with both new and used machine dealers in the past. Purchased a new Delta Unisaw supposedly delivered “set up” to my shop. Was treated to two guys jerking the $3000 saw off the lift gate, skidding it around 180 degrees across rough driveway concrete leaving black skidmarks as they sanded the casters flat on one side, tearing the adjustable rubber feet off in the process. When finally in the shop found that the scale on fence was only off 1-1/2” and the table extensions were anything but flat to the main table. So much for “set up” and dealer value. As far as I know this the one and only Delta dealer in a major metropolitan area. Needless to say that dealer has seen the last of me. As for used machinery dealers the two that I have dealt with sold the equipment “as is” and did not appear nor express to possess any particular skill in setting up, checking out or maintaining the equipment. Are there dealers who are worth a premium for equipment? I am sure there are, I just have not found one.

Yes, I understand that every person who works with this type machinery must be willing and capable of a certain level of mechanical apptitude to set-up and maintain it. Some on this forum are quite accomplished at it and get enjoyment out of totally stripping down and rebuilding a machine. Some like me are willing and capable of set-up and a moderate amount of maintenance, but our ultimate enjoyment comes from working wood not metal.

Yes, I am aware of the 4 methods of phase conversion and the pros and cons of each. Because of the added expense I made a decision early on not to purchase three phase equipment. The jointer I referenced earlier is single phase.

Thanks for your help.

View Mtnwood's profile


1 post in 2176 days

#8 posted 02-07-2013 05:23 AM

Stumbling around and found this post, Bluepine38 I’m up in Kalispell, do you know if that one is still available?
Here is my contact info if you see this,

Scott Thomas


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