Table saw jointer vs router table jointer

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Forum topic by WoodWorkWarrior posted 10-01-2012 07:01 AM 11348 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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46 posts in 2095 days

10-01-2012 07:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer router table saw jig

Lacking the funds for a jointer, and more critically lacking any space in my small shop for one (even a mobile one), I’m trying to decide if a table saw jig or a router table setup would be best for a simple version of a jointer? I have a small Rockler router table with a split fence. Either option would take about the same amount of time to set up…any suggestions on which is easier or more accurate to use?

-- Jason

17 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


11763 posts in 2402 days

#1 posted 10-01-2012 08:43 AM

Depending on how you build the jig but I’d say tablesaw might be faster. On the other hand, some split router table fences are just a matter of loosening one side and slipping a business card or similar spacer in and tightening it back down. Really it probably comes down to whether you have to change the blade or bit.

-- Rick M,

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2308 days

#2 posted 10-01-2012 11:22 AM

There’s always some like this

table saw and/or router table is really only good for edge jointing. I don’t think you’ll be jointing the face of anything substantial on either of them. Hard to beat a decent #7 (or #8 if you’re feeling muscular) for quickly jointing an edge. Probably have it done in less time than it takes to set up the table saw or router table.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2936 days

#3 posted 10-01-2012 11:41 AM

IMO, there is always some point that well intentioned frugality becomes rather unworkable/impractical. As for me the best solution for your needs would be a lunchbox planer. You could then build a planer based jointing sled and have the best of both worlds. And the lunchbox planer has a small footprint.

Other than that, I would imagine that you could/would end up burning through a number of routers and countless hours of time. But then again, that is just my opinion.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2270 days

#4 posted 10-01-2012 12:16 PM

I use both. The table saw jig is literally a long, widish board with a jointed or factory straight edge and a couple of toggle clamps. That’s it. It does an OK job and I use it for really long stuff I don’t feel like breaking down first. There is also a decent amout of wood wasted with this method.

My primary edge jointing is done with a router free hand. I use a 1” flush trim bit. I have one of those tool stands with MDF tops. It’s actually quite handy and I use it for a lot of things. I replaced one of the small MDF top sections with a large piece of MDF shelving from the BORG. Clamp the board down with a little of the edge overhanging, ride the bearing on the MDF flat edge and you are done. Take the board to your table saw and rip off he other edge. There is a lot less material loss this way.

The router table works too. but as you run out of fence on the long boards, you may start having issues. Also fence alignment needs to be dead on.

Face jointing I also do with a router. I tried it in my lunchbox planer as Mike suggested, but for me it’s quicker with a router sled and a bowl bit. If I had a better planer that wouldn’t trip if I took more than 1/128” at a time, it could be a better solution.


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Adam Baird

67 posts in 2141 days

#5 posted 10-01-2012 02:02 PM

You can get a decent used jointer for $50-100. IMO, you’re going to spend that money either way because you’re going to go through motors, bits and blades on the TS and router that much faster.

May as well just buy a jointer.

-- Adam from Indiana -

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8204 posts in 2599 days

#6 posted 10-01-2012 02:06 PM

Table saw jig with hold downs would be efficient.
Or, if you have a skilsaw you can make a track for
it and join all day long.

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8204 posts in 2599 days

#7 posted 10-01-2012 02:12 PM


View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2270 days

#8 posted 10-01-2012 02:55 PM

I dissagree that jointing with a router or TS will burn them out quicker. It’s just using the tool for what it was designed to do. If it does, you should re-evalueate where you shop for tools :). I could make the same arguement and say because I don’t have a jointer, that is one less thing in my shop to potentially break, and to buy replacement knives for.

I’d also disagree a tad on a “decent” used jointer for 50 to 100$. I would say the entry point (aside from a once in a lifetime deal) is around 150 to 200 for an old 6” delta in decent shape.


View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2205 days

#9 posted 10-01-2012 04:08 PM

This plus a combination square. Takes up less room than anything powered, and will edge and face joint (and thickness plane too, if you know what you’re doing). Works way better than either the table saw or router table jointer rigs (which I’ve tried, and was unhappy with).

I’ve got a powered jointer, too, but most of the time I reach for my hand planes.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View oldnovice's profile


6895 posts in 3390 days

#10 posted 10-01-2012 04:21 PM

My Benchdog RT came with a couple of spacers to offset the outfeed part of the fence for edge jointing. The slots between the fence and the sacrificial faces allow two different depth settings. I have used it on a number of occasions and it works quite well however set up takes some time.

Wood magazine detailed a jig for table saw jointing but since I gave away all my back issues I can’t look up the issue.

And, I would never consider either approach for face jointing!

In both cases set up time makes a dedicated jointer more appealing.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View WoodWorkWarrior's profile


46 posts in 2095 days

#11 posted 10-01-2012 04:48 PM

I should clarify, I wasn’t planning on face jointing, mostly edge jointing. One of these days I’ll get around to making room for and purchasing a jointer…and planer…but I have a couple other tools higher on the need list, so I’m looking for a temporary but useful solution to straighten slightly warped boards. Thanks for the ideas!

-- Jason

View Furnitude's profile


380 posts in 3529 days

#12 posted 10-01-2012 05:01 PM

I’m in a similar situation in that I wish I had a jointer but don’t have the money or space for one. The method I use for establishing a straight edge (so that I can rip the lumber on my table saw) is to use a handplane. It’s easier than you might think, mostly because you can lower your standards a bit. Instead of planing an edge that is not only perfectly straight but also perfectly perpendicular, all you have to do is plane an edge that’s straight. That’s all you need to ride against a table saw fence. It doesn’t even have to be smooth over 100% of the length. It just has to be straight enough that it doesn’t move side to side as you are ripping it.

If you don’t have a plane to joint an edge or if you don’t want to use this method, I would recommend a table saw jig. Setting it up is very simple (having to change the fence on a router table can be a pain, especially if your router table is basically a storage shelf!) and you don’t have to worry about grain direction. I made a jig for my router table and found that I get lots of tear-out. With a router table, you have to be very conscious of grain direction, whereas that doesn’t matter when using a table saw jig. When I’m milling a board, I flatten the side of the board that is easier to flatten. I also flatten the edge that is easier to flattern. The flattened face rides on the table. That sometimes means that the edge I have flattened has the grain oriented the wrong way for use with a router table. Hope that helps.

-- Mitch, Also blog at

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3180 days

#13 posted 10-01-2012 05:12 PM

I have a 6” jointer. More often than not, I’m too lazy to use it. Normally for edge jointing, I just take a board, a little oversized, and make a few 1/16” rips on the table saw, alternating passes on each edge. After two or three passes, you will get a good, straight reference edge. I judge this by how flat it sits against the fence. Errors are “averaged out” eventually.

For shorter boards, a shooting board is just as fast to me anyway, so I normally hand plane those.

For face jointing, I will sometimes just “average it out” by flipping it a few times in the planer. I judge this by using my table saw as a reference for flatness. If the board has grooves or will be jointed to other boards, then they typically get straightened out during glue-up anyway.

For something more critical, like a wider table top, it won’t fit in my jointer anyway…so I usually hand plane it.

So, the chief use of my jointer is for 2 to 6” boards that are a little wavy on their faces. If I can take out that wave enough to where it sits right on the router fence, then I’m usually good to go.

I am convinced that I can live perfectly fine without my jointer, but that’s largely because I have to reconfigure my DC system to use it. If I had permanent ducting and something closer to a 10” size, I’d use such a jointer MUCH more frequently.

And BTW, a taper jig on the table saw or offsetting the fences on my router table (for jointing) would be completely acceptable alternatives for edge jointing. A planer sled works very well for face jointing…and I use mine quite a bit.

-- jay,

View Builder_Bob's profile


161 posts in 3081 days

#14 posted 10-01-2012 05:17 PM

Every cut on the table saw is “edge jointing”. If the saw is setup properly and the blade is decent, you should have a straight clean edge, at 90 degrees to the face, ready for glue up.

The only problem to watch for is the case where the rough edge shifts the boards position as it passes along the fence. If that is the case you can “sister” another board to the rough board for the first pass.

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

View oldnovice's profile


6895 posts in 3390 days

#15 posted 10-01-2012 06:46 PM

Wood magazine also detailed a jig for edge jointing on a planer using a sled to hold the work piece but I have never tried this as, again, it just to time consuming to set it up.

As Builder_Bob said above, I also get very good results with my TS and my Forrest Woodworker II blade.

You can use hand tools to do everything that power tools can do and power tools exist because they save time. Some may say that power tools more accurate but I believe that the craftsmen of today, and of years ago (before power tools), will probably disagree!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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