Life (craft) without a Jointer (?)

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Forum topic by BigMig posted 06-23-2014 03:52 PM 2263 views 1 time favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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439 posts in 2613 days

06-23-2014 03:52 PM

I’m a very casual woodworking hobbyist (evenings, weekends) who’s developing his skills and just trying to learn as I go along. Right now I’m working without a power jointer…I’ve built a jig to allow me to fasten a board to a piece of cabinet grade plywood and use a bearing -based router bit to trim the board flush with the factory edge of the plywood…but it’s a little inconvenient, as you’d expect.

Does anybody out there have ideas/solutions/thoughts about how to get along without a motorized jointer? Or instead is it just one of the more needed power tools of the wood shop. I have a good tablesaw, router table, drill press, etc. I’ve had some success at using a #7 plane and planed the edges of a pair of boards (held together) to have them “mate”... It’s worked for me on short boards, but it’s more challenging with longer runs (beyond 30 inches)

If your answer is “get a jointer” – do you have recommendations on a 6” or 8” ( an 8” is a stretch in a small, basement shop)


-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

33 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


9477 posts in 1486 days

#1 posted 06-23-2014 03:56 PM

Don’t get a benchtop jointer. Bigger is almost always better but a 6” is good to start out with.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JonHitThingWithRock's profile


97 posts in 1722 days

#2 posted 06-23-2014 04:27 PM

steve ramsey from woodworkingformeremortals just did a video making a simple jointing jig for the table saw that might fit the bill just right

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2183 days

#3 posted 06-23-2014 04:28 PM

If you’ve got a #7 plane, you’ve got everything you really need, IMO. Getting the technique down takes a little practice, but you should be able to joint pretty much any board with a #7.

If you’re going to buy one more piece of equipment, it should be a thickness planer. Jointing with a hand plane and a square is pretty straightforward. Planing multiple boards to thickness is harder.

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

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2248 days

#4 posted 06-23-2014 04:42 PM

I don’t use a jointer. I prefer to edge and face joint with handtools. There is no size limitation and it’s a rewarding experience. If you have a planer you only need to joint one face then let the planer take care of the rest.


View nicksmurf111's profile


367 posts in 1450 days

#5 posted 06-23-2014 04:59 PM

Don’t get a benchtop model anything. You can get used 6” jointers for about $150 any day, or get just a lot of practice with that #7 plane. It’s about efficiency.

-- Nicholas

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29232 posts in 2338 days

#6 posted 06-23-2014 05:06 PM

To be honest, my tablesaw cuts a true enough cut most of the time that I can skip the joiner. I do have a joiner if needed (6”).

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1680 days

#7 posted 06-23-2014 05:06 PM

Once I learned how to joint a edge flat with a hand plane I find it’s usually just as fast as running it over a joiner especially with having to hook up the dust collector hose. if I’m doing a lot of edges it’s still faster setting up the joiner but for small one off jobs I find doing it by hand works better.

Practice and more practice is your best bet. Pay attention to where on the plane you apply pressure during the cut and once you get into the groove you will find it’s going very fast especially with pieces that are already mostly flat.

The problem with a smaller power joiner is even after you buy it you will only be able to use it for smaller pieces. There will always be faces to large to joint in which case you need to cut your work up to joint it flat or build sleds for your planner and edges that are to long requiring you to maneuver you joiner around the shop trying to find a angle long enough to joint the piece and hope you don’t introduce more of a bow during the process.

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2019 days

#8 posted 06-23-2014 05:14 PM

I guess I will be a dissenting opinion here…I wouldn’t want to live without my jointer. There are definitely some good work arounds for edge jointing (WWMM as mentioned above), but where my jointer really earns it’s keep is in face jointing. Nothing like that one flat face and flat edge to to start a project off with.

Not a critical piece of equipment, but I think like a lot of us, once you have one, its hard to go back. Keep an eye out on craigslist, they show up relatively often around here. $150 seems cheap to me, but cost varies from market to market. If you find that you can actually go back to living without one, you can just toss it back up on craigslist for what you paid for it.

Best of luck!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5661 posts in 2813 days

#9 posted 06-23-2014 05:15 PM

I started with a 6” jointer and most of the boards that came through my shop were between 6-8”. I can’t tell you how maddening it is to take a beautiful wide board, and cut it to rough width at the bandsaw so it will fit your jointer. So I quickly upgraded to an 8” jointer. It was a surprising bargain, and only cost $125 more than my smaller jointer. Now most boards can be surfaced, and it works quite well. Yes, there are occasional 11” wide boards, but they are typically low quality with cracks and checks.

Good luck with your decision.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3136 days

#10 posted 06-23-2014 05:21 PM

When my project calls for solid stock (other than edge banding plywood) I have a lot more fun if the wood is freshly face jointed and thicknessed. I personally don’t find these operations particularly interesting so I’m happy to use a power jointer and planer to get them done quickly so that I can move on to the more interesting tasks. Even then it takes a bit of time to mill up the stock for the face frame of a modest cabinet. Edge jointing comes out best for me on the table saw.

My woodworking really “opened up” once I got a jointer and planer and learned how to use them. BTW I have a basic 6” stationary jointer and a Dewalt 735 “portable” planer. If you go this route you will want a dust collector – these babies generate an amazing quantity of wood chips.

I can understand completely recreational woodworkers that prefer using hand planes. But at this point that is not so appealing to me.

-- Greg D.

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 1915 days

#11 posted 06-23-2014 05:45 PM

I won’t be able to afford a jointer for a long time. I stumbled across a video where someone had used a router table with an offset fence for jointing. That will be how I’ll do it when the need arises. If you have a router table with a fence that allows you to adjust both infeed and outfeed sides, you set the outfeed side(left of the blade) to exactly where the edge of the router bit is, but infeed set back behind the big just a touch. It becomes essentially a jointer laid down on its side.

View BigMig's profile


439 posts in 2613 days

#12 posted 06-23-2014 05:46 PM

Thanks to all for your kind responses.

I should have said that I do have a thickness planer and that I’m looking to make better / faster / more reliably repeatable edge joints. The table saw doesn’t always work because the edge of the board that rides the fence is often curved – and THAT translates to making a similar curve on the saw cuttine edge…

Thanks also for the link to the Ramsey video…

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 1915 days

#13 posted 06-23-2014 05:49 PM There is a good video of it.

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2351 days

#14 posted 06-23-2014 05:52 PM

The cheapest solution is hand planes. Get a #7 vintage Stanley. There is a learning curve to tuning and sharpening and using them, but it is satisfying. I’ve been woodworking all my life and I still haven’t bought a jointer.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View CoachSchroeder's profile


97 posts in 1604 days

#15 posted 06-23-2014 05:58 PM

Mike- it seems we are on a similar level (hobby ww). I thought I really needed a jointer. Found a good deal on craigslist to get a stand alone 6in jointer for $100.
I’ve used it twice…

To be fair, I’d like to be spending a lot more time in the shop than I have been lately and I’d love to use more rough lumber but so far it hasn’t been that useful.

-- -Sam, in Wisconsin

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