Do I need a Jointer for kitchen cabinets?

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Forum topic by verndog posted 05-08-2009 02:39 AM 9776 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 3555 days

05-08-2009 02:39 AM

Cabinet makers,
I have a major project in my future doing a complete remodel of our kitchen. I will be doing raised panel doors and have a table saw, radial arm saw, router table, biscuit joiner, planer, Kreg jig etc. Do I really need a jointer if I purchase 4/4 stock that is supposedly flat on one side and one edge? I have heard of using the router table as a jointer for the panels etc. I ran into a gentleman at the woodworking show this weekend and he claimed that the jointer and the planer were the most important tools in the shop. It really got me thinking? Do I really need this monster? The jointer he recommended was a Delta DJ-20 and is around 6 Feet long and probably a couple feet wide. I feel that my shop is full now and I haven’t even started to fill it with materials. There is obviously a lot of good advice on this forum and I definitely need some! Thanks in advance for your assistance!
I posted this question on another forum and so far got a limited response thanks to all in the know!

-- Vern, Southern CA

30 replies so far

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4063 days

#1 posted 05-08-2009 02:58 AM

My jointer is the least used machine in my shop. I built cabinets for years and never had one. You can joint on a router table or, if your stock had been straight line cut on one side, use the table saw with a glue line rip blade. I wouldn’t buy one just for one project if you don’t foresee using it regularly. My planer is heavily used because I buy all my lumber rough. You can spend a little more and have your lumber surfaced by your lumber supplier. Most charge a few cents per LF to do this. There are some tools that you “have to have” and some that are “nice to have”. Some functions can be gotten around by being creative.

Many people swear by their radial arm saw. I found it to be the most useless, and dangerous tool in my shop and got rid of it after a few years. I just bought a drum sander last year. It is now used as much as my table saw and I could not live without it. Everybody as different needs for what they do.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View PurpLev's profile


8541 posts in 3820 days

#2 posted 05-08-2009 03:03 AM

if you buy you lumber flat and jointed on one edge- you don’t really need a jointer, as thats what the jointer will do…

a jointer will come in handy if you buy all your lumber rough. if you have a planer, you can get around “must having a jointer” and surface one side on the planer with a sled, or with rough hand planing, and joint with a router table.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View johnpoolesc's profile


246 posts in 3531 days

#3 posted 05-08-2009 03:31 AM

if your going to do edge glue ups.. ie table tops.. anytime you need stock wider then your source.. use your jointer… i use my jointer every time i do a project.. but i buy rough stock. i don’t think you can buy stock that never needs jointing..

my opinion.. not for cabinets.. 90 percent of the work is plywood.. another tip. if your table saw is well tuned and you cut your stock slow, it should be very close to a perfect joint..

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3993 days

#4 posted 05-08-2009 03:39 AM

You can use your planer to edge joint the stock. You will need to hold it upright by clamping the stock to a sled but you can “joint” it this way using a planer. But, as far as making cabinets go, I use my jointer every time I make a cabinet since I like to work with glued up panels and work with rough lumber.

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

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3729 days

#5 posted 05-08-2009 03:44 AM

I’m like closetguy. Hardly use my jointer. Most lumber I buy is straight on one side, so cut on the TS and if it does need jointed, I use my planer. I hardly ever use the jointer, even in my workplace.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View johnpoolesc's profile


246 posts in 3531 days

#6 posted 05-08-2009 03:49 AM

i have seen people stack wood then run it through the planner edge up.. joint 5 or 6 edges at the same time.

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117270 posts in 3748 days

#7 posted 05-08-2009 07:28 AM

You can make cabinets with out one but I’d rather have one

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3498 days

#8 posted 05-08-2009 07:41 AM

Agree with Jim and many others on here. I got by for years with out a jointer, now that I have a good one, I don’t see how I ever got by with out it. But I did. But I would not buy it for just “One” job.

-- Don S.E. OK

View LesB's profile


1838 posts in 3614 days

#9 posted 05-08-2009 07:48 AM

I seldom use my jointer for cabinet work, especially with wood that is flat and straight on one side. Most of the time I can get just as good an edge for joining boards by cutting them on the table saw. Just make sure you saw is tuned up so it cuts clean. From your list of tools is sounds like you are ready to make cabinets.
You didn’t say how big you router was but if you intend to cut raised panels with it you should have at least a 2 1/4 hp to handle large panel coving bits. Even then you may need to make progressive passes.
A smaller router will handle the cope and stick cutting of the door frames but if you haven’t done that before make a few practice pieces first. Even then I often cut a little short of full depth on the first pass and then make a second “finishing” cut so it comes out clean and smooth. Be sure to backup board with the end grain cuts prevent tear out. Good luck.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3498 days

#10 posted 05-08-2009 08:04 AM

LesB gave some good advice. But if you don’t have that big of a router, you can make a over sized tall fence for your table saw, figure out what angle your raised panels are, and precut the raised panels on your table saw, leave about a 1/8 inch or more of wood, then finish with your router. It really saves the router from a hard work out. Depending on the size of the doors/raised panels I am making, I will still do this even though I have a big 3hp router, easier on the router, easier on the bit (bits last a lot longer, less wood to hog out).

Easiest way I have found to pre cut these are to set up my router, then run some very soft scrap wood through it, then take the scrape to my saw and fence and tilt the blade to match it, and set the height just short and just slide it over till it almost touches the wood lock it down, I then run another scrape piece through it and then through my router to make sure everything matches up.

-- Don S.E. OK

View seriousturtle's profile


101 posts in 3502 days

#11 posted 05-08-2009 01:57 PM

I just picked up a new jointing method in these forums that works incredible. Using the TS, I cut a 6”wide strip of MDF (had scrap). Now I run my stock against that strip, crown out towards the blade. I didn’t think it would work but it did, perfectly. Now I can ditch my TS jointing jig that didn’t work well at all. ~the turtle

-- ~the turtle

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4177 days

#12 posted 05-08-2009 02:17 PM

The problem with straight lined lumber is that it may not be straight after you rip it on the table saw. Boards sometimes “banana” when ripped. You can work your way around this by picking the straightest for long door stiles and the less straight for shorter rails and such. A jointer sure makes life easier though.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Straightpiped's profile


89 posts in 3663 days

#13 posted 05-08-2009 02:39 PM

I am building my cabinets right now. IMO, I couldn’t do it without my jointer. I do buy all my lumber rough though. If you had a hardwood dealer S2S all your wood than you could get away with it. My dealer charges $15 a board for that service. Since I am doing all hardwood, no ply, the money saved will easily pay for a nice jointer.

-- T. Nelson

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4046 days

#14 posted 05-08-2009 03:08 PM

I love my jointer and use it a lot. Not just for face and edge jointing, but rabbetting and tapering and thicknessing … most people aren’t aware of all the possibilities, so their jointer just sits in the corner except when they need a straight edge.

The answer to the question, though, is “no, you don’t need a jointer to build kitchen cabinets.” I’ve done a fair amount of edge jointing on a tablesaw or router table. If you don’t want to spend the money, or don’t have the space for the machine, then there are other ways to get a straight, flat board.

-- -- --

View woodworm's profile


14470 posts in 3762 days

#15 posted 05-08-2009 03:29 PM

My approch of work as far as edge jointing is different. I cut my lumber to the parts measurements then dimension them accordingly. With manageable length of lumber, face flatterning and edge jointing can be done on the router or by using hand plane.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

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