Why does a jointer need to be heavy?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by JeffP posted 03-06-2015 02:19 AM 1228 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1567 days

03-06-2015 02:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer

I’m almost done with an initial outfitting of my first real shop.

One major piece I still want/need is a good jointer. Since I have a router table with a good offset-able fence system, I can definitely do edge jointing there. This jointer would be all about being able to surface wide raw lumber. Leaning towards an 8” jointer.

Somehow, it seems that jointer’s are sold “by the ton”. For almost anybody, a thousand pound shop tool comes with some inherent transportation and installation issues.

My question, other than the “Tim the Tool Man Taylor” bragging rights, how is “heft” such an important feature in a jointer.

To be sure, it wouldn’t do to have the jointer wobbling around while in use, but gravity is not the only way to stabilize a tool.

Why the tonnage?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

11 replies so far

View bbasiaga's profile


1240 posts in 2171 days

#1 posted 03-06-2015 03:17 AM

No expert, but I think it all comes down to stress and rigidity. To make a bigger depth of cut, and across a wider surface the machine will experience more and more stress. In order to accomplish that with castings like are used in most machine tools, you either need more metal (bigger heavier castings) or more exotic materials (expensive). The amount of stress is not necessarily linear as workload increases either. So you may find a big break in weight between certain sizes of machine.

Weight is also used to dampen vibration, which is good for the user, the tool, and the quality of the finished product.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Hammerthumb's profile


2902 posts in 2151 days

#2 posted 03-06-2015 03:49 AM

I replaced my 6” jointer with an old PM 8”. When jointing long heavy boards on the 6” Jet, it wanted to tip over at the end of the cut due to weight transfer at the end of the outfeed table. With the old iron (PM60) I don’t have that problem.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View TheFridge's profile


10504 posts in 1662 days

#3 posted 03-06-2015 04:10 AM

It just happens to weigh a bunch. It’s not about the weight, it’s the thickness of the casting required to provide a long bed with a warp free life. Try a benchtop jointer and then try a long bed. The only similarity between the 2 is that they share a name.

Using a router table to joint a board here or there isn’t going to work like you want unless you leave it setup that way. If setting up a machine purpose built for the task can be a pain, I can only imagine setting up something that isn’t strictly for the task.

Go with an 8”. You will thank yourself later.

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

View MrUnix's profile


7005 posts in 2374 days

#4 posted 03-06-2015 04:19 AM

They have been made out of stamped/welded steel and are still heavy :)

(Above: Boice Crane model 2400 jointer from vintagemachinery site.. not mine unfortunately)

More mass = less vibration = more precise operation. Many lathe users put sandbags or other type weights on them to reduce vibration and increase stability. When it comes to spinning cutters meeting wood, you don’t want vibration, chatter or other movement.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View pintodeluxe's profile


5784 posts in 2989 days

#5 posted 03-06-2015 04:32 AM

My 8” jointer is 76” long. I think anything that size and cast iron will be heavy. However that is a good thing when it comes to stationary power tools. It is easy to roll around on a mobile base. Mine weighs a little more than 500 lbs.

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

View JAAune's profile


1846 posts in 2492 days

#6 posted 03-06-2015 05:04 AM

Heavy machines almost always run smoother and are usually more stable.

-- See my work at and

View BilltheDiver's profile


260 posts in 3061 days

#7 posted 03-06-2015 05:32 AM

I will second what everyone else is telling you. I must also say that when I switched from a 6” jointer to an 8” there was no going back. The added bulk and stability far more than compensates for the heft of the machinery, even when using it on relatively small boards.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View knotscott's profile


8140 posts in 3551 days

#8 posted 03-06-2015 10:33 AM

Mass = stability and dampens vibration.

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

View Xtreme90's profile


193 posts in 3368 days

#9 posted 03-06-2015 11:00 AM

Knotscott said it perfectly. MASS is your friend with really any woodworking tool in general.. Except a hand sander. Lol! :-)

-- "I don't cut wood. I machine it!" G.M. The wood machinest

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 2111 days

#10 posted 03-06-2015 12:41 PM

Other than anchor bolting into concrete, mass and gravity really are the only way to stabilize a tool. It’s sort of hard to picture, but when you have an example of mass in front of you, it’s easier to see. Bottom line – it is totally worth it.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1567 days

#11 posted 03-06-2015 12:59 PM

It sounds to me like maybe I’m better off waiting for a few years until I get a “big boy’s shop”. :)

My current shop is a dilapidated old smallish garage with pavers for a floor. In about 3-4 years I’ll have a much bigger building with a real floor and a much better setup for bringing in large things. Also room to just park it and leave it without it being constantly in the way.

Sounds like maybe I’m better off making do without for now rather than making do with something like the $350 8 inch Jet bench top jointer. It gets bad reviews.

Probably better off edge-jointing on the router table and doing limited face jointing with a sled on my planer. The worst boards will just get tossed back on the stack for use later when I get a real jointer.

On the bright side, a big fancy boat-anchor of a jointer will give me something to look forward to for christening the big building when it happens.

Thanks for all the responses. :)

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics