If you run a medium to production scale operation, a jointer pays for itself in a year or two. Yes, the initial investment is high. But, if you’re serious about woodworking, you’ll need a jointer at some point. If you’re reading this, I suspect that you’ve reached that point.
In the first part, I’ll take you through our list of the best jointers of 2018. After that, we’ll discuss everything that goes into deciding what is the best jointer for your needs. I’m excited about this journey, and I hope you are too. Let’s begin!
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|7.000 RPM||518 pounds||5 years||4.9/5
Our Top Pick
|Delta Power Tools 37-071 6 Inch||$$|
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|10.000 RPM||76 pounds||5 years||4.6/5
Best Benchtop Jointer + Best for the money
|PORTER-CABLE PC160JT ||$|
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|11.000 RPM||35 pounds||3 years||4.4/5|
|JET JJP-12 12-Inch Jointer Planer||$$$$|
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|5.500 RPM||600 pounds||5 years||4.2/5|
|JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX||$$$|
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|6.000 RPM||256 pounds||5 years||4.0/5|
The 1610086K is a full-sized jointer that’s built to handle a large volume of work. The price tag clearly communicates this fact. This jointer has a 230-Volt 2 horsepower single-phase 9 A motor, which powers the 7000 rpm helical cutter head. And for that reason, it’s recognized as one of the top 8″ jointers out there.
Speaking of performance, the 1610086K has a maximum cutting depth of half an inch, and joints stock less than 8 inches wide. The 73-inch table and 38-inch fence provide adequate support for long pieces. The dust collection mechanism functions extremely well, leaving virtually no debris.
In addition to high capacity, the next advantage of owning a 1610086K is the easy and accurate adjustment. The infeed table’s fine and coarse adjustment lever allows you to set the depth with extreme precision and convenience. The no-mar fence’s gear system lets you set the angle of the fence using a robust handwheel.
Although the initial setup takes time, the parts remain in alignment during operation. The table, fence, and cutter head stay right where you put them until you tweak the settings again. Moreover, you get a 5-year limited warranty on this machine. Considering all this, it’s not surprising why many woodworkers consider the 1610086K the best jointer on the market.
A full-fledged commercial woodshop requires a jointer like the 1610086K. But, what about small scale woodshop owners? Should they remain content with buying pre-surfaced lumber? Or should they rig up elaborate router gigs to joint lumber? While these are a few options, this situation calls for a bench jointer like the DELTA 37-071.
The 37-071 runs on a 120-Volt single-phase 12 A motor, which powers the 10,000 rpm cutter head. The cutter head has 2 straight knives that cut to a maximum of 1/8 inches at 20,000 cuts per minute.
The table is 28-1/2 inches long and the fence is 22-7/8 inches long. Generally, the length of stock you can joint is approximately twice the length of the bed. With this machine, you can joint up to 5-inch long stock without extra support.
The fence has positive stops at 90°, 45° in and 45° out. Changing the fence’s angle is easy. But, you should check the angles with a speed square. If the fence is out of alignment, you can calibrate it by adjusting the 90° stop rod and 45° stop bolts.
The machine comes with a 5-year warranty, two push blocks, a built-in dust blower, 2 cutter head knives, and cast iron construction. So, it has everything you need to get started on jointing some wood. And, considering its price, it’s one of the best jointers for the money. It’s certainly also one of the best 6″ benchtop jointers on the market.
If you’re shopping for a bench jointer, the Porter Cable PC160JT is one of the better low-cost options to consider. It’s cheaper than the DELTA 37-071 and it comes with a variable speed setting. Using the 5 speed settings, you can change the cutter head speed from 6,000 rpm to 11,000 rpm. So, you can adjust the speed to match the size and material of the stock.
The PC160JT’s table is 30 inches long and its fence is 19.5 inches long. A 110-Volt 2 horsepower single-phase 10 A motor powers the cutter head. This motor is less powerful than the motor on the DELTA 37-071. The cutter head has 2 high speed steel straight knives that can land between 12,000 and 22,000 cuts per minute.
The maximum cut depth for this machine is 1/8 inches and it can joint surfaces up to 6 inches wide. The fence has two stops – 90° and 45°. Now, here lies the main problem. The machine doesn’t stay tuned. You should frequently check the level of the in-feed table, the cutter head, and the out-feed table, as well as the angle of the fence. So, this isn’t a high-precision machine.
Lastly, the build quality of this machine doesn’t look nor feel durable. For instance, the DELTA 37-071 has a solid cast iron construction. But, the PC160JT has a sheet metal housing and plastic adjustment levers. Overall, the DELTA is a better machine, but it is more expensive than this Porter Cable jointer. That said, the PC160JT is a viable option if you have a very small and tight budget.
One of the most common issues people face is choosing between a planer and jointer. The reason is space and budget constraints. A smart way to overcome this limitation is to go for a jointer planer combo. In this category of products, the JET JJP-12 reigns supreme.
Bear in mind, if you run a production scale woodshop, you’ll need a separate jointer and planer. For small to medium scale operations, you can count on the JJP-12. So, let’s see what makes this product so great.
The most noticeable plus point is the ease with which you can switch between jointer mode and planer mode. You can do it in under a minute. The 230-Volt 3 horsepower single phase 12.5 A motor rotates the cutter head at 5,500 rpm. The cutter head has 3 straight knives. Thus, the jointer makes 16,500 cuts per minute. Since three knives share the work, they retain their sharpness for longer periods.
In the planer mode, the machine has a feed rate of 20 fpm. The maximum cutting depth for a full width piece is 1/8 inches. This is standard. The planer table is 21.25 inches, which is enough for planing stock up to 3.5-feet long. The jointer table, however, is 55 inches long. This is adequate for jointing stock up to 8-feet long.
In conclusion, if you don’t own a planer, then this is a superb choice. However, if you do own one, then you should go for the Powermatic 1610086K. They’re both in the same price range.
If your situation demands a full-sized jointer, but you’re on a limited budget, consider buying the JET 708457DXK. When I look at budget-friendly solutions, I check one thing – does the performance scale down as much as the price does? In this case, the 708457DXK is 60 percent cheaper than the Powermatic 1610086K. So, how much does the performance vary? Let’s check.
The Powermatic has a 2070-Watt motor and the JET has a 1495-Watt motor. So, that’s a 27.7 percent drop. When it comes to table length, there’s a 23 percent decrease in length. As for the table width, there’s a 25 percent decrease. As you can see, the performance doesn’t decrease as much as the price does. This is a very good thing. Both machines have the same maximum depth of cut. So, you’re not losing out on much.
However, one key difference is the cutter head type. The Powermatic has a helical cutter head. But, the JET jointer’s cutter head has 3 straight knives. This switch does not negatively impact performance as much as it positively impacts the economy. So, no complaints here either.
Lastly, the JET 708457DXK comes with a 5-year limited warranty. Now, here’s my take on this. If you need something better than a bench jointer, but you don’t want to go all in, buying the JET 708457DXK is a good option.
A good buy is the outcome of a series of small decisions made correctly. To make the correct decision, you need the right information after all. In this part of the guide, I will systematically take you through all the decisions leading to the best possible purchase. Let’s start with the most basic question that people have:
What does a jointer do? Do I need one?
Unless you intend to use expensive pre-surfaced stock for all your projects, you cannot make do without a surfacing tool. The two most common surfacing tools are jointers and planers. A jointer makes a surface flat and a planer makes two opposite surfaces parallel. With the help of these two machines, you can remove bows, cups, and twists in rough sawn lumber.
As a result, you get stock in which all faces are flat, adjacent faces are at a 90° angle, and opposite faces are parallel. In other words, the stock’s cross section becomes uniform across its length, width, and height.
Wait a minute, you’re saying I need a planer too?
Let’s say you have a 2” x 4” rough sawn board with a bow, a twist, and a cup. If you run the stock only through a jointer, you can eliminate the deformities. However, you will get a piece that isn’t of uniform thickness. You need a planer to make all surfaces parallel, thereby producing a board of uniform thickness and square angles.
Now, what happens when you run the unsurfaced stock through a planer without using a jointer? Well, the planer will cut wood along the contours of the stock. Although this can remove some of the cup, it does not do much towards resolving the twist and bow. However, if the planer had one flat surface as a reference, it can remove excess wood from the opposite surface to make the two surfaces parallel.
Here’s the thing. You can achieve these results without using a planer or jointer. For instance, you can flatten a surface with a router sled. Such methods work well for occasional jointing. However, if you work on a production scale, managing things with makeshift gigs becomes difficult.
I understand. But, jointers are expensive. Is it worth it?
I’ll use an example to show you how to do a quick break even analysis. Then, I’ll show you how to interpret that result. This way, you will know whether it’s the right time to switch from pre-milled lumber to rough sawn lumber.
Let’s say I want to switch from using 2” x 4” x 6’ S4S common-grade pine boards to rough cut pine boards of the same size. The cost savings works out to approximately $5 per board. If I spend $3000 to buy a jointer and planer, it will take 600 boards to recover the cost.
At the rate of 1 board per day, it will take me about a year and a half to break even. But, if I use only 1 board per week, it will take me around 11 years to breakeven. So, the decision to switch from buying pre-milled wood to milling lumber yourself depends on budget, difference between the price of rough sawn lumber and pre-milled lumber, and consumption. Using these factors, you can calculate the time it will take to break even.
If the breakeven time is less than 2 years, go for a jointer and planer immediately. If the breakeven time is between 2 to 3 years, you should still consider milling lumber on your own. If the breakeven time is more than 3 years, it’s better to postpone your plan.
If I am getting a jointer, what are the features I should look for?
The important parameters I compare while shopping for jointers are as follows:
Fantastic, I think a jointer can really help me. What are my options?
While putting together the product review section of this article, we selected the top products for different customer needs. There’s a high chance that you will find what you are looking for in the review section. However, if you want to do your own analysis, here are some brands you should look at: JET, Laguna, and Powermatic.
Before we conclude, let’s look at all the products we’ve discussed. The Powermatic 1610086K is our top pick. It’s got everything you want from a jointer. It’s a solid machine that will last at least 6 to 7 years, and it would have paid for itself 3 or 4 times in that period. But, you’ll have to reach deep into your pockets make this machine yours.
If you’re ready to spend that kind of money, you should also consider the JET JJP-12. It’s a jointer planer combo. If you have neither, then this is the best choice. Now, if you’re not ready to make that sort of investment, we recommend that you go for the Delta Power Tools 37-071, which is the best pick for the money in our opinion.
Of course, I came to this conclusion based on my own breakeven analysis. Based on the information in the buying guide and the products on our list of the best jointers of 2018, you can make an informed buying decision too. I hope that our jointer reviews will help you make your final buying decision.