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Wood Jointer – The Easy Way to Square And Flat Surfaces

October 19, 2018Olen Murriel

When it comes to power tools, there is a whole lot of them that we can use if we want to flatten a piece of wood (stock). A table saw and a surface planer perform a pretty solid job when it comes to reducing the thickness of a piece of wood.

But if you want to really flatten the surface of a board without much hassle, then you should go for a jointer. But before we dive deep into what a jointer is and how to use it. First let’s look at the differences between a jointer and a planer as most people use these words interchangeably.

Despite the use of these tools to treat rough wood or lumber, they are not the same exactly. When you purchase wood from the retailers or top shelf suppliers, the wood is not completely flat as you’d expect and that is where a jointer comes in. A jointer is used to flatten that bowed or twisted wood completely flat and then a planer is used to get consistent thickness for that particular wood.

So basically a jointer is used to obtain a flat surface while a surface planer is used to achieve consistent thickness. After having seen that difference, let’s discuss the jointer in depth.


What Is A Jointer?

A jointer is a machine used to flatten a surface of a board. A jointer consists of a cutter head in between two long and narrow tables arranged in parallel.

These tables are mostly referred to as the infeed and outfeed tables. The cutterhead that is between the infeed and outfeed tables is driven by an electric induction motor.

The cutting blades are normally adjusted to be equal in height with the outfeed table while the infeed table is adjusted to determine how much of the work piece material should be shaved off. The piece to be worked on is then placed on the infeed table and passed to the outfeed table while passing through the cutting blade that shaves off materials of the work piece under constant speed and pressure.

The cutter head normally contains two or more sharp knives with very sharp edges that do come into contact with the board that needs to be flattened.

The jointer also contains a fence that is set perpendicular to the tables that allows placing of the square edge on the board.

Operating A Jointer

When jointing a board, the work piece or the board to be jointed on is usually placed on the fence while the edges to be flattened rest on the infeed table. The infeed table is then adjusted to the according to the amount of material to be shaved off the work piece.

The work piece is then passed on to the cutter head to the outfeed table. The blades of the cutter head then remove the amount of material that needs to be cutt off.

When you need to flatten the face of the board, the same procedure is used but instead the orientation of the board is changed and the fence is not used in this case.

Safety When Using A Jointer

It is very important to look after yourself when using a jointer. Worse cases have been reported on people being dismembered by jointer blades.

Be watchful of your clothes and hands when dealing with jointers. Make sure you wear clothes that really fit you and can’t be sucked in when using a jointer.

Also when dealing with thin pieces of timber or wood, ensure that you use a strong piece of wood to push them in and not your bare hands.

Also, it is very important to use steady pressure and speed when straightening a work piece using a jointer.

Last but not least, before you start using a jointer, make sure that you read the instructional manual and understand it well. Nearly 99% of the people don’t do this.

Straightening A Bowed Board

Firstly, make sure that the jointer is up to speed. Never ever use a jointer when it isn’t up to speed as it may chip the blades of the cutters. Once that is ensured, it is time to straighten that board.

To straighten a bowed board, the guard should be temporarily swung out of the board. The center of the board should be facing upward to make it easy to flatten it. Remember, you’d need to adjust your technique.

Make few cuts to one end and turn the timber end for end. Then repeat the procedure with the other end. Remember to check the length of the timber or board from to time to ensure its being straightened.

When the board or work piece becomes nearly straight, replace the guard and make the last cut in a normal way. As for the twisted lumber, lay it on the machine and move it slowly from side to side until it is straightened out.

Other Uses Of Jointer

When you are ready to up your game of using jointer, you can try other uses. Jointer are used to make rabbets in finished timber.

A rabbet is a rectangular groove or step that is cut along the edge of a piece of timber to receive another piece.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips to take home with you about using a jointer. Make sure to have a reserve set of sharpened blades in hand. These will help you in case you chipped your knives when jointing a board.

Also avoid trying to cut manufactured wood on your jointer as they will chip your cutting knives. Using it for cutting softwood and hardwood only.

Make sure to check the board you want to cut before passing it through the jointer. In case there are metals or stones in there, they can damage the knives of your jointer. Lastly, handle your jointer with utmost care to prevent accidents.


Evidently, using a wood jointer is not as difficult as commonly thought. With due diligence and following the precise industry guidelines.

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