From saws and routers to planes and sanders, carpenters and other professionals who work with wood need a lot of tools in order to create attractive and functional finished products. One of the most essential tools in a wood craftsman’s arsenal —especially if the professional works with unfinished wood — is the wood jointer. This piece of electrically powered equipment is essential for both enthusiasts and vocational woodworkers.
In this Woodworking Jointers Buyers Guide, we will detail the different kinds of wood jointers, discuss various considerations when you purchase them, explain their uses, and list various helpful accessories.
Popular Types of Woodworking Jointers
At their most basic, a wood jointer serves to take rough, unfinished wood and smooth and square it to meet specific dimensions. Though hand tools can yield similar results, a wood jointer will process pieces at greater speed and with much higher accuracy. A jointer is a freestanding device featuring a flat surface over a cutting head and a perpendicular fence to guide the wood as the user pushes it forward during the cutting process. They’re contrasted with planers by not being handheld, although we’ll see that there’s one jointer option that doesn’t share that distinction.
Despite the relative simplicity of the concept, there are many types of jointers, and in this section of our jointer buying guide, we will describe what they are and how they’re used:
- Closed-Stand Jointers have a protective baffle that encloses the entire cutting area.
- Open-Stand Jointers are completely open, allowing full access to the cutting area.
- Benchtop Jointers are smaller, portable devices intended to be placed on some sort of flat surface prior to use.
- Tabletop Jointers look and function quite similar to benchtop jointers. However, they are typically smaller and are always closed machines.
- Hand Jointers share a lot of similarities with planes due to how they’re not standalone machines.
- Long Jointers boast added length for particularly oversized pieces.
Comparing and Contrasting the Different Types of Jointers
The various characteristics of the various types of jointers translate into significantly different operating experiences, and not every jointer will function adequately in every use case. For example, closed-stand jointers work well in use cases that prioritize safety since the titular case surrounds the jointer’s blades. Because they’re heavier, these kinds of jointers don’t vibrate as much as other types and they’re usually quieter since the case offers some sound protection. However, they’re also far less portable and the enclosing case may restrict the size of the wood that you can process.
Open-stand jointers have opposing strengths to those of closed-stand jointers. They’re louder and experience more vibration, but they’re also much more mobile and can process larger or oddly shaped pieces. When professionals need to perform on-site work, they’ll often take one of these jointers.
Another option for portable jointers is the benchtop jointer. As their name suggests, these devices are intended for use on a bench or a similarly level surface. They’re even easier to move than open-stand jointers and typically also feature open-top construction, making them operationally flexible. Their motors, though, can’t compete with larger models, and they may struggle with certain kinds of wood.
Heavier, closed, and less portable, tabletop jointers combine increased power with decreased ability to work on larger pieces. They aren’t as easy to move as benchtop options and they can’t process big items, but they’ll work better when dealing with harder pieces.
A hand jointer functions much like a hand plane with similar drawbacks. Though the user enjoys more operational flexibility, there’s an increasing chance of making errors in cutting.
Finally, long jointers are highly specialized pieces of equipment, a kind of jointer that’s designed primarily for fine trimming, not for general-purpose jobs.
What to Look for When Buying Woodworking Jointers
The best jointer on the market today is the one that fits most ideally with your end-use application. Before making a purchase decision, you should chart out as thoroughly as possible how you plan to use your jointer. Items to consider include:
- Table Width: Larger tables equal bigger price tags when it comes to woodworking jointers, but they allow for more flexibility in processing different pieces of wood.
- Cutting Depth: The greater the cutting depth, the fewer passes you will need in order to process your wood, increasing efficiency.
- Cutter Head / Blades: Cutter heads can come with embedded straight knives or carbide heads. The former is inexpensive, but is also louder, grows dull quicker, and requires regular sharpening. The latter is quieter, more durable, and provide a better finish, but costs significantly more.
- Jointer Size: Will the jointer fit into your available space?
- Fences, Bases, and Guides: When these elements are adjustable, you can handle many different kinds of projects.
- Power: If a jointer runs at more than 1 horsepower, it can likely handle harder woods.
- Motor Speed: Higher speeds generally translate into more accurate cutting.
- Dust Collection Features: Jointers with dust collection improve workspace cleanliness and prevent particles from getting inside the machine’s interior workings.
- Biscuit Slots: These preset slots allow operators to easily make common cuts.
- Price: Does the cost of the jointer fit within your budget?
- Warranty: Does the warranty grant you any desired protections?
Applications & Uses
Jointers have multiple uses for every kind of woodworker, some of which include:
- Straightening and smoothing edges of lumber
- Trimming doors to size
- Flattening a surface
- Ensuring perfectly perpendicular sides
- Creating uniform surfaces and angles in wooden products so that different pieces can be easily joined together
- Making uneven timber into standardized sizes
- Removing glue joints
- Removing extraneous matter from moldings
Accessories for Woodworking Jointers
The accessories available for jointers typically run along the lines of spare or replacement parts, such as:
- Blades & Knives
- Infeed/Outfeed Tables
Tips & Tricks
You won’t have any trouble when trying to find a specific type of woodworking jointer on Surplus Record. At the top of all the pages on our website, you’ll see a search bar. Type the phrase “woodworking jointers” into it, click on the category that drops down, and examine the options we have available.