Another favorite among woodworkers, a jointer is a tool which is used to create perfectly smooth, flat and uniform edges of a piece of wood. If you’ve got a piece of wood with rough and coarse sides, a jointer is the ideal tool to make these sides more planed and even.People would sometimes confuse a jointer with a planer, which actually cuts the wood into a preferred thickness while producing a smooth, flat surface.
When planning to buy a jointer, you should consider two important things: the bed width and the cutting depth. The bed width, however, should be main deciding factor that will help you determine if this certain model will be worth your money and the job you’ll want to accomplish with.
There are models with 6-inch, 8-inch and 12-inch bed widths. Most hobbyists with budgetary restrictions will get by with a 6-inch bed width, which is also the least expensive. Many DIY-ers though will upgrade their machine by buying an 8-inch bed width jointer for more efficiency, and they consider this model as a long-term investment. 12-inch bed width models are typically used for industrial applications.
The jointer’s cutting depth will determine the number of passes you’ll need to make with a piece of wood to achieve the desired straightness. For most hobbyist work, a jointer with a ½” to ¾” cutting depth is generally preferable.
Also remember: a piece of wood should need at least a couple of passes across the jointer to produce a smooth and parallel surface. For instance – if you use a jointer with a 5/8-inch cutting depth, the first pass may not provide an adequate cutting depth, and that still leaves the wood’s surface rough and uneven. You may need to pass the wood a couple or more times in order to straighten it completely.
As far as the jointer’s motor power is concerned, about one horsepower is a standard. This is enough to smoothen many kinds of wood, even softwood and other exotic types of wood, with relative ease.
Using a jointer in straightening a piece of wood will surely accumulate dusts and debris, so choosing a jointer that comes with a dust collection system is equally important.
Jointers are available in open stand, closed stand and bench top models. People generally prefer the closed stand jointers as they are more stable to work on, and offer a superior level of performance compared to bench top and open stand models.
Using a jointer safely: Although all jointers have a blade guard, care should still be exercised to keep your hands away from the cutting blades. Using push blocks or push sticks will keep your hands safe from getting accidentally cut or wounded. Buy some push blocks or make one yourself – it is a must-have accessory!
Also, make sure to read the manual that comes with the unit, and understand and follow its safety rules. Since using a jointer may create some noise and produce debris that can fly and hit your eyes, it's always a good idea to wear a hearing protection and safety goggles.