A jointer is a power tool used in woodworking to flatten and straighten the faces and edges of a piece of wood. It's a key instrument in ensuring accuracy in your woodworking projects, as it allows you to create flat, even surfaces and square edges.
This guide will walk you through the process of using a jointer, from the initial setup to the finishing touches. Remember, as with any power tool, safety should always be your primary concern.
Understanding the Jointer
Before you begin, it's crucial to understand the main parts of a jointer:
- Infeed Table: The section of the jointer where the wood is fed into the machine.
- Outfeed Table: The section where the wood exits the machine.
- Cutter Head: The rotating part with sharp blades that removes material from the wood.
- Fence: The vertical surface against which the wood is pressed to ensure a straight edge.
Safety is paramount when operating any power tool. Here are some precautions to take before using a jointer:
- Wear Safety Equipment: Use safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying wood chips. Use ear protection if you're working for extended periods.
- Avoid Loose Clothing: Loose clothing can get caught in the machine. Wear fitted clothes and avoid wearing jewelry.
- Check the Machine: Ensure the jointer is in good working condition before use. The blades should be sharp and free of nicks, and the fence and tables should be secure.
- Keep the Area Clear: Ensure the area around the jointer is clear of obstructions and debris.
How to Use a Jointer, 8 Steps
- Set Up Your Jointer: Ensure your jointer is on a stable, level surface. The infeed and outfeed tables should be parallel. If they're not, refer to your jointer's manual on how to adjust them.
- Adjust the Cutting Depth: Set the depth of cut on your jointer. For hardwood, a depth of 1/16 inch is recommended. For softer woods, you can go up to 1/8 inch. Remember, a shallower cut will give you a smoother finish.
- Prepare the Wood: Mark the face or edge of the wood that you want to joint with a pencil. This will help you see your progress and ensure you're removing material evenly.
- Start the Jointer: Turn on the jointer and wait for it to reach full speed before you start jointing.
- Feed the Wood: Hold the wood firmly and flat against the infeed table and fence. Push the wood across the cutter head, moving from the infeed table to the outfeed table. Always feed the wood against the direction of the cutter.
- Complete the Pass: Keep pushing the wood across the cutter until it's completely off the infeed table and onto the outfeed table. Never lift the wood off the cutter while it's still in contact with the infeed table.
- Repeat the Process: Continue making passes until the edge or face is completely flat and smooth. Check your progress using a straightedge or square.
- Turn Off the Machine: Once you're finished, turn off the jointer and wait for the cutter to stop completely before you remove any debris.
Tips for Using a Jointer
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
- Check Your Progress: Use a straight edge or a level to check your progress. If the wood isn't getting flat, adjust the infeed table to remove more material.
- Avoid Over Jointing: Over jointing can cause the wood to become thinner than desired. It's better to make several light passes than one heavy one.
- Maintain Your Jointer: Keep the jointer clean and well-maintained. Sharpen or replace the blades as needed.
Operating a jointer can be intimidating at first, but with practice, you'll find it's an invaluable tool in your woodworking arsenal. Always respect the power of the machine and follow all safety protocols to ensure a safe and successful woodworking experience.