What Is a Jointer Used for Woodworking

Woodworking projects require a high level of accuracy and precision to achieve professional-quality results. One tool that plays a significant role in achieving these qualities is a jointer. In this article, we will explore what a jointer is used for in woodworking and how it contributes to the overall success of a project.

A jointer is a versatile woodworking tool that helps create flat, smooth, and straight surfaces on wood. It removes imperfections such as twists, cups, and warps by shaving off small amounts of material from the surface. This process not only results in a more visually appealing finish but also ensures seamless joinery when pieces are fitted together.

Understanding the basics of a jointer is essential to fully utilize its capabilities. In the following sections of this article, we will delve into the definition and function of a jointer, exploring how it works and examining different types commonly used in woodworking. By gaining an understanding of its mechanics and functions, woodworkers can make informed decisions when selecting the right jointer for their projects.

Understanding the Basics

A jointer is an essential tool in woodworking that plays a crucial role in achieving accuracy and precision. Its primary purpose centers around creating flat, smooth, and straight surfaces on wood, making it an indispensable tool for carpenters, furniture makers, and hobbyists alike. The mechanics involved in using a jointer may seem complex at first, but understanding its basic functions can greatly enhance the quality of woodworking projects.

At its core, a jointer is designed to remove imperfections from rough lumber and create perfectly flat surfaces. It consists of a sturdy tabletop and an adjustable cutting head equipped with sharp knives or blades. As the piece of wood is fed over the table while making contact with the cutting head’s rotating blades, any high spots or irregularities are trimmed away, resulting in a level surface.

There are several types of jointers commonly used in woodworking. The most common ones include benchtop jointers, which are compact and portable; floor-standing jointers that are larger and more robust for heavy-duty work; and helical head jointers, which feature spiral-shaped cutter heads for improved cutting performance. Each type has its own advantages depending on the specific woodworking needs and available workspace.

To use a jointer effectively for face jointing – one of its primary functions – there are several steps to follow. First, ensure that all safety precautions are in place, such as wearing protective goggles and keeping hands clear of the cutting area. Next, adjust the fence on the jointer table according to the desired angle or bevel.

Place the rough lumber on the table with one face down and push it firmly against the fence to keep it steady during operation. Then slowly feed it through the cutter head while applying even pressure to achieve an even result.

By understanding the basics of how a jointer works and exploring its different types, woodworkers can gain valuable insights into how this tool can enhance their woodworking projects. The next section will delve into the core purpose of a jointer, which is achieving flat, smooth, and straight surfaces on wood.

The Core Purpose

A jointer plays a crucial role in achieving flat, smooth, and straight surfaces in woodworking projects. When working with wood, it is essential to have precise and even surfaces for various purposes such as joining pieces together or creating a seamless finish. The core purpose of a jointer is to eliminate imperfections, create uniform thickness, and straighten edges for optimal joinery.

One of the main functions of a jointer is to create flat surfaces on wood. Wood often has natural imperfections such as bumps, twists, or warps that can affect the final result of a project. A jointer helps by removing these imperfections and leveling the surface.

It uses rotating knives to cut into the wood’s surface at a depth determined by the user. By running the wood through the jointer multiple times, it gradually eliminates any irregularities and creates a flat and even surface.

In addition to creating flat surfaces, a jointer also helps in achieving smooth finishes on wood. When using rough lumber or reclaimed wood, there may be rough spots or uneven textures that need to be smoothed out. The jointer allows craftsmen to remove these inconsistencies with its cutting blades. By slowly shaving off layers of wood, the jointer smooths out the surface and leaves behind a polished result.

Creating straight edges is another important aspect of woodworking that can be achieved with a jointer. Joining two pieces of wood together requires accurate measurements and precise cuts. A jointer ensures that the edges are straight by trimming them at an angle perpendicular to their surfaces. This creates perfectly straight edges that can then be easily joined using techniques like glueing or doweling.

To summarize, a jointer serves as an indispensable tool for achieving flat, smooth, and straight surfaces in woodworking projects. Its ability to remove imperfections and level uneven areas makes it an essential component in creating professional-quality results. Whether it’s smoothing out rough lumber or preparing edges for seamless joinery, a jointer is a vital asset for any woodworker.

How to Use a Jointer for Face Jointing

Step 1: Setting up the Jointer

Before using a jointer for face jointing, it is important to properly set up the machine. Start by ensuring that the jointer is securely anchored to a stable surface, such as a workbench or stand. Check that the infeed and outfeed tables are parallel to each other and at the same height. Adjust them if necessary to achieve this alignment.

Step 2: Preparing the Wood

Once the jointer is set up, prepare the wood for face jointing. Begin by determining which side of the board will be facing down when running it through the jointer. This should be based on which side has fewer imperfections or defects. Mark this side with an “X” to avoid confusion later on.

Next, place your wood on a flat surface with the marked side facing downward. Use a pencil or marker to draw a straight line along one edge of the board. This line will serve as your reference during face jointing and will guide you in achieving a straight, flat surface.

Step 3: Face Jointing Process

Now that everything is prepared, it’s time to start face jointing with your jointer:

  1. Begin by adjusting the depth of cut on your jointer according to your desired result. For finer cuts, make smaller adjustments and take multiple passes over each section of the wood.
  2. Stand at one end of the jointer table and turn on the machine. Wait until it reaches full speed before proceeding.
  3. With your wood firmly held against both tables (infeed and outfeed), push it gently forward into the rotating cutterhead. Apply consistent pressure throughout each pass.
  4. Continue pushing your wood across the entire length of the cutterhead until you reach its opposite end, maintaining even pressure and avoiding any sudden movements that could result in snipe or unevenness.
  5. Repeat the process, taking lighter and shallower passes if necessary to achieve the desired level of smoothness and flatness on the face of your wood.
Best Hand Planes For Woodworking

Remember to exercise caution and prioritize safety when using a jointer. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses and ear protection. Keep your hands clear of the cutterhead, and never attempt to make adjustments while the machine is still running.

By following these steps, you can effectively use a jointer for face jointing and achieve flat, smooth surfaces that are essential for high-quality woodworking projects.

Edge Jointing with a Jointer

Understanding the Importance of Edge Jointing

When it comes to woodworking projects, strong and seamless edges are crucial for achieving high-quality results. Whether you are working on furniture, cabinetry, or any other woodwork, properly joining edges ensures structural stability and a professional finish. This is where edge jointing with a jointer plays a vital role.

The Process of Edge Jointing

Edge jointing involves creating a straight and even surface on the long edges of multiple boards that will be joined together. A jointer helps to remove any imperfections, such as warps or twists, from these edges to create precise and tight-fitting joints.

To begin the process of edge jointing, adjust the fence on your jointer to ensure it is perfectly square to the table. This alignment is crucial in achieving accurate results. Once your jointer is properly set up, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the boards: Start by carefully selecting the boards you want to join together based on their thickness and quality. Make sure they are free from major defects or excessive knots.
  2. Face Joint one edge: Before proceeding with edge jointing, it is recommended to face joint one edge of each board using a jointer or planer. This will ensure that one reference face and edge are completely flat and straight.
  3. Arrange the boards: Align the flat reference edges of all the boards so that they can be fed through the jointer consecutively without shifting or tilting during the process.
  4. Joint each board: Turn on your jointer and place the first board flat against the fence with its reference edge down on the table. Push it steadily into the rotating cutterhead while applying firm pressure downward against both surfaces until it has passed through.
  5. Check for consistency: After each pass through the jointer, inspect the freshly-jointed edge for consistency in terms of flatness and smoothness. Adjust the fence or make any necessary changes before jointing the next board.
  6. Repeat the process: Continue this process for each board, always using the freshly-jointed edge as a reference guide against the fence until all edges are properly jointed.

Common Challenges and Troubleshooting Tips

While edge jointing with a jointer may seem straightforward, it is important to be aware of common challenges that may arise and how to overcome them. One common issue is tear-out, which occurs when the cutterhead lifts fibers rather than cutting cleanly. To minimize tear-out, pay attention to the direction of grain on each board and adjust your feed rate accordingly.

Another challenge can be achieving consistent results across all boards, particularly if they vary in thickness or hardness. To ensure uniformity, take lighter passes on thicker or harder boards and check for flatness regularly during the process.

Additionally, it is important to note that longer boards may prove more difficult to edge joint due to their length. In these cases, consider using auxiliary support such as outfeed rollers or stands to maintain stability and control throughout the jointing process.

By following these steps and troubleshooting tips while edge jointing with a jointer, you can achieve strong and seamless edges that will result in superior joinery in your woodworking projects. Remember to prioritize safety by wearing appropriate protective gear and always following manufacturer guidelines when operating the jointer.

Additional Functions

While the primary purpose of a jointer is to achieve flat, smooth, and straight surfaces in woodworking, it also offers additional functions that enhance its versatility. In addition to face and edge jointing, a jointer can be used for beveling, chamfering, and tapering wood. These additional functions open up new possibilities for creativity and customization in woodworking projects.

One of the key additional functions of a jointer is beveling. Beveling involves removing material at an angle from the edge or surface of the wood to create angled edges or decorative features. A jointer can be used to easily and accurately create beveled edges on wooden pieces such as table legs or picture frames. By adjusting the fence angle on the jointer and passing the wood through, you can achieve precise beveled edges with clean lines.

Chamfering is another function that a jointer can perform. Chamfering refers to cutting or shaping the corners of a wooden piece to create a soft, angled edge. This technique is often used to add decorative elements to furniture or trim pieces. With a jointer, you can easily control the depth and angle of the chamfer cuts by adjusting the fence position and taking multiple passes over the wood.

Tapering is yet another function that can be accomplished with a jointer. Tapering involves reducing the thickness or width of a wooden piece gradually from one end to another. This technique is commonly used in furniture making to create elegant profiles on table legs or chair arms. By carefully adjusting the height of the infeed table on a jointer, you can achieve consistent and precise tapers on your wooden pieces.

Choosing the Right Jointer for Your Woodworking Needs

When it comes to woodworking, having the right tools is essential to ensure accurate and precise results. One such tool that plays a crucial role in achieving professional-quality woodworking projects is a jointer.

However, with various types and sizes of jointers available in the market, choosing the right one for your woodworking needs can be overwhelming. In this section, we will discuss key factors to consider when purchasing a jointer and provide expert advice on selecting the most suitable one for specific woodworking projects.

  1. Type of Jointer: There are several types of jointers available, including benchtop jointers, stationary jointers, and helical head jointers. Benchtop jointers are portable and suitable for small-scale projects or limited workshop space. Stationary or floor-standing jointers offer larger working surfaces, more power, and stability for larger projects. Helical head jointers have spiral cutterheads that produce smoother cuts but come at a higher cost.
  2. Size and Capacity: The size of the jointer refers to the width of the cutting surface, usually ranging from 6 inches to 16 inches. Consider the average size of your woodworking projects and choose a jointer that can comfortably accommodate them. Additionally, pay attention to the depth capacity of the jointer to ensure it can handle thick pieces of wood if needed.
  3. Fence Adjustability: The fence is an important component of a jointer as it helps guide the wood during cutting and ensures straight edges. Look for a jointer with an adjustable fence that allows you to set accurate angles and maintain consistent results across your projects.
  4. Motor Power: The motor power determines how effectively the blades cut through hardwood or thicker pieces of wood. For general woodworking tasks, a motor power between 1-2 horsepower should be sufficient. However, if you frequently work with hardwood or require deeper cuts, consider opting for a higher horsepower motor.
  5. Cutterhead Design: There are two main types of cutterheads for jointers – helical heads and straight knife heads. Helical heads consist of several small, carbide cutters arranged in a spiral pattern. This design reduces tear-out and produces smoother cuts but comes with a higher price tag. Straight knife heads are more common, easier to replace blades, and generally more affordable.
Craftsman Woodworking Plans

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing the right jointer for your woodworking needs. Remember that investing in a quality jointer will not only enhance the precision of your projects but also save you time and effort in achieving professional results.

Maintenance and Safety Tips for Using a Jointer

When using a jointer for woodworking projects, it is important to prioritize both maintenance and safety. By properly maintaining your jointer, you can ensure its optimal performance and longevity. Additionally, following safety guidelines while operating the machine will help prevent accidents and injuries. In this section, we will discuss key maintenance tips and safety precautions to consider when using a jointer.

To keep your jointer in excellent working condition, regular maintenance is essential. First and foremost, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for routine maintenance tasks. This may include cleaning the jointer after each use to remove wood chips and debris that can affect its performance. Lubricating moving parts regularly with appropriate oils or lubricants is also crucial to promote smooth operation.

Additionally, pay attention to the cutting blades of your jointer. Over time, these blades may become dull or develop nicks that can impact the quality of your woodworking projects. Check the blades periodically and replace them if necessary. It is recommended to rotate or flip the blades occasionally as well, ensuring they wear evenly.

In terms of safety, there are several precautions you should take when using a jointer. Firstly, always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety glasses or goggles and hearing protection. The noise produced by a jointer can be damaging to your ears over time.

Before starting any project on your jointer, inspect the machine thoroughly for any loose parts or defects that may require repairs or adjustments. Ensure that all guards are in place and functioning correctly before turning on the power.

When operating a jointer, it is crucial to maintain proper posture and stability. Stand firmly with feet shoulder-width apart to maintain balance while feeding the wood through the machine. This will help prevent accidents caused by losing control of the wood piece being processed.

Finally, never attempt to force-feed a piece of wood through a jointer that seems resistant or difficult to flatten. This can result in kickbacks or other dangerous situations. Instead, take lighter passes and gradually adjust the depth of cut until you achieve the desired results.

By following these maintenance tips and safety precautions, you can effectively use a jointer for your woodworking projects while keeping yourself safe from accidents or injuries. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when working with power tools like a jointer.


In conclusion, the jointer plays a vital role in woodworking projects by ensuring accuracy and precision. Throughout this article, we have explored the definition and function of a jointer, its ability to create flat and smooth surfaces, as well as its application in face and edge jointing. Additionally, we have discussed the versatility of a jointer in beveling, chamfering, and tapering wood.

A jointer is essential for achieving professional-quality woodworking results. Its ability to create flat and even surfaces is crucial for successful joinery and ensures that projects are structurally sound. By using a jointer to remove imperfections and achieve a smooth finish, woodworkers can elevate the overall aesthetics of their creations.

Furthermore, utilizing a jointer for face and edge jointing allows for seamless joinery, resulting in strong and tight-fitting connections between pieces of wood. The process of face jointing with a jointer has been outlined step-by-step along with safety precautions to ensure a successful outcome. Similarly, edge jointing using a jointer enables precise edges that enhance the final product’s quality.

Beyond these core functions, the versatility of a jointer extends to beveling, chamfering, and tapering wood. These additional capabilities open up new possibilities for woodworking projects and allow woodworkers to experiment with various designs.

When purchasing a jointer, it is important to consider factors such as size and type based on specific project needs. It is also crucial to prioritize regular maintenance to keep the jointer performing optimally. Additionally, following safety precautions is imperative when operating this powerful tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a planer and a jointer?

The primary difference between a planer and a jointer lies in their respective functions and how they shape wood. A planer is designed to smooth out the surface of a board, making it even and flat by removing thin layers of material consistently across its width.

On the other hand, a jointer is used to flatten one face of a board and create one straight edge that runs perfectly perpendicular to that face. It accomplishes this by removing twists and warps from the rough lumber, ensuring that the board’s surface is flat.

Do I need a jointer for woodworking?

Whether or not you need a jointer for woodworking depends on your specific projects and requirements. If you frequently work with rough lumber that needs to be flattened or straightened, then a jointer would indeed prove highly useful.

However, if you predominantly work with pre-surfaced lumber or smaller projects where precise flattening isn’t critical, then owning a jointer may not be essential. Many woodworkers find alternative methods like hand planes or router sleds sufficient for their needs when dealing with occasional flattening tasks.

Why would you need a jointer?

There are multiple reasons why someone might need a jointer when working with wood. Firstly, a jointer allows craftsmen to start with rough lumber and transform it into boards with perfectly flat surfaces and straight edges. This capability improves the accuracy and quality of subsequent woodworking processes such as joinery assembly or table saw cutting.

Additionally, jointers are integral in creating well-matched edges for glue-ups, ensuring seamless bonding between multiple pieces of wood for stronger structures or panels. Lastly, having access to a jointer enables woodworkers to rectify any warping or twisting issues in boards before using them in projects, resulting in better overall aesthetics and functionality in the final piece of crafted furniture or woodworking project.

Send this to a friend