Jointer size


Bluesssman
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I see this is your first post... so welcome to the group.

 

I anticipate you will generate a fair amount of feedback here on this topic.  For me, and after a fair bit of research here and elsewhere, I went as big as i could afford.  Which in my case was a 8" Powermatic with a helical head.  The answer for you will lie in what you intend to do with the jointer and what you can afford.  The overwhelming advice I had found was to go with at least 8" if you can.  However many here have been happy with there 6" units for many years so don't let that dissuade you.

 

Do a search of the forum when you are able and you will find a bunch of great advice.

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There has been a great deal of discussion here over jointer size!  Ultimately, it depends on your needs.

 

For me, a 6" with a long bed does about 90% of what I want it to do and I just can't justify the extra cost when I'm capable of doing that other 10% other ways.

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Welcome to the forum. What type of woodworking do you do and plan to do in the future? Although it is easy to spit out 8" with spiral head, that very much could be way more jointer than you need.

More info about you and your space and intended use could help us give better guidance.

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An argument can be made that an 8" can actually save you money in the long run...most FAS lumber comes in average widths between 6-8", so if you only have a 6" capacity, you'll be creating more waste in order to fit your boards on the jointer.  Or you'll be using more boards to create panels, which doesn't directly cost you anything, but the fewer boards in a panel the better they look...and time is money (or for the average hobbyist...MORE valuable than money) so there is some hidden cost there if you look at it that way.  8" for the win...if you can afford it.  I'd rather have an 8" Grizzly than a 6" PM if it comes down to that choice.

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I have the 6" powermatic, at the time it was all I wanted to afford.  Yes, if I were to turn back time I'd buy an 8" helical head model and hold off on some other purchases.  But that is classic monday morning quarterbacking.  The reality is have a good quality jointer has improved my projects and enjoyment 1000%.  

 

All that being said, I find the power more limiting than the width.  Face jointing a long, 6" wide hard maple board really does strain the motor.  

 

In a perfect world, I would have bought a 220v 8" wide model.  Not for the width as much as the power and bed length.  

 

So here is my advice:  set a budget and buy the best jointer you can with that budget.  If is a 6" grizzly, then you have your answer.  If it is a 12" powermatic, then you have your answer.   A good jointer is 1000% better than no jointer.   Personally, I would not mess around with a used model unless you are very mechanically interested and inclinded.  

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Im on the other side I bought by 12" powermatic with a shelix head and since I use my jointer for all that its worth I switched out to the straight knife. I didn't know when I bought it that you loose rabbeting and the cut depth was limited. Just something more to think about.

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Im on the other side I bought by 12" powermatic with a shelix head and since I use my jointer for all that its worth I switched out to the straight knife. I didn't know when I bought it that you loose rabbeting and the cut depth was limited. Just something more to think about.

You lose rabbeting? How so? I have never rabbeted with a jointer and not sure i would but I'm curious how the shelix head makes that difference.
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You lose rabbeting? How so? I have never rabbeted with a jointer and not sure i would but I'm curious how the shelix head makes that difference.

There is no cutters on the end of a shelix straight knives have cutters sharpened on the ends just for rebate cutting. Rabbets on the jointer are quick and clean.

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There is no cutters on the end of a shelix straight knives have cutters sharpened on the ends just for rebate cutting. Rabbets on the jointer are quick and clean.

So on a straight knife head there are additional knifes for rabbeting? I thought it was just done with the end of the knifes? I never tried on my old straight knife cutters so i have no clue how it works. Or maybe my other jointers never had the capability.
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So there are really three different aspects of "size" to consider: cutter width, table length, and motor power. Cutter width determines the max width of boards you can face joint. So a 6" jointer is limited to 6" or less wide boards. Bumping up to 8" doesn't seem like that big of a difference but it really is. If you can afford to go to 8" then I highly recommend doing it. Table length determines how long of boards the machine can effectively flatten. Unfortunately long tables also take up a lot of space. And motor size can determine how much wood can be taken off in each pass. Deeper cuts and especially face joints on wide stock will strain the motor more.

I personally bought a used powermatic 8" model from when they were still made in the USA. I think it's a mid to late 90s model. It has shorter tables than modern powermatic 8" models. I don't recall the exact length right now but about the same as most new 6" models. That actually works well for me since my shop is pretty small and I can just use hand planes on really long boards when I need them full length. I don't know the exact motor size but it's a 110v motor, so I'd guess 1.5hp. I've never had any problems face jointing wide boards, though I never try to take more than 1/16" per pass. Usually I shoot more for 1/32". I figure if a 110v lunchbox planer can handle similar cuts on 12-13" wide boards my jointer can definitely handle 8" wide.

Mechanically jointers aren't very complicated so I think it's a good tool to consider buying used. If the motor and bearings are in good shape and the tables are flat it isn't much work to get it tuned up and ready to rock. Just bring a good straightedge to evaluate it before you buy it. You may need to shim the dovetailed ways to get the tables coplanar but that isn't hard. And new knives (or a jig to sharpen the existing ones if they are in decent shape) are easy enough to obtain. You will probably need some way of setting the knives, but you'd need that for a new one as well unless you get a helical head.

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So on a straight knife head there are additional knifes for rabbeting? I thought it was just done with the end of the knifes? I never tried on my old straight knife cutters so i have no clue how it works. Or maybe my other jointers never had the capability.

No the knives are sharpened on the end. I don't know of any straight knife jointer that can't rabbet. There is also depth of cut. Which is useful especially for tapering. The ledge that the guard attaches to is there not just to hold the guard its for rabbiting. No the end knives for the a shelix you posted below don't help with depth of cut so doesn't make rabbiting very efficient as it is with straight knives.

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No the knives are sharpened on the end. I don't know of any straight knife jointer that can't rabbet. There is also depth of cut. Which is useful especially for tapering. The ledge that the guard attaches to is there not just to hold the guard its for rabbiting. No the end knives for the a shelix you posted below don't help with depth of cut so doesn't make rabbiting very efficient as it is with straight knives.

Ahhh. Good to know. Thanks Don.
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