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Q & A: Jointer Quandary

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Q & A: Jointer Quandary


Q:

I’ve been having trouble getting boards straight their full length on my new jointer. I spent an hour carefully resetting the knives, but that didn’t help. Do you think it’s me or the machine?


A:

Could be either! First,we’ll assume that your jointer’s infeed and outfeed tables are straight and parallel. Then, the answer may lie in changing your jointing technique or minutely adjusting the height of your jointer’s outfeed table.Here are three common pitfalls and how to avoid them.


Problem

Persistent Convex Edge

Sometimes an edge remains curved every time you joint it.

Solution

Joint the Belly First

This is a problem of technique, not an incorrectly adjusted machine. Jointing a long, convex board is difficult because rocking it is so easy.Try this: Joint the center of the board first.Take a few passes to make a solid and true reference surface.Then make longer and longer cuts until you joint the full length of the board.



Problem

A Sniped End

Sometimes a jointer takes a heavy bite at the tail end of a board.

Solution

Raise the Outfeed Table

Although you did your best to set the knives level, it doesn’t always work. You’ll see the dreaded snipe if the outfeed table is even a tiny bit below the tallest knife. Loosen the gib screws on the back side of your jointer, raise the outfeed table a hair and try jointing again. Keep raising the table by very small amounts until the snipe disappears, then lock down the gib screws.



Problem

A Tapered Cut

Sometimes a cut mysteriously trails off to nothing.

Solution

Lower the Outfeed Table

Rule out the possibility that you’re dealing with a slightly convex edge before changing any settings. Start fresh with a 2- to 3-ft.-long board that’s been ripped straight on the tablesaw. Draw a pencil line down the sawn edge and joint the board. If the tail end of the line remains visible, you’ve got an outfeed table that’s too high. Lower the table until you get a sniped cut, then raise the table until the snipe goes away.




This story originally appeared in American Woodworker December, 2001.

December, 2001

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