The first thing you notice about this jointer is that is it big. It comes in two pieces, the first is the jointer itself in a crate 5'x2'x1.5' and weighs 400 lbs. The second piece is the stand which comes in a box 3'x2'x1.5' and weighs 100 lbs. Both the crate and the box appeared to offer good protection from all but the most careless transportation companies. All associated parts came either in the crate with the jointer or packed inside the stand.
The jointer was covered with so much cosmolin that it took about 1-1/2 hours to clean all the parts, make sure they were all there, and get them ready for assembly. The assembly process itself took about 2 hours and is very straight forward, which was a good thing because the manual assumed that the unit came as one piece with no assembly required. More on the manual later. The power cord is supplied with no plug attached. This worked well for me because I always cut them off and install twist-lock plugs, but this might be an inconvenience for others who use the standard 220V pronged outlets. After mounting the jointer to the stand, the motor pulley had to be aligned to the cutterhead pulley, an inconvenience but not a problem. The only real problem with assembly was the motor connection. The diagram in manual did not even come close to matching what the motor terminals looked like. Now I'm a electrical engineer by profession with a few years of experience with motors and I must admit that it took quite a bit of educated guessing to get it right on the first try. I consider myself lucky. I guess what I'm trying to say is if you have any doubt about getting this right, get help form someone who knows. Before turning on the machine, I'm thankful I had the foresight to check the tightness of the blades. They were not tight at all and I hate to think what would have happen had they chosen to take flight. Other things of note: the jointer is put together with a mixture of SAE and metric screws and bolts and it was a good thing that Jet includes a can of touch up paint, as there were quite a few edges and spots that needed to be touched up.
With the jointer now assembled and functioning, it was time to fine tune it. A check of the tables for flatness revealed that the infeed table was absolutely flat and the outfeed table was flat with a 3" diameter depression located at the middle of the far end of the table. It's depth was less than 0.002". Though not earth shattering, it left me feeling less than joyous. Both tables proved to be perfectly parallel or at least better than what I could determine. The rabbiting ledge was not set flush or parallel to the infeed table and had to be corrected. The fence was tested out as flat. The cutterhead was found to be 0.003" high at the back end when measured from the outfeed table and required shimming to correct. The knives were not even close to being set right which might have been due to the fact that they were shipped loose. This jointer has no spindle locks or witness marks to denote top dead center for knife setting, and while this again is inconvenient it is not too much of a problem to determine. One thing you will want to do is to throw away the supplied knife setting jig and get a MagnaSet. It was definitely worth the extra bucks. The knives lock in place with square headed setscrews that were very hard to get a wrench on when they were at the wrong angle, hex headed setscrews would have been better, and will be something for me to fix later. Also, jackscrews instead of springs would have made the knives easier to set. Setting the fence proved to be very difficult. I found that after the fence was set square, it would have to be realigned each time the fence was moved in or out. Removing the fence and using a straight edge I found that the ledge that the fence sets on was not inline with the outfeed table. Correcting this greatly reduced the problem but it still exists, and the root cause for this has not yet been determined. All told, I spent about 6 hours with the unpacking, cleaning, assembling, and tweaking.
This jointer has proved to provide surfaces and edges that are as straight and true as possible. It had enough power for me to take an 1/4" off the face of an 7-1/2" wide oak board without even thinking about slowing down. The 66" length of this jointer has taken a lot of the work out of jointing long boards. As a test I jointed two 8' long, not too straght, birch boards; they fit together perfectly after one pass taking off an 3/16" of material. When the depth of cut is dialed back to 1/32" or even 1/16", the surfaces produced are as clean and ripple free as you could hope for.
I really do like the results that this jointer produces, but I am still at odds with myself if it was worth the price. For jointers in the 8"x66" bed size, the Jet JJ-8CS is at the high end of the price range and I expected great things. There was no one thing that makes me feel this way, but rather a lot of little things when taken all together make me wonder if I could have done just as well spending $400 less. Having used it now for a couple of weeks and about 100 bdft, I have but one complaint, the fence still needs some work. All in all, I expect this jointer to last the rest of my life and into the next generation.
Mark Keck - 3/6/98