Two Views On Jointer Ownership

I Need A Jointer
by Dave Warren

Do You need one... I don't know.

We hear this question all the time.

Last night I had a conversation with a friend and fellow woodworker whose opinion I respect. We got into the "You don't need a jointer/you can't live without a jointer" discussion. I am the one who can't live without it. Four power tools in my shop are absolute necessities for me, table saw, jointer, router, & thickness planer. I edge join practically every board on every project wether that edge is going to be "joined" to another or not. All exposed edges on my projects were run across the jointer before they were sanded.

My friend uses a router/straight bit/straight edge to achieve the straight side I get from my jointer. To me this would be an unnecessary hassle unless there was a dedicated router and space setup permanently just for this task... to my friend it's no big deal.

Face jointing to my friend isn't an issue because he buys all of his lumber S2S. He admittedly spends an extraordinary amount of time at the lumber yard hand picking boards that have no cup or twist and therefore feels the finish from his supplier is fine. I usually buy rough lumber but even on S2S lumber I've gotten (which was planed to 7/8) I've still needed to face join at times to flatten some boards before planing. I too spend time hand picking my lumber but can consider a slightly cupped/twisted board if it's the right size or maybe particularly pretty. Since our conversation I've tried to imagine going to any lumber yard I've ever been to and hand picking 100bf of lumber with no cupped or twisted boards. I've imagined an absolute day wasting nightmare and in most cases a near impossibility.

My friend is satisfied with the edge his table saw produces for joining... I'm not. I've got a well tuned, high quality table saw with high quality blades but always run ‘em through the jointer before I glue. I'll admit being anal about that tiny little saw mark that you need a magnifier to see once the edges are glued because it probably won't make a hill of beans to the finished product.

I hardly ever use plywood and I enjoy building furniture much more than cabinetry. I grew up using my Dad's shop where a quality jointer was a fixture (Powermatic 8") and was taught to use it just like I was taught to use a table saw so I learned the virtues of the machine. My friend is a talented self taught woodworker and once owned a cheezy little 4" jointer that IMO doesn't do the things a jointer should do. I think this experience has left a bad taste in his mouth for jointers and he never got to realize the utility of the machine.

My friend and I both build nice furniture. Is mine nicer than his because I have a jointer?... No. So why haven't I taken the jointer off my "absolute necessity" list? I'm a hobbyist. I work a full time, maintain a house & family, and get less shop time than I'd like. My jointer saves me woodworking time (and I feel lots of it) which I have precious little of. There is nothing I can do that my friend can't do, I can just do it a lot faster. Even if I were a professional I'd sure want to have a jointer to get those projects out the door.

I realize there's more than one way to skin a cat (I just had to fit that old cliche in here. My dislike for domestic felines makes it one of my favorites).

So My Friend (who reads this forum regularly) this is why a jointer is a must have for me.

Dave Warren - 9/2/97

Do I Need A Jointer? Not Right Now
by Ron Duncan

Funny, I also had a conversation with a respected friend last night about the same subject. The tools I can't or don't want to get along without are a table saw, router, thickness planer, and a good palm or orbital sander. I try to do as little joining as possible.

If I need a wide board I turn to an excellent grade of veneered plywood. I prefer plywood for several reasons. Mostly for it's stability, even grain pattern and flatness. If I need a hundred board feet of mahogany I can buy four sheets of top quality plywood and I don't have to pick thru a wood pile, join, or plane it. I also save more than $100. Talk about time saving! Of course I have to put a hardwood edge on it in some places but with the thickness planer and my sander, edges are pretty quick work.

I seldom glue up hardwood unless I am raising a panel or something special. For most projects I will probably need less than 25 board feet of hardwood which is usually 6 or so boards. Straightening one edge with a router is a messy, not fun chore but I only need 8' of space and it goes rather quickly. I doubt running an 8' board across a jointer is a real pleasure. If I do glue up a panel I join the edge by taking off about 1/16" with the table saw and if the grain is right it is near impossible to see the joint. Seldom do I use widths over 4", so the controversy over kiln or air dried is of no concern to me. I buy what is available in Las Vegas and take it home and use it. I have never had anything split on me. If rough lumber was available around here I am sure I would need a jointer, but it's not, so a jointer is down on my list.

My next tool will be a band saw and then a lathe because there are things I can't build without them. I would like a jointer someday and will have one, as I realize they can do more than jointing, but do I need one now? NO. Does Dave need one? YES.

There is more than one way to skin a rabbit. Personally, I like cats and would never skin one!

Dave, your points are very well stated!

Ron Duncan - 9/2/97


Badger Pond WebWorking