woodworking jointer-problems-causes-fixes

Jointer Problems, Causes & Fixes

Straightening the frustrations of a “simple” machine

While many jointer problems are related to technique, there are real mechanical/alignment issues that while less common can be equally frustrating. Keep in mind that bad technique often imitates a mechanical problem so you have to consider both causes. It is crucial to be certain that technique is not the problem BEFORE you start adjusting a jointer. Over the years I have heard from many woodworkers who adjusted perfectly aligned jointers out of whack while trying to cure a cut problem that turned out to be a technique issue. woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners

The problems and fixes below are arranged in the order of their frequency in my email. Roughly 20-percent of my overall email regards problems with jointers and the cuts they make. Though many of the “fixes” below are hardware related, always start by checking your technique. It is far easier to confirm technique than to restore what used to be the perfect alignment of your jointer. woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners

Ripples

woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners
Though hard to see in a photo, the ripples (arrows) will show up in a finished joint. In most cases one high knife or an overly fast feed rate is the culprit. Start with the feed rate!
woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners
 woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners

Ripples, or waves in the jointed surface can be caused by one knife being slightly higher (roughly by the depth of the ripple) than the rest. The other cause is using too fast of a feed rate. Rarely a combination of both of these can arise but that is very infrequent. woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners

Checking for the knife height is pretty straightforward. We want all of the knives flush with the outfeed table surface at the top of their arc. The knives also must be parallel to the table surface across their full width. The amount that a knife must be above the others to produce ripples is tiny, in the thousandths of an inch range. Consequently, taking your time to set the knives right the first time can save a bunch of time and frustration, not to mention avoiding resetting of the knives later. woodworking tips and techniques woodworking tips and tricks for beginners

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