Want to take your shop and woodworking skills to the next level? Jointers provide a great opportunity to do this. The way they mill bowed pieces to a perfect finish is a joy to watch.
However, often time hobbyists are pushed for space and money and had to look for something less expensive, lightweight, and easy to move with. And that’s where a benchtop jointer comes in. They allow you to remove wide swathes of wood at a time, make perfect cuts and joinery between two boards without being overly bulky.
In this best benchtop jointer article, we will look at some of the top rated benchtop jointers and evaluate the bells and whistles they come with.
The market is full of claims nowadays, making it difficult to compare between models, and maintaining skepticism is, therefore, more important than ever. That’s what we did during our research phase ensuring that the information on the manufacturer’s website is genuine.
With that said, here are our top 5 best benchtop jointers for small scale workshops:
- Best Benchtop Helical Jointer: RIKON 20-600H 6″
- Best Benchtop Jointer For Beginners: Delta 37-071
- Best 8 Inch Benchtop Jointer: Wahuda Tool 50180CC-WHD
- Best 6 Inch Benchtop Jointer: PORTER CABLE PC160JT
- Best Benchtop Jointer Planer Combo: Jet JJP-8BT 8”
Top 5 Benchtop Jointers: Comparison Table
In order to decide what benchtop jointer will work best for you, don’t forget to check our in-depth buying guide and FAQs at the end. With that being said, let’s dive down and see what makes them all great options.
Best Benchtop Jointers Reviewed And Analyzed
1. Best Benchtop Helical Jointer: Rikon 20-600h 6'' Benchtop Jointer:
When we were researching for the best benchtop jointers we had no trouble picking up Rikon 20-600h into our shortlist. With lasted helical cutterhead design it packs a punch when you need to plane rough lumber with precision hence deserves the top spot.
This benchtop jointer weighs 36 pounds only. However, don’t let this fool you. Its all-metal construction packs excellent durability to fit all jointing needs of a smaller workshop. Apart from being lightweight, the unit is only 1-foot tall means you can move with it freely from your garage to a Jobsite and vice versa.
High Speed Inserts
The machine is equipped with a 10 amp motor that can revolve its high-speed steel inserts as pacey as 11,000 RPM. This is enough speed to tackle demanding planing jobs in your stride.
This particular jointer features 6 rows of helical style cutter head that impart a smoother and quieter finish than straight knives equivalent. In addition to that, each of the carbide inserts has 4-sharp side means you won’t have to replace them or stop working anytime soon.
Ease Of Use
When it comes to user-friendliness, Rikon 20-600h has a lot to offer than most other benchtop jointers out there. For instance, its 30-inch table allows sufficient room for bigger blocks, while the depth setting is made quicker with a scale that is clear and easy to read. The helical inserts are auto-indexed, so no height adjustment is needed.
The fence measure 19-3/4” x4-3/8” to offer a fair amount of support. It allows tilting variations from 90 to 135 degrees in and out to make bevel cuts a breeze.
On the front side of the machine, you have easy access to a handy on/off switch for immediate action. As a bonus, you’ll get safety push blocks and hex wrenches with the purchase.
Rikon 20-600h is the best benchtop jointer you can find under $500. With solid construction, it delivers more beyond just speed and smoothness. Overall, it’s a pretty good deal for any devoted home woodworker.
2. Best Benchtop Jointer for Beginners: Delta Power 37-071 6 Inch
If you just starting out on your woodworking journey and trying to find an affordable benchtop jointer then Delta 37-071 6” is the best option to try. This machine is ideal for small scale projects yet able to process almost all types of woods. Let’s explore the key features below and see how this benchtop jointer measures up.
Cast Iron Construction
Delta 37-071 is built to last. Unlike other competing jointers this benchtop model features a cast iron molded body to boost longevity. Due to this high-quality construction, you’re less likely to experience vibration while flattening, or edging.
The 1.5 HP motor is a showcasing feature of Delta 37-071. For a 6-inch benchtop jointer, this is the highest power configuration anyone can expect. With this, it’s no surprise that the motor is capable of striking up to an impressive 11,000 RPM.
The machine follows a small footprint to leave valuable space in your workshop to gather other stuff. Its precise table configuration ensures long-term accuracy whereas the sturdy fence supports your need for accurate jointing. Moreover, the simple adjusting mechanism allows an easy bevel setting for a home woodworker.
From what we have seen so far it can be easily said that Delta 37-071 is an excellent benchtop jointer for occasional uses. In terms of the price point, it is the best budget benchtop jointer available to date.
3. Best 8 Inch Benchtop Jointer: Wahuda Tool 50180CC-WHD
If you want to make a long-term investment in wood jointers, you might want to consider an 8-inch model. The extra inches are rewarding when it comes to flatten wider boards.
As a renowned USA brand, Wahuda Tool offers leading-edge innovation and 50180CC-WHD is one of their succeeding proof.
Wahuda 50180CC surpasses its competitors in terms of the size of its table. Its L 33.5″ x W 8″ table is the longest in this category, allowing you to surface longer boards without feeling uncomfortable. Thanks to the pullout extension, the table is also expandable to 51-inch lengthwise.
The housing of this product is made of hardened steel, hence reduces vibration during use. The tables are heavy-duty cast iron, therefore they are less likely to warp or develop grooves over time.
Wahuda 50180CC comes with an impressive 24-inch long fence, which for the most part stay true and square. It can be adjusted to 45 degrees in and out for milling various angles. However, the aluminum extruded material has the possibility of losing its shape in the long run which might cause a little concern.
Spiral Cutter Head
Wahuda 50180CC-WHD a perfect candidate for the best benchtop jointer with a spiral cutter head. It’s 8-inch wide but enables you to mill boards up to 10-inches. However, the best part is, due to spiral shape design it delivers finer finish despite making hundreds of repeatable cuts.
If you have the money for it, Wahuda 50180CC-WHD the best benchtop jointer in the market right now. It is an outstanding wood jointer both for amateurs and seasoned woodworkers alike.
4. Best 6 Inch Benchtop Jointer: PORTER CABLE PC160JT
Porter Cable PC160JT follows the small footprint of a full-sized jointer that you can get on a tighter budget. This 6-inch benchtop jointer is highly rated for its ability to surface woods according to their merit. Let’s get into more details and see whether this machine worth your penny.
PC160JT weighs only 35 pounds, thus gives you the opportunity to mill your stocks in your convenient location. On the negative side, the jointer might be prone to tipping if you aim to plane heavier blocks.
Easy Knife Adjustment
Beginners tend to struggle when altering the steel knives on their benchtop jointers. However, that isn’t a case for PC160JT. Thanks to the jackscrew arrangement for making knife adjustment a breeze. Moreover, it has a built-in lock system in place, which means you don’t have to sacrifice your safety by changing the cutter head when needed.
PC160JTprovides an adjustable speed facility (from 6,000 to 11,000 RPM). With this, you can adjust the speed depending on the condition of your woods and achieve desired sharpness.
The jointer feature a powerful 1.4 HP motor to power the cutter head. It secures a robust performance ensuring that you don’t experience issues milling hardwoods.
PC160JT comes with a center-mounted fence to promote accuracy when squaring up edges. You can adjust it from 90 to 135 degrees in both directions. That too will support bevel operation and makes it less hassle for you.
If you are on the market for a benchtop jointer for commercial setup, PC160JT is not the best option to try. Its aluminum fence and tables are built to resist corrosion, but you have to consider that the durability, in the long run, will impair.
In our opinion, this is by no means a catastrophe for an affordable 6-inch jointer. Indeed many professionals highly appreciate its user-friendliness to support small to medium size woodworking projects.
5. Best Benchtop Jointer Planer Combo: Jet JJP-8BT 8”
We are about to end our list of best benchtop jointers. But before we continue to the next section, let’s finish our reviews by looking at a great combination machine. Jet JJP-8BT 8” offers the best means to rip maximum benefits out of your limited shop space and budget. Let’s explore it in more detail below.
The availability of an 8-inch cutter head ensures trouble-free operation when you undertake sawn lumber wider than 6-inches. The two high-rotating knives and 13 amp motor help you get the job done quickly as well.
With a jointing table placed on top and a thickness planer on the bottom, Jet JJP-8BT 8″ is a fully functional combination machine. With this, you can mill your stock and then plane it to a uniform thickness in the convenience of a single unit.
Easy to Use
Jet JJP-8BT features a big ergonomic nob to offer easy height adjustment. Due to this, you can carry on with countless of woods without worrying about the jointing accuracy.
Safer to Operate
The 67 pounds weight is more than enough to tackle the rigor of heavy-duty jointing. In addition, its integrated cord wrap promotes operational safety and eases storage.
If you only have a budget for a benchtop jointer, but want to complete your collection of woodworking tools a combination machine is the best route to go for. Jet JJP-8BT 8″ can make a big difference in your woodworking journey.
Getting the Best Benchtop Jointers: Buying Guide
Choosing the best benchtop jointer requires knowing the type of work you carry out on a regular basis in your workshop. For instance, if you want to flatten bulky timbers, you need to go for a much heavier benchtop jointer. For a hobbyist, budget remains a deciding factor too.
- Can I afford the benchtop jointer?
- Will the price outweigh the benefits for me?
Additionally, invest your time looking at user feedback and think about the criticisms in particular. If you can, seek opinions from experts who run this type of equipment through their laps.
Having said that, gathering these data by yourself will take time which is a limited resource for all of us. Let us help you in this regard and show you the most important features you’ll have to consider when comparing the best benchtop jointers available to date.
Let’s get started!
When we talk about the size of a jointer, we don’t mean how big the machine is. Rather it refers to the length of its cutterhead. To that ends, the number actually decides the width of a panel that you can feed through the jointer and mill it.
Therefore it’s vital to know the dimension of your standard workpieces so that they can access the width of your jointer’s cutter head comfortably.
Talking about jointer size there are two main categories that a woodworking enthusiast should learn about.
6-inch: This category of benchtop jointer is best suited to the needs of a home woodworker. They are beginner-friendly and comes at a cheaper price than their larger counterparts. However, the downside is, due to the lack of extra inches you will struggle to handle bigger boards unless you cut them into workable pieces.
8-inch: When you want to step up a gear and increase your milling capacity as a hobbyist, jointers that boast an 8-inch cutterhead is the best in the business. These machines feature bigger knives and offer longer beds to help you tackle boards wider than 6-inches.
The depth your knives can cut is significant since it determines the number of repetitions you would need to get a clean finish. For the types of works a benchtop jointer performs, ½ inch is a good threshold.
We’ve already discussed the width of a benchtop jointer earlier. To remind you one more time, you would want to invest in a 6 or 8 inches particularly for day to day flattening.
The length of a jointer bed is crucial here as well. It influences both the price and quality of your machine. It’s no brainer to say with extra-long pieces, there is always a risk of losing balance while you work. In this respect, let me inform you that a jointer can fit boards twice the length of its bed.
Regardless of the design of your jointer, smoothness in operation must be ensured. And this lies in the fences that allow positive stops.
Check whether your jointer allows angling variations (45 to 135 degrees)so that bevel cuts can be improved. Also ensure that the fence is perfectly square, robust, and remains stable in use.
Since developing smooth faces is the main reason anybody would opt for a wood jointer, the quality of the table is paramount. In particular, it has to be perfectly straight and parallel to the cutterhead.
In terms of straighter joints, longer tables work best, as long as it doesn’t end up being a burden to your shop space.
There are two prominent types of cutting units seen on wood jointers; straight knives and helical blades. While both of these have their pros and cons, the latter is getting more popular nowadays. The rows of 4-sided helical cutters are likely to produce less noise.
For spiral shapes, they are great at leaving fewer marks than their straight knife equivalents. This, in turn, reduces your effort in shaving woods from lumbers. Last but not least, helical carbides remain sharp for a longer time, therefore saving maintenance costs and downtime significantly.
Due to the nature of tasks a jointer is designed for, its motor specification is widely important. And you may have wondered what the numbers in HP, Volt, and Amp really mean.
If we keep things simple, HP (horsepower) determines the rate at which work is accomplished, and Volt (voltage) defines the electrical potential of a motor.
Amp, on the other hand, measures the volume of current that flows through the circuit. Unlike HP, it doesn’t indicate power, rather indicates how well a motor can cool itself.
Additionally, a term is also used as “single-phase” which basically means the motor needs less power and wiring to turn electrical energy into mechanical forces.
Generally for day to day sharpening, a 1HP-120-volt/10 amp motor is an ideal option. However, if you require one for heavy-duty jointing, a 2HP-220-volts/12 amp motor would be necessary. This will help it run longer, produce more cuts per minute, and prevent quick overheating.
It’s common for a wood jointer to produce a lot of waste when it’s put to use. Having an integrated dust collection is therefore critical to operational safety. At the very least, you should be able to hook up a Shop-Vac to keep your workplace relatively tidy.
How to Use a Benchtop Jointer?
With proper technique sharpening woods on a jointer doesn’t have to be intimidating. It requires a bit of patience to hold on for a few passes until your workpieces finish with smooth and straight edges.
To begin with, you have to determine the required depth of cut and decide how much wood you want to remove. Carefully work out the adjustable knobs and lower your infeed table accordingly. Here are the recommended figures:
- Standard: 1/16-inch
- To shave woods quickly: 1/8-inch
- To finish with a shallow cut: 1/32-inch
Once the table is set to the proper height, you can turn the machine on, and start processing wood over the spinning blades. For smoother cuts, you have to feed your wood slowly on the infeed table and against the fence. Remember to transfer your weight gradually as you move towards the outfeed table.
At this time, you should keep in mind a few things:
- Positing yourself behind the cutter head and against the fence
- Always cut with the grain so the wood doesn’t chip or tear out
- Maintain even feed rate and firmness throughout the jointing operation
- Prepare the concave surface first if your board is bowed or cupped
- Start with several inches from one end until the blade makes little to no contact
- Lift the board and then repeat the same on the other end
How to Maintain a Benchtop Jointer?
Regardless of what they do, all power tools require period attention so that the performance can be maintained for years to come. Wood jointers are no exception to this. In particular, you must keep the blades sharp all the time, check regularly and replace them when they become obsolete.
To maintain the quality of cut bring them to a shop every few weeks that specializes in sharpening. Alternatively, you can do this yourself using a wet wheel grinder. While sharpening, make sure that the same amount of material is removed from each knife so that the cutter head remains true and balanced.
In addition, care must be taken to the jointer table. Wipe it with mineral spirits subsequently to every use so that it remains easy to glide on. Applying wax periodically will come in handy too. Cleaning dust with compressed air after several months of inactivity is also important.
Safety Precaution When Using a Benchtop Jointer
When it comes to milling stocks across a jointer, personal safety is a crucial discussion. Since you’re dealing with sharp knives even a slight excuse can cost you a lot. To save your body parts, there are three main safety checks that you should be mindful of.
Push Paddles & Stick
You can’t see a jointer cutterhead while manipulating your wood over the table. Therefore while jointing your stock, keeping your hand away from the board end is a crucial safeguard.
Otherwise, there is always a possibility of the spinning blades sneaking up on your palm or fingers. Instead of using your hands, you can utilize push shoes or push blocks and avoid unexpected injuries from happening.
Cutter Head Guard
When you’re working with thin boards, a few inches of the cutterhead can get exposed which may bring serious hazards happening to your hand. That’s why you should never take the swiveling guard off the blade and check whether it is in good shape before taking on any jointing task.
Eye & Ear Protection
Be alert to the fact that, jointers have the potential to throw off tiny chips at a moment’s notice. Therefore, the importance of eye-glasses cannot be over-emphasized.
Wearing ear protection while operating a jointer should be addressed as well. Because they use incredibly fast blades, even the lowest decibel helical jointers can get noisy.
In regards to operational safety, here is the checklist you should also note carefully:
- Don’t process wood shorter than 12 inches
- Run a preliminary check; ensure all the crucial machine parts is in proper shape
- Carefully examine the tightness of screws that keep the cutterhead blades in place
- Make sure your shirt tails are tucked in and sleeves rolled up nicely
Frequently Asked Questions
It goes without saying that jointers are a blessing for any woodworker to save a ton on lumbers for years to come. On the flip side, the initial investment is significant as well. To have some doubts in mind is therefore totally understandable especially in the case of a hobbyist. Here are some of the common questions that beginners often ask around different forums and online communities.
Q 1. Are wood jointers worth it?
Answer: Needless to say, a carpenter often needs to plane his workpieces to make the warped, twisted faces flat. This lets the person achieve different measurements and cut from his lumbers.
Planing is also mandatory when gluing workpieces for furniture since this requires both smooth and true edges. Additionally, when woodworking is a serious hobby, planing on your own is much cheaper than buying S4S stocks.
A blanket chest project done by the Wood Magazine has also revealed an interesting fact regarding cost savings when using rough sawn lumber instead of S4S woods. According to the study, it is found that S4S woods cost 50% extra with which you can buy a jointer and planer for free had you build:
- 5 chest with red oak
- 6 chest using maple
The savings on lumber is incredible, right?
Even pre-milled stocks sometimes have small flaws and the saw machine can leave an uncomfortable texture on the surface. And you will not achieve precision from your project without going over a few passes on the jointer.
Whichever way you want to present it, the benefit of a wood jointer is evident. There is no better option to turn your rough lumber into smooth pieces in half the time and energy of setting up complicated jigs on a router table or hand planing respectively.
Q 2. What is a benchtop Jointer?
Answer: This woodworking appliance is a scaled-down version of cabinet-style jointers that uses the same series of knives and make flat surfaces on rough woods. Unlike conventional jointers, they don’t have their own legs or floor-stand, instead sit on a benchtop.
They are an indispensable tool when it comes to cut rabbets on figure woods, or taper workpieces in the comfort of a small garage.
Q 3. Who needs a benchtop jointer?
Answer: Benchtop model fits most hobbyist and even some professionals who don’t have access to a dedicated workshop to accommodate large cabinet style machines.
Due to their economical sizes, they leave enough shop space to maneuver and pill your stock as you prepare them away. You can even park your car in the garage if you want.
They are relatively lightweight too, means you can bring one to a Jobsite or simply put them on a workbench, and process woods in no time.
On the flip side, you have to accept the fact that unlike stationary jointers, benchtop models can’t handle the toughest of woods and provide decent longevity at the same time.
Q 4. Should I buy a jointer or planer?
Answer: Jointers and planers are one-trick ponies, and it may seem like only the serious woodworkers need to own both. In reality, you can’t replace or compare one with the other when it comes to finishing your work precisely.
Jointers are designed to create smooth reference surfaces, whereas planers ensure your stocks maintain an equal thickness before you can move on with your project. However, buying both machines separately will be expensive, in which case you should consider a jointer first.
Because making a stock flat and square is more important initially than having it planed to a uniform thickness. Alternatively, you can go for a combination machine and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Q 5. How do I check my jointer results?
Answer: You need two boards that have been prepared on a jointer recently. Place those together edge-to-edge and see whether they match perfectly. There will be gaps if your stock isn’t square on the edges. In this case, you have to check and tune your jointer again.
First set the infeed table to zero depth of cut and then use a straightedge to recheck whether the tables are perfectly parallel. There should be no gap at any point along the straightedge.
To check the fence, use a small square and put it up against the fence and the jointer bed. Check both ends of the fence and make any adjustments necessary to achieve perfect squareness. The user manual is a good place to learn more about this adjustment process.
Whether you’re a carpenter or not, you can’t disagree that boards with uneven edges can take a whole project go sideways. And, having the best benchtop jointer around is the solution that you should be on the lookout for.
Safety tips and buying guide aside, I hope the reviews above have helped you take the right workshop decision. I believe now you know which model to invest in with a clear understanding of the specialties that best benchtop wood jointers should feature. Wish you’re able to equip your workshop with the best tool and accomplish more from your woodworking projects.