What Size Jointer Do I Need? [Expert Opinion]

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If you are a woodworking enthusiast, you already know the importance of a jointer in your projects. A jointer is capable of making the edges of lumber properly flat. So, it can fit well to improve your project as a whole. Now, a question that many beginners ask is, what size jointer do I need?

Choosing the right size of a jointer depends on the dimension of boards you deal with, and your budget. Here the size of the jointer is mainly referring to the size of its cutterhead.  In general, a beginner might start with a 6-inch cutterhead. If you want a long-term solution an 8-inch will be rewarding.

In the next few sections, we’re going to extend this concept regarding the size of a jointer. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Why Do I Need a Jointer?

If you’re a passionate woodworker, it’s difficult to think about a day without a jointer in your workspace. A jointer helps you a lot in your projects in so many ways. It will work perfectly when it comes to flattening a rough board and squaring its edges as precisely as it can be.

So, your workpieces will be perfectly prepared for your projects. In other words, your wood will be ready to join with other pieces when you need to make a bigger panel.

The way a jointer works is pretty simple. You just need to run your stocks a few paces across the jointer table and the cutterhead will do the rest of work. Additionally, you can use the tilting fence, move it to different angles, and meet your needs for bevel cut.

No wonder, all of this can be achieved by using muscle power and a hand plane. But, the fact of the matter is, doing this manually is going to be incredibly laborious. With a jointer, you will be able to create smooth reference surfaces and straight edges from rough lumber more accurately, under a few seconds.

What Size Jointer Do I Need?

Factors to Consider

When you talk about choosing a jointer, some factors should influence your decision. The main consideration is the cutterhead size of the jointer and the floor space you have in your garage/shop. Your budget should be considered as well. Let’s discuss these in more detail below.

Floor Space: Conventional vs. Benchtop Jointer

When it comes to a full-size jointer, it can easily handle large size boards. But, you have to keep in mind that these jointers are pretty expensive. A small jointer can cost you a lot of money. If you are on a tight budget, tabletop or benchtop models can be a decent solution.

Fortunately, with the advancement of technology, the overall quality of benchtop jointers have developed significantly over the years. Now you can find benchtop models able to facilitate all small and medium sized boards and yet working quite impressively.

Again, the lightweight feature of these jointers makes them perfect to move around in different corners of your shop. So, you can work in suitable places and even carry them to a jobsite. The overall size of these machines are smaller, which means you can better utilize your limited shop space too.

Oftentimes you’ll also find the infeed and outfeed tables of benchtop jointers come in various sizes. If you buy a tabletop jointer with slightly bigger table configuration you’ll have no problem dealing with oversized boards in your shop.

Length Of Cutterhead: 6-Inch vs. 8-Inch

If you run a small home shop or just starting out, a 6” jointer will meet most of your wood sharpening and edging needs. Now, you may still be thinking about handling longer boards with this size of a jointer. In that case, I have a simple solution for you.

When you have to finish lumbers or boards for which your jointer is too narrow, you need to rip the board into pieces. Then mill them carefully. After that, you can glue them back together. Needless to say, it’s not the most ideal fix. But if you do it carefully, it’s not that big of a deal visually. 

In a nutshell, when choosing a jointer, first of all consider the size of your workpieces. If you are working with small and regular sized lumber, a 6-inch jointer would be enough and the most budget friendly choice.

However, when it comes to cutterhead sizes, you can always go for the extra 2 inches (aka 8-inch jointers). They will provide additional support and working surface to handle wider boards. In the long run, it will save you a ton of time and hassle in your woodworking projects.

If you run a large shop and you have the money, why not consider a 12-inch industrial grade jointers. This will allow you to handle virtually any size of woods you buy from a lumberyard.

Wrapping Up

A jointer is a great tool in your workshop to help you with your projects. While jointers are a little bit expensive, the benefits you’ll get from them often outweighs the cost. Whether you need to make the surface of your board smooth or to square the corners, a good quality jointer is a perfect tool.

But, you should get the right size of jointer to earn your money’s worth. It should perfectly fit your preference to get the maximum convenience from it. Depending on your situation, you can go for either a 6 or 8-inch (cutterhead) jointer to get the job done.

Both jointers come with their benefits and disadvantages. In the end, it all depends on your type of project and your preferences. I hope you have a good woodworking day ahead with the right jointer.

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