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Thread: Why a 12" jointer?

  1. #1
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    Why a 12" jointer?

    I'm in the market for a new jointer. So obviously, I've spent an inordinate amount of time reading up on the options/opinions. Currently I'm waffling between an 8" Powermatic HH parallelogram and Laguna 12" HH parallelogram. Blog after blog, forum upon forum, folks seem to all say bigger is better. But I'm not sure why and what sort of work they are doing that drives this thinking.

    I make fine furniture. Tables, beds, boxes, etc. Lots of laminations. In my workflow, I take rough lumber to my jointer to get a clean edge, that then allows me to go to bandsaw for very rough sizing of board width. As a rule, I never use boards wider than 4" to avoid warping and to mitigate seasonal movement. Then back to jointer to face and edge joint before thickness planer for thickness, then I glue up. After I use my drum sander for final flattening and cleaning up. The width I get from the drum sander, I could never get from any jointer.

    So I'm left wondering why would I need a jointer wider than 8"? Is there some sort of work that I'm not foreseeing given that I've only been crafting for a few years? Generally, I don't do cabinet work, and even the dressers and cabinets I've made, I've laminated sides, doors, etc. with 3" boards, and couldn't see why I'd go back to the jointer after lamination when I have a 22" wide drum sander. So is that the answer -- the drum sander negates my need for a widest possible jointer? Why get a jointer so much wider than any edge or face width I seem to ever need, given warping and movement concerns?

  2. #2
    Sounds like you just don't have a need for a large jointer. Nothing wrong with that. Probably save you some money too.

    I have a 16" jointer though and I love it. I like wide boards, so I frequently go up to 10", and on rare occasions up to the full 16". Also for live edge slabs it's helpful. For instance, if you did floating shelves from 12" live edge slabs. It's a whole lot easier and quicker to flatten them on a jointer, than a router sled.

    The other benefit is that usually a wider jointer also has longer beds, which are very helpful for getting a straight edge/surface on extra long stock.

    One more benefit is that you can slide the fence back and forth to use different sections of the knives. Basically you can hypothetically go longer before re-sharpening/changing inserts.

    Everybody always thinks bigger is better, but honestly if you don't have the need for it, then don't bother with it.

  3. #3
    People get wider jointers to flatten the faces of wide boards that they don't intend to rip down further.

    As you describe your workflow, you're right that there's no need for a bigger jointer (even a 6" model sounds like it would do what you need). But many (most?) people like using wide boards (to maintain continuous figure and avoid excess processing of lumber), and while concern for warping is valid, it sounds like your concern may be bordering on excessive.

  4. #4
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    I have owned an 8" Jet HH jointer for 6 years or so and it was a game changer for me. Others will say that the widest jointer you can afford is the thing to buy. In general, wider is better. However, if you almost never use hardwoods wider than 8",it would appear you don't need a 12" jointer. For those rare times I've needed to flatten a board wider than 8" I have always found a resource to do that or found another way to process the lumber (like a sled for your planer).

    Plus, then there is the added weight of a 12" jointer. If your shop is in the basement, like mine is, getting even an 8" jointer down there is a challenge.

  5. #5
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    I know right, that's why I skipped 12" and went 24 and 30"

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Warner View Post
    I know right, that's why I skipped 12" and went 24 and 30"
    16" or 20" seems like a sweet spot.. big enough to be useful but not outrageous in a space challenged shop

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Warner View Post
    I know right, that's why I skipped 12" and went 24 and 30"
    Can I ask what kind of work you're doing that has you face jointing boards that wide? I'm just trying to understand the justification for scope of machine. Stewart Lang above explained his use for slabs/wide live edge boards, and that makes perfect sense. But what other applications am I not considering?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    ... concern for warping is valid, it sounds like your concern may be bordering on excessive.
    Unfortunately my "concerns" are based on experience. Most of my work is done and exists between the coast and the desert where humidity and temperature fluctuations wreak havoc on wider boards. And wood movement in my experience, ought never be underestimated. In fact, I mostly see furniture blown to smithereens specifically because of the lack of due concern.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie McDottie View Post
    Can I ask what kind of work you're doing that has you face jointing boards that wide? I'm just trying to understand the justification for scope of machine. Stewart Lang above explained his use for slabs/wide live edge boards, and that makes perfect sense. But what other applications am I not considering?
    For me 20" wide boards are common enough, and i never rip a board for a glue up.
    IMG_20170331_202744_136.jpg

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie McDottie View Post
    Can I ask what kind of work you're doing that has you face jointing boards that wide? I'm just trying to understand the justification for scope of machine. Stewart Lang above explained his use for slabs/wide live edge boards, and that makes perfect sense. But what other applications am I not considering?
    Anything I can fit on it. After a few slabs for customers it wears me out, miss my facer. Also great for cleaning up bent laminations. I usually keep a 12" machine around for muck work though.

  11. #11
    Of the hundreds of boards I handle in a year, only a handful will come into the shop at less than eight inches wide. I looked to faces joint before ripping so I can see what I'm working with. I think most production shops would consider <8" boards to be seconds and of limited use.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie McDottie View Post
    As a rule, I never use boards wider than 4"
    Then an 8" should be fine. Generally 8" jointers are heavier and better built than 6" jointers and can give better results. I've used a number of 8" jointers both in my school shops and at home and eventually upgraded to a 12" when a good one came available, and I wouldn't want to go back to anything smaller. I bought it from a commercial architectural cabinet and furniture shop. They had a 24" and just got a 30" and didn't need the "small" one anymore.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie McDottie View Post
    I'm in the market for a new jointer. So obviously, I've spent an inordinate amount of time reading up on the options/opinions. Currently I'm waffling between an 8" Powermatic HH parallelogram and Laguna 12" HH parallelogram. Blog after blog, forum upon forum, folks seem to all say bigger is better. But I'm not sure why and what sort of work they are doing that drives this thinking.

    I make fine furniture. Tables, beds, boxes, etc. Lots of laminations. In my workflow, I take rough lumber to my jointer to get a clean edge, that then allows me to go to bandsaw for very rough sizing of board width. As a rule, I never use boards wider than 4" to avoid warping and to mitigate seasonal movement. Then back to jointer to face and edge joint before thickness planer for thickness, then I glue up. After I use my drum sander for final flattening and cleaning up. The width I get from the drum sander, I could never get from any jointer.

    So I'm left wondering why would I need a jointer wider than 8"? Is there some sort of work that I'm not foreseeing given that I've only been crafting for a few years? Generally, I don't do cabinet work, and even the dressers and cabinets I've made, I've laminated sides, doors, etc. with 3" boards, and couldn't see why I'd go back to the jointer after lamination when I have a 22" wide drum sander. So is that the answer -- the drum sander negates my need for a widest possible jointer? Why get a jointer so much wider than any edge or face width I seem to ever need, given warping and movement concerns?
    You may not need a bigger jointer for what you are doing. I bought a 12" jointer because I was making entry doors and I needed to flatten and straighten the stiles and bottom rails of doors. If you never need to flatten a board wider than 8" then you may not need one.

    Don't say you could never flatten a board on any jointer. There are some out there 36" wide. I cauld't picture running one but there out there. Facing a board 12" is enough for me.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    People get wider jointers to flatten the faces of wide boards that they don't intend to rip down further.

    As you describe your workflow, you're right that there's no need for a bigger jointer (even a 6" model sounds like it would do what you need). But many (most?) people like using wide boards (to maintain continuous figure and avoid excess processing of lumber), and while concern for warping is valid, it sounds like your concern may be bordering on excessive.
    Oh nuts. Ripping a board in the interest of stability does almost nothing to mess with the visual figure of the board (you'd have to really look for it.)

    Unless you're dealing with orthodox quarter sawn lumber, incorporating super wide boards into a piece of fine furniture (including the whole "slab" thing that is currently fashionable) is IMO malpractice. The 8" jointer is usually sufficient. And if you're really in love with a particular slab, the 12" jointer is not going to be enough anyway.

  15. #15
    Oh nuts. Ripping a board in the interest of stability does almost nothing to mess with the visual figure of the board (you'd have to really look for it.)
    Well I respectively disagree. Ripping a board does nothing *for* stability unless you flip alternate boards when you glue them back together, and if you do that, it certainly *does* mess with the visual figure.
    All ripping a board and gluing it back in the same orientation does is allow you to waste less material getting it flat. It's not like the glue provides some anti-warp force.

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