Lessons Learned #1: Appeasing the jointer

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Blog entry by live4ever posted 03-13-2010 01:58 AM 6034 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment when you’re able to successfully troubleshoot a problem.

I was having some snipe issues with my Ridgid 6” jointer. The last 2” or so of the trailing end was getting gouged. A common issue with jointers, I hear. So I set out to solve the problem.

My careful and scientific analysis of the problem (reading the manual and browsing forums) led me to believe the knives were too high relative to the outfeed table. So I began my first foray into jointer knives. The mechanism turned out simpler than I expected, but the process was slightly more frustrating than I expected.

I don’t have a “real” straightedge (you know, those fancy ones y’all gots), just my cheap stainless steel squares and sliding rules. Those would have to do. I spent about 3 hours trying to align the knives.

MISTAKE #1: Using a straightedge that wasn’t quite straight. Like a total moron, I used the flat part of the ruler instead of the edge because I couldn’t keep the ruler standing on edge over the cutterhead. Um, yeah, good one.
MISTAKE #2: Not taking the knives out completely, not cleaning the wedges and set screws.
MISTAKE #3: Using blue tape on the “straight”edge instead of packaging tape.

Needless to say, when I tried the jointer, I got a pretty spectacular cut. Spectacular like, I’ve tapered the board across its width with a beautiful scalloping pattern. Clearly, adjusting the knives did NOT go according to plan. I’m pretty sure I could have done a better job just winging it by eye.

So today I attempted it again, this time cleaning everything thoroughly AND using a better straightedge. The jointer, like all angry tools, showed its affection for flesh when I slammed my knuckle on the blade while tightening a lock nut. Got a minor but nice deep cut. Thank you, jointer. I will now refer to you as the Orange a and will dream nightly about how I’m going to replace you with a 10” beauty as soon as I win the lottery. Until then, I’ll just run miles of Ipe over you ‘til you say our safe word. But I won’t hear you because I’ve got hearing protection on.

With a little more patience and care, I managed to get the knives aligned with the outfeed table. I get a beautiful flat surface with no snipe. Without a dial indicator! And that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from conquering something simple after screwing it up so royally. Needless to say, I did order myself a dial indicator for the future.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

8 comments so far

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 03-13-2010 04:16 AM

Been there…done that… Frustrating…The best money I ever spent was buying a good dial indicator.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4983 days

#2 posted 03-13-2010 04:55 AM

When I had a 6” straight knife jointer, I bought a jointer pal magnetic jig for setting the knives. It worked wonderfully.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3992 days

#3 posted 03-13-2010 01:40 PM

I think setting jointer knives, second only to sharpening blades, is one of the most frustrating of skills to learn when you are a new woodworker. I had my experiences a few months ago with a benchtop jointer/planer. First blade set was a very time consuming process. It has improved some since then.

As the others already mentioned, magnets or a magnet jig does make the process much easier. The magnets lift the blade and help position the knives level with the outfeed table. Not sure if Bob would be your uncle or not, but the blades would be level :)

And I agree with you, understanding a machine and being able to accomplish tasks on them that seem impossible does give you a great feeling.

Welcome to LJ’s,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View SPalm's profile


5336 posts in 4765 days

#4 posted 03-13-2010 03:26 PM

Having been bitten by jointer knifes, I like the safe word / Ipe / hearing protection reference.

Magnets help. There are so many ways of doing this because it can be SO frustrating. Especially when you think it is perfect, but the wood tells you different.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View patron's profile


13710 posts in 4224 days

#5 posted 03-13-2010 03:56 PM

if you have an adjustable out feed table ,
just rise it to the cutter head .
if the out feed is higher than the cutter head ,
your board will have a crown in it .
if the out feed is lower than the cutter head ,
the work will have a bow in it .
using any kind of ‘setting tool ’ ,
if you crank the gib bolts ,
you can ‘tweak ’ the knives out of true .
work the gib bolts the way you tighten lug bolts on a tire ,
snug each one more each pass ,
and you lessen the chance of having them ’ walk’ with over tightening
before they are all snug together .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4217 days

#6 posted 03-13-2010 10:29 PM

All part of the learning curse. It’s about paying you dues I guess. When I need my jointer/planer knives adjusted I will just invite David over for a Twinkie and a coffee (I hear he is big on Twinkies). I will give him the twinkies after the adjustment is finished of course.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View patron's profile


13710 posts in 4224 days

#7 posted 03-13-2010 10:36 PM

mike you will have to send me a wrapper ,
as proof of ’ intent ’ .
i know about ’ danish pastry ,
what you got by way of
’ norway pastry ’ ?

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4217 days

#8 posted 03-13-2010 10:51 PM

We just have pastry David. The guy who owns the local bakery here in town is Danish. He got a job with the gal who used to own the bakery a few years ago. Now they own it together because they got married. The business has gone from 4 employees to over 70 and with several outlets. The only fly in the ointment is that their baked goods aren’t very good any more, except their Berlinerboller. That’s a jelly or cream filled donut sprinkled with sugar. I really wish we had a Duncan Donuts here. I really miss them. Can’t have everything I guess.

Can a Twinkies wrapper be sent via Pay Pal?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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