Reply by LeChuck

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Posted on How Wide a Jointer? Otra Vez

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424 posts in 3976 days

#1 posted 02-13-2013 06:06 PM

I used to have a clone of that Rikon combo machine, the small one on the left, and hated it (and it was cheaper to buy that the prices you are quoting).

If you’re going to use a planer and a jointer to dimension wood, those functions are complementary in my opinion, and you should be able to go from one to the other quickly, especially if it involves dimensioning a bunch of stock, not just one board). That machine was a pain to switch from one function to the other, had to move or remove the fence, remove the table or put it back on (and have a place to put it down), move the dust chute around (and move the planer table up to hold it in place). The table has to be eyeballed if you want to put it back on in the exact same position as before (it’s the outfeed table so you have to keep your alignment), and yes it gives you a wider jointer, but it’s cheap stuff with steel and no cast iron fence or table (except for the planer bed).

But then again, you’d also lose an extra couple inches on the planer side of things compared to a lunchbox planer, and there are good ones out there, better and more precise than the one in that Rikon (I love my Makita 2012NB).

At first you might feel like you can deal with that stuff, but it quickly becomes too much I think. For me a combo machine is really ok if you must have one in terms of space, and if change over is very minimal and won’t ruin your settings. Baring that, it’s just frustrating and separate machines are always the way to go if you can.

For space, you can easily mount a lunchbox planer on a rolling cart and just put it in a corner when it’s not in use. It requires some length only when boards are going through it. Jointer doesn’t move as easily but it’s possible too. I do the same with my bandsaw. In its position near the wall I can do short to medium length boards, but when I run longer boards though and it needs to clear the tops of the other machines nearby, I just pull it out a foot or 2.

I had a 6” Harbor Freight jointer until recently, but I returned it because I discovered the fence was twisted. That being said, I also discovered that such a machine is simply too small to be really practical, and I’m not just talking about the 6 inch capacity. The tables were too short, so it wasn’t practical for longer stock, and the fence was too narrow, which made it hard to do the edges on longer and wider stock. I decided that when I do get a power jointer again, it will have to be a bigger model, and 8 inch minimum, below that is just too restrictive in my opinion. You usually don’t have your board at the final width when you plane the faces, so that really limits what you can do.

In the meantime, it will be hand planes (actually even with a jointer, it’s a good thing to be able to do). You don’t have to make it dead flat, just flat enough to run through the planer, then flip over. As for edges, it’s also pretty quick in my opinion to create an edge that’s flat enough to run against the fence of your table saw, make a thin rip cut on the other edge, the flip it around and cut to final width.

-- David - Tucson, AZ

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