JET - JWJ-8CS (Rating: 5)

Last Spring I sold my General 6" Jointer and my Williams & Hussey molder/planer with the intention of buying the Rikon 12" Jointer/Planer Combo. Then, looking at a heavy summer travel schedule I decided to put the purchase off till the Fall. When I finally went to execute the purchase, in early Oct., I discovered that the $2700 price had leapt to $3600 with the addition of $900 in tariffs. The Jet had gone to $4200. I balked and spent a month or so hand planing poplar for four cabinets. I was really pleased with the results but decided it was time to move on.

I got a really good price on the Dewalt 735 Planner, which has pleased me, and then came across a pre-tariiff Jet 8" Jointer from a local shop, so I jumped at it. I had to let go of the space saving combo with a helical head but saved almost $2,000 and the extra length of the Jet bed is a big plus. The Jointer arrived in two boxes, a wooden crate with the tables, fence and misc. parts and a carton with the base and motor. It was all in excellent condition, save for a few tiny paint chips on the back.

Mounting the mobile base takes two people, unless you are a lot stronger than I am. My wife braced the base and we tilted it into position. Once installed I found the mobility unit worked very well. The bed and fence weigh well over 200lbs and definitely require two strong bodies to lift into place, but Jet provided bolts with about 2" heads, and thread directly into the top, which made attaching the two parts pretty easy.

The rest of the assembly would have been very straight forward if the directions weren't written by someone who has never assembled this unit! I ignored the direction to set up the guard before the cutters and out feed table were aligned, more on that later. The biggest obstacle came in wiring the motor to the switch, which Jet referred to as the "motor starter." The directions had me install the belts and align the motor with the pulleys, which required loosening all four bolts (awkward) and wedging a large old screw driver under the motor. After getting all of this done I went on to wiring the motor and switch. Unfortunately this required unbolting the motor, removing the belts, and turning it 90 degrees to access the wiring box! Even then it was awkward. Oh, and the wiring instructions basically came down to "hire an electrician." Nothing complicated just lots of small muscle challenges. I wish Jet had wired the motor and left me to wire the switch.

Next I went on to aligning the beds and cutters. The directions were clear enough about the cutter and outfeed table and about the fence, but not a word about aligning the two tables. I got worried.

Needlessly. The three blades were spot on with the outfeed table and so was the infeed table. I have only a 3' (veritas) straight edge, but it showed no gaps at all on either edge of the bed. Amazing. All together from unboxing to jointing took about 6 hours, and I'm not especially efficient at this sort of thing.

The noise level is OK, and the dust collection (once I remembered to open the blast gate) with a 1 1/2 HP jet dust collector and minimal distance and angles to traverse is pretty good.

So far I have done two faces of 4+" poplar and then produced two sq. edges. They mate up perfectly. I'm thrilled.

I think, I'm really going to like this machine.