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If you have the space for it and the budget, go for it. A 36" bed would probably work fine if most of your boards are under 6', but not having to hassle with the occasional longer board would be well worth the longer bed.
 

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45" is just long enough for a 6' board. Handling an 8' board will be awkward. You will want a roller stand at each end or a second person to assist you.
 

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I think it just depends on what you use it for. If you tend to build smaller projects, the shorter bed would certainly work fine. If you do larger items like cabinets etc, the longer one works best. I do a lot of rough lumber and reclaimed stock. Mine is 64" and I like the longer one. Plus it adds a lot of weight to the machine so it says put when using it.
 

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Go for the longest bed you can afford and/or have space for.

I have a Grizzly G0452 (46" bed) and have used it to flatten 8' long stock … as Rich suggested, a set of roller stands will come in real handy.
 

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I have the Rigid and it pretty much handles any thing that I can manage. ie usually 6" or less but have done some really long boards with roller stands. Because of the trouble that I have, I usually cut the boards down to slightly longer that their intended use, and frequently us the table saw for edges.
 

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I have the 6" Shop Fox with 46"ish beds. If you are planning on building an 8' workbench (which I am doing right now) then take the time to build some extension tables for it.

I did this and it makes everything sooooo much easier. Each extension that I made is 24" so I effectively have 8' of beds on the little jointer. Supporting the huge and heavy slabs of ash is almost effortless.

To me the limitation is the width of the jointer not the length!
 

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IMHO - Buy all the jointer you can afford and space allows. I have a Grizzly G0452 6" Jointer with a 46" bed but I did not use it long befor wanting a wider cutting width and longer bed. YMMV
 

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Bigger is usually better, but it's not always practical. Several have said already to get as long a jointer as budget and space allow. I would agree with that. I have used everything from an old 4" bench top Delta with a very short bed, to a 16" with an 8' bed. Of course I would prefer the long bed for jointing long boards, but you normally don't do that all that often, so a compromise is certainly OK. My Powermatic has a 6' bed and it does everyting I need from it. A 4' bed will certainly get the job done with some in and outfeed supports, and is much cheaper. Unless you are a production shop, you probably can't justify a bigger jointer.
 

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Bigger is better, but realistically I've only needed more length than my 47" long jointer could handle a couple of times in the past 8 years. Actual work pieces that are longer than 6' are rare for me. I usually find myself wanting extra width more than extra length.
 

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Obviously, bigger is better…..but, I have to agree with Miles as well. Back in the 'olden' days….well, 20 plus years ago anyways, when we were first starting out, all we had for a jointer was a Hitachi combo jointer/planer with a 36" bed. I can't even tell you how many 16' 8/4 boards I straightened on that 'bad boy' to make railing. Miles….and miles…....................and miles. (literally)

I only walked uphill in 'one' direction to get to school though ;o)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the info guys. I have been using a hand-me down beaver bench top jointer for about 15 years. It has about a 30" bed and I have done a lot with it so I'm thinking that the 4 foot bed will be a great upgrade. I see that sears canada has a general international 6'' jointer with a 55" bed for $170 more than the rigid but I haven't found any reviews on it. Anyone know anything about these?
 

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You can dress stock flat with a handheld electric planer - a lot faster
than using hand planes. It just needs to be flat enough on one side
to run that side down and plane the rough side parallel on a thickness
planer.

Hand flattening boards with an electric door planer is really not that
hard or even time consuming. Use winding sticks when starting out
but with practice you'll be able too just rely on your eye to sight the
high spots in the board.

I use a 78" level to assess board straightness - a very, very useful
tool and one I consider essential to accurate small-shop millwork.
 

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Swayze, do you have a thickness planer and if so what is the table width? You should aim at getting a jointer or surfacer with a table width as near as possible to this -that is more important than the length.
For most furniture making and even making house doors etc you can get away with a jointer as short as 48 inches or so, but it needs to be a decent width -like 12 inches, but 8 inches will do at a push.
It is fairly easy to to accurately joint boards of at least 8 feet on a 48 inch jointer, but the trouble starts when you are using heavy thick timbers or have many boards to prepare.
 
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