My simple inexpensive tool and method to set jointer knives

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by GaryK posted 04-30-2011 03:26 AM 19024 views 38 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4718 days

04-30-2011 03:26 AM

Starting out my life as a machinist and evolving into an engineer made the, intimidating for some, task of changing the blades on my jointer fairly straight forward.

I had all the tools I needed to do the job, but I wanted a simple. fast foolproof way to do it.

There are really 2 things you need to do.

1. Find amost top dead center for the blade.

2. Set your new blades 1 to 2 thousands of an inch above the outfeed table.

The first is simple using a a scale

First line up the edge of the outfeed table to an even inch number on your scale. 7 in this example.

Then by hand (unplug it first!) rotate the cutter clockwise so that the blade picks up and moves the scale forward. It moved it about 3/16” in this example.

Then just rotate the cutter back to move the scale almost 1/2 the distance and you will be close to top dead center.
It doesn’t matter which side of the 1/2 way point you are at as long as you are about 1/16” from it.

Then just take a piece of wood and wedge it in to keep the cutter head from rotating. This should take all of about 1 minute to complete.

Next step, setting the blade height.

I have seen various magnetic tools for doing this, but here is a way to make you own. I went to a hobby store and bought a package of 10, 1/2” diameter “super magnets” for about $3. I had two pieces of steel of steel laying around so I used them. Aluminum would work as well.

I stuck 3 of the magnets to my jointer table. One spaced further away from the other 2. Then I put a drop of epoxy on each magnet and set my steel bar on it. Once dry those magnets will be perfectly flat on that bar.

Then after removing and installing your new blades (loosely), set the single magnet over the blade while sticking the tool to the table. Put one near each end of the blade making sure you to cover screw that tightens your blade.

Raise the blade up until it sticks to the magnet and tighten it there. You are done with that blade.

Now the reason for not setting the blade while not at top dead center, is so that when you install your new blade it will be just a little bit higher than the outfeed table.

If it’s exactly the same height you will keep “bumping” into it with your stock.

It should take 5 to 10 minutes per blade.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

21 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118047 posts in 4307 days

#1 posted 04-30-2011 03:42 AM

As usual you’ve got it down pat Gary. If it’s in a person’s budget I say avoid this all together with a spiral head jointer.


View PaulJerome's profile


57 posts in 3763 days

#2 posted 04-30-2011 04:01 AM

Thank you Gary for taking the time and effort to show us all how simple this can be. I really appreciate it. It will save me some time and effort. Great job!

-- Paul, Central Illinois

View patron's profile


13702 posts in 4071 days

#3 posted 04-30-2011 04:48 AM

the center high trick
is the hardest part of setting these knives

this is the best solution
i have ever seen for that

thank you

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

View Karson's profile (online now)


35221 posts in 5130 days

#4 posted 04-30-2011 05:26 AM

Great design on the jig and head setting trick.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View DIYaholic's profile


19917 posts in 3405 days

#5 posted 04-30-2011 06:01 AM


Nice tutorial. You make it look so simple. Good job!

Could you stop by my shop and give a demonstration (that is, the next time I need to reset/sharpen/change blades). Lol.

Thanks for posting this. I need to calibrate/setup a jointer that I recently purchased and your jig/instructable is “Just what the Doctor ordered”.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View bubinga's profile


864 posts in 3397 days

#6 posted 04-30-2011 08:54 AM

I have watched videos, and read descriptions on setting jointer knives, and wondered why most of these people don’t lock the cutter head in position.
You mentioned using a wedge, which is the way I have always done it.
I didn’t see the wedge in your pictures, I put mine in front.
When I’m done the small wedge and the rest of the tools, for setting the knifes, are put away in one spot for the next time
Great little jig set.
I was going to buy some of those little magnets, for other things, but the shipping was as much as the magnets.
I never thought about the hobby store, great idea, there is one close by, I have been to, and they probably have those little magnets, so I will go check it out. Thanks

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View CanadianWoodChuck's profile


402 posts in 4643 days

#7 posted 04-30-2011 02:12 PM

Thanks Gary, I would comment on your editorial but I’m busy setting my jointer knives. :) Thanks

-- Wood Chuck (Bruce)

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 3368 days

#8 posted 04-30-2011 02:45 PM

Boy, that is the easiest way to do this onerous (in the past) task that I’ve seen. Thanks!!

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View ScottN's profile


262 posts in 3409 days

#9 posted 04-30-2011 03:15 PM

Changing jointer blades is a tedious job and I like your ideas. But I’m confused as to why you would want to be 1-2 thousands of an inch higher. I’ve always set them to the same height as my out feed table. Whats the benefit of going higher? It just makes sense to me to keep them at the same height.

-- New Auburn,WI

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4718 days

#10 posted 04-30-2011 06:31 PM

bubinga – You don’t see the wedge because I wasn’t actually changing the blades at this time. Just taking pictures.

ScottN – I have found that when setting it exactly flush, I “bump” into the outfeed table sometimes. The extra difference assures that I never do. It has no affect on the jointing operation. Plus it makes the find top center a little easier having something to work with.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3904 days

#11 posted 04-30-2011 06:34 PM

Magic !

So … do I have this right ? ISTR hearing/reading that … with metal (like the straight edge) ... you have to be REALLY careful not to nick the blades, during this sort of process.

Are they truly THAT soft/fragile ?

Not a thread-jack. Just a question about this brilliant, and near dummy-proof method :-)

-- -- Neil

View devann's profile


2250 posts in 3422 days

#12 posted 04-30-2011 06:53 PM

Thanks Gary, I like the magnet trick.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Tony's profile


993 posts in 4760 days

#13 posted 04-30-2011 09:24 PM

nice one Gary

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3656 days

#14 posted 04-30-2011 09:39 PM

The problem I had when installing my last set of knives was that the blades rose slightly when I tightened the screws down.

Not sure how wide your jointer is (mine is 8” and has 5 screws), but I will try this next time and see if it helps.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4315 days

#15 posted 04-30-2011 09:48 PM

The Austrian Felder company have the easiest idea they have an inbuilt frame which comes out to fit the jointer knives when it’s returned it clicks into be locked at the correct height cannot be too high or low you can change knives in seconds as oposed to a long drawn out affair. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics