Stock Maximums (and minimums) on Jointer

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Forum topic by Lenny posted 01-11-2012 07:59 PM 6162 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1722 posts in 4810 days

01-11-2012 07:59 PM

I submitted a question to the Q and A section of Woodworker’s Journal magazine and they opted to answer it in their “e-zine”. For those that don’t choose to open the link, my question essentially was: “What is protocol on maximum lengths of stock to SAFELY push through one’s jointer. To their credit, they opted to address both minimum and maximum lengths. Here’s the link: “Jointer”:

I would be interested in LJ responses to my question and the responses offered by WWJ. I often buy 8’ lengths of lumber. Are they safe to push through a 6” jointer with say a bed that is 46” long (my Delta)? If the board is 8” wide and 8’ long is it safe to edge joint it? Do you have any standard practices relative to this topic or do you just joint what needs to be jointed?

The safety issue is foremost but I guess at some point, the length also begins to affect the precision of the cut. If the board loses contact at a point or two along the length you don’t have a uniformly flat edge or face.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

21 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7933 posts in 4197 days

#1 posted 01-11-2012 08:20 PM

Well, I have pushed 8ft 8/4 Ash through mine when building my workbench laminate top without issue. My jointer bed is 75in though. You could always set up roller stands before and after to catch/support these monsters. IMO, that would be the best way to prep for long jointer pieces.

BTW, I have managed to joint a 9in wide 8/4 on my 8in jointer by taking very small cuts and horizontally rotating the piece after EVERY pass. BE WARNED: This requires removing the cutter guard to do this, so do this at your OWN risk.

I then take my 18in foreplane and smooth out the minor difference on the last pass before running the board through my lunchbox planer. I had VERY LITTLE waste doing it this way.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Loren's profile


11307 posts in 4930 days

#2 posted 01-11-2012 08:39 PM

You can joint an 8’ board on a 6” jointer, but there is seldom
much point to it. Most members used in furniture are shorter,
and laying out parts within boards to follow the grain is a
more elegant way to build than joining, ripping and crosscutting
all parts from boards you treat as uniform stock.

I find a 78” level the most useful tool for surfacing wood in that
I can lay it on an edge and see what I am working with. On
big boards I will use handheld electric planers and hand planes
rather than try to wrestle a board across a jointer only to find
the droop of the weight results in a curved edge. I lay the level
on faces as well.

Milling wood is a really creative activity and there are a lot of nuanced
decisions to make… but once a board is crosscut it can never be
made longer. A rip can be “healed” so to speak with gluing, but
a crosscut is forever. So it is tempting to mill all the boards an keep
them as long as possible until late in the game… but you make a
dozen compromises and more work for yourself and miss out on
the experiential quality of working with board thickness in unexpected

See, a board will have bulges and stuff in the face and sometimes
the sensible thing to do with a long board that is thick at one end
and thin at the other is to crosscut it and treat each board as an
individual with its own destiny. Play with it…. soon you become
liberated from working in 3/4”s and 1/2”s and you’ll be making boards
15/16”s and 17/32s” and, oh then you’re all building unexpected
things and becoming something more than a wood butcher.

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4166 days

#3 posted 01-11-2012 08:55 PM

I’ve tried to joint 8ft boards for a workbench on my 55” long jointer; was extremily difficult and I didn’t really have a satisfactory result. Wood that I know I’m going to cut into smaller pieces for a project, I roughly crosscut it before jointing it, much easier to handle and I have to remove less wood than if I used a long piece. As for minimums…anything less than about 6” I get pretty nervous about…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Loren's profile


11307 posts in 4930 days

#4 posted 01-11-2012 08:59 PM

Anyway, you can make an outfeed table, as I have done before,
for a jointer and turn a 4’ jointer into a 6’ jointer easily enough.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6497 posts in 4096 days

#5 posted 01-11-2012 09:07 PM

For any stock over 5 feet long, I make sure to use an outfeed roller. I usually layout the parts on my stock, and cut the parts to rough length before jointing. A dining table is one notable exception, where you need boards 6-7 feet long. Even then, the boards on extension tables run widthwise and are usually no longer than 4 feet.
For the few times when I have to leave the stock long, I set an outfeed roller level with the outfeed table of my jointer using a builders level.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Lenny's profile


1722 posts in 4810 days

#6 posted 01-11-2012 10:36 PM

All are points well taken. The in and/or outfeed rollers make great sense and a custom outfeed table is a nice idea too. Thanks for the input.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5361 posts in 5243 days

#7 posted 01-11-2012 10:49 PM

This may be seen as a cop out, but I have been using a glue line rip blade on the TS for long pieces. Good results and no fear. Glue ups have been very good. So far…..........

-- [email protected]

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3958 days

#8 posted 01-11-2012 11:36 PM

I have jointed long board but it is difficult when you are alone. In school we were taught to get a buddy to help “tail off” the board but these days I am alone more often. in-feed and out-feed tables or rollers would be the answer and those could make the process limitless I suppose…...if you could get them level. The shortest board that should be jointed is 12 inches according to the safety rules in most jointer manuals. I have had one board jerked from my hands in a jointer and it was scary. I was not remotely injured but it was a thin short board so I started believing those owner’s manuals.

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4426 days

#9 posted 01-11-2012 11:40 PM

Painting a line on the top of the fence for the minimum length is a good idea. I think I may do that on my jointer and on my planer cart.

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 4523 days

#10 posted 01-11-2012 11:41 PM


Thanks for this question. I’m just about to begin a new project that requires to join several 55” boards for the side panels. My jointer is a 8 inch helical head grizzly, with a 75 inch bed. Using the in-feed and out-feed rollers sounds like the smartest way to go.
The good thing about the question is our community sharing its knowledge. Thank you all!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View Lenny's profile


1722 posts in 4810 days

#11 posted 01-12-2012 12:30 AM

Bill White I don’t view it as a cop out at all. If you are getting nice square and uniform cuts, suitable for gluing, that’s great. I wonder though, how you make the first cut? If using rough lumber, a square edge is usually desired before using the table saw. Thanks again to all for the comments. Hi Gerry. Happy New Year and amen to your last comment.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Dusty56's profile


11866 posts in 4971 days

#12 posted 01-12-2012 12:57 AM

Good question , Lenny , and some good answers as well : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 4183 days

#13 posted 01-12-2012 01:10 AM

I agree with Manitario. One is much more efficient with wood use if rough crosscutting is done early in the milling process. I have a 6” helical Powermatic and I made several simple jointing jigs for safety. Face jointing a two- to three-foot pieces is both safe and wood-efficient.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5106 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 01:20 AM

Hey Lenny great topic you have going on here with plenty of neat ideas from fellow jocks. I would like to chime in on the view of B.White, I don’t have a jointer in my shop due to space issues as well and use my T.S. as my jointer for years. The first cut is done by using a straight edge taxi on the desired board which ride along the fence this will duplicate the straight edge to the opposite of the board. If the board has been plane flat two sided face tape works great if not you may have to tack the straightedge to the stock being edge . Ever since the early 80’s I’ve used ridge carbide TS 2000 blade on my saw which produces great glue joints. I also am a great advocate of the grip tight system for TS fence. These magnetic holder keep your board steady against the fence during ripping leaving a burn free edge on the stock which help vastly on producing the clean edge for gluing. For shorter piece I go to my reliable hand planes which allow me to listen to the radio or music in the shop. Final I use my Incra super system with the wonder fence which produce flawless glue joints as well, I use this for 3’ and less dimensions. These are just some more idea to toss around hope all is well and snow free my friend take care…Wilson

View Lenny's profile


1722 posts in 4810 days

#15 posted 01-12-2012 02:50 AM

Thanks for the comments Len and Paul. Hi Wilson. I have seen the technique of “taxi-ing” a board as you mention and can see how it would provide a straight edge which could then be placed against the fence to get a straight and parallel cut on the other edge. I too have used my Incra LS Positioner as a jointer for pieces that are router bit height and not too long. However, let me play devil’s advocate for a minute regarding your statement: “If the board has been planed flat”. Generally with rough lumber, the first step in milling is jointing a face-side flat. If you go directly to the planer and send one side through, supposedly the planer will simply make a cut parallel to the bottom side. If it is not flat (horizontal), the cut is not flat. Is this not true?

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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