Surfacing Wide Boards on a Narrow Jointer

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Forum topic by tenontim posted 07-19-2008 01:25 AM 3918 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2131 posts in 4711 days

07-19-2008 01:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wide board surfacing jointer joining

Recently, one of my fellow Texans accused us Americans of being whiners. Well, hopefully after you learn this procedure, you will have one less thing to whine about. Namely, “I can’t surface wide boards because I only have a 6” jointer.”
I didn’t come up with this technique, it’s been handed down from the craftsmen of the past. About 50 years ago, the only place that you would find large jointers, was in the furniture factories. Power tools were expensive and the choice was very limited. The normal jointer found in the home shop was a 6”, bench top jointer.

You can surface a board approximately 11 ¼” wide on a 6” jointer, or up to twice as wide as your jointer, minus about ¼” for overlap. This is done by making two passes over the cutter head. The first pass will surface one half of the board and the next the other. Of course, one of the passes will be against the gain, and it’s best to make this pass first. Feed the board very slowly when going against the grain, especially at the end of the cut.

I didn’t have a 12” board for a demo, so I’ll use one that’s a little over 8”.
This entire procedure is best done with the jointer set for a very light cut. I start out with the jointer set for about 1/16”. Depending on how warped, twisted, bowed, etc. the board is, I start raising the table after each pass in both directions. I will finish with the table almost flush with the outfeed table.

The board I’m using has a little bit of a bow and a little bit of wind.

The procedure for planing a wide board is the same as for one that’s a normal size for your jointer. Place the paddles on the low corners. Do not apply very much pressure on the front paddle, since there is not going to be any cutting done on this pass. (For this board).

As you get the board trued up, you will notice that you have a ridge line where the cuts have overlapped. If you’re not taking too deep a cut on each pass, this will not effect the over all flatness of the board.

You can take a card scraper and remove the small amount of unevenness.

And as you can see, the board is flat in all directions and ready to be run through the planer to true up the other side. This board will finish out at about 7/8” thick after planing both sides.

So, get yourself a stack of practice boards and go try this out. It won’t take long for you to get the hang of it. And then you’ll have one less thing to whine about. Wouldn’t do any good anyway. Your wife is not going to let you spend $2000 on that 12” jointer, so make the best of what you have.

5 replies so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4735 days

#1 posted 07-19-2008 01:36 AM

another way which i read in a magazine was to cut 2 rabbits on the board so it fits on the 6” jointer and you can joint that and use that as the reference surface. haven’t tried it out and don’t know how safe it would be.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4765 days

#2 posted 07-19-2008 02:42 AM

I have used a jig in the past to surface the board with a router. I tis slow, but also works

-- making sawdust....

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4689 days

#3 posted 07-19-2008 02:49 AM

This is another useful tip. Since I only have a 4” jointer, I have often used the excuse that I can’t surface anything wider than 4”. Now I surface wider lumber. Thanks Tim.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Kipster's profile


1076 posts in 4719 days

#4 posted 07-24-2008 01:10 AM

A very useful tip, a new one for me. If I had learned it 3 yrs. ago I wouldn’t have purchased my 16 ” jointer. Naw!

A useful technique, Thanks for sharing.

-- Kip Northern Illinois ( If you don't know where your goin any road will take you there) George Harrison

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4720 days

#5 posted 07-24-2008 01:40 AM

This is a good solution to a common problem thanks for spreading the knowledge!

GaryK also has a great solution using a Planner to joint lumber.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

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