A jointer is a useful tool for any woodworker. However, if you lack space in your workshop, a benchtop jointer is more than sufficient for handling smaller pieces of wood. The best benchtop jointers can help you flatten wooden edges without having to spend too much money or sacrifice too much space.
A benchtop jointer is comprised of an infeed table and outfeed table separated by an engine-powered cutter head. The cutter head of the benchtop jointer can be raised or lowered.
When the benchtop jointer is operational, you feed the piece of wood from the infeed table to the outfeed table. You can also use the fence to help guide the wood. The cutter head will slice the wood, then leave the remnants on the outfeed table (Source).
Benchtop jointers are extremely useful for flattening wooden surfaces. They’re also useful for flattening out the edges to create a perfectly rectangular shape. Benchtop jointers can help you taper the legs of chairs or tables and fine-tune doors to fit in their frames (Source). They’re more portable and easier to use than a full-sized jointer, so they’re perfect for both hobbyists and professional carpenters.
Prior to purchasing a benchtop jointer, you should consider its cutting depth, as well as the power of the motor. You’ll also have to consider the size of the jointer to ensure it can fit in your space. You might also want to see if it has an adjustable fence.
Complete your workshop with one of these top-rated benchtop jointers.
What Does a Benchtop Jointer Do?
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does a Benchtop Jointer Do?
- 2 Benefits of Using a Benchtop Jointer
- 3 Comparing The Best Benchtop Jointers
- 4 1. Festool 574432 Domino Joiner – Best Overall
- 5 2. Cutech 40160H-CT 6″ Bench Top Jointer – The Best Affordable Jointer
- 6 3. Powermatic 1791317K 54HH 6-Inch Jointer – The Best Helical Cutterhead Jointer
- 7 4. JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch – The Longest Working Surface in the Class
- 8 5. Delta Power Tools 37-071 MIDI-Bench Jointer – The Best Benchtop Jointer Below $500
- 9 6. RIKON Power Tools 25-210H 12-Inch Planer/Jointer with Helical Head
- 10 7. PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed 6″ Jointer
- 11 8. CRAFTSMAN CMEW020 10 Amp Benchtop Jointer
- 12 9. Grizzly Industrial G9860 – The Ultimate 12″ Jointer
- 13 10. Shop Fox W1860 8″ x 76″ Jointer with Helical Cutterhead
- 14 What Are the Components of a Benchtop Jointer?
- 15 How to Use a Benchtop Jointer
- 16 Safety Tips When Using a Benchtop Jointer
- 17 Factors You Must Consider Before Buying a Benchtop Jointer
- 18 Ready To Buy The Best Benchtop Jointers?
The purpose of a jointer is to flatten wooden pieces. If you have a piece of uneven timber, then a jointer will make it flat. Usually, a jointer will work for hand in hand with a thickness planer.
That means you will use the jointer first before moving on to the planer whenever you are dealing with bowed and twisted boards. Jointers and planers are so intertwined that sometimes they are combined into a single unit called a jointer planer combo machine.
However, if you happen to be on a budget and are trying to choose between the two, it is advisable to purchase the jointer. That is because a jointer will not only improve the appearance of your lumber, but it will also increase the durability.
Benefits of Using a Benchtop Jointer
The benchtop jointers have plenty of benefits thanks to their great portability and small size.
- Practical replacement: A benchtop jointer is a great alternative to a full-sized one if you have limited space and small pieces to work with. Weighing about 100 lbs, these devices are easy to move around.
- Serious motor power: This allows you to have ideally clean edges. As a result, your mobility will not be restricted and you will not spend too much.
- Noise output efficiency: With a minimum noise output, you will be able to work without disturbing the people around you. This is particularly useful if you want to work at home.
- Easy maintenance: Benchtop jointers are not complicated to use and maintain. It doesn’t take a lot of time to replace the inserts, meaning you will have more time for your work.
Comparing The Best Benchtop Jointers
|Festool 574432 Domino Joiner|
|Cutech 40160H-CT 6″ Bench Top Jointer|
|Powermatic 1791317K 54HH 6-Inch Jointer|
|JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch|
|Delta Power Tools 37-071 MIDI-Bench Jointer|
|RIKON Power Tools 25-210H 12-Inch Planer/Jointer with Helical Head|
|PORTER-CABLE PC160JT Variable Speed 6″ Jointer|
|CRAFTSMAN CMEW020 10 Amp Benchtop Jointer|
|Grizzly Industrial G9860 – The Ultimate 12″ Jointer|
|Shop Fox W1860 8″ x 76″ Jointer with Helical Cutterhead|
1. Festool 574432 Domino Joiner – Best Overall
While it is not the most affordable unit in the market today, it will offer you a good value for your money. For less than $1000, the DF 500Q offers a powerful, 420W motor.
This motor is capable of delivering 24,300 RPM to the Joiner blades for one of the finest cutting performance you can get today. Having been specifically designed to offer accurate joinery experience, the unit allows you to create miter cuts between 0 and 90 degrees.
In this regard, the tool has positive stops at 67.4, 45 and 22.5 degrees. This makes it ideal for repetitive use. Additionally, it is equipped with indexing pins that may be used to join the panels or align edges.
Rather than having a dust collection system, this jointer features an innovative dust extraction system. Such a system allows you to join your Festool Domino Jointer to the external dust extraction system in your workshop. This allows you to create cleaner joinery work, for that professional look.
2. Cutech 40160H-CT 6″ Bench Top Jointer – The Best Affordable Jointer
Despite its remarkable affordability, the 40160H-CT offers an array of features for professional and novice woodworkers alike. The rugged look of this tool is not only appealing, but it is also functional.
The spiral cutterhead fitted onto this unit, for instance, features a rugged appearance that delivers exceptional performance. The improved performance may be attributed to the 12 2-sided inserts used on its cutter head.
This feature offers an impressive finish and reduces tear-out. As compared to other jointers within this price range, the 40160H-CT is relatively easy to use and offers a nice cutting capacity.
The unit is equipped with a 4 3/8 by 19 5/8 inches adjustable fence. In this regard, you may tilt the fence to between 90 and 135 degrees. Again, you will love the fact that the spring tension on the cutterhead guard is also adjustable.
The maximum depth capacity on this unit is 1/8”, while its width capacity is 6”.
3. Powermatic 1791317K 54HH 6-Inch Jointer – The Best Helical Cutterhead Jointer
The Helical Cutterhead used on this unit features 40 indexable carbide knife inserts that are four-sided. In this regard, it gives your projects a superior finish. Additionally, this feature allows for a quieter operation.
For the sake of stability, this jointer features an all-steel cabinet that sets its table surface 32 inches above the ground. Again, its powerful 230-volt, one-phase motor is fitted in this low-lying cabinet. The motor is installed on a specialized mount that allows for easier belt-tension adjustments. All these are meant to enhance the efficiency and precision of the jointer.
4. JET 708457DXK JJ-6CSDX 6-Inch – The Longest Working Surface in the Class
Additionally, it is packed with a range of convenience and performance features for professional woodworkers looking for the best finish. To begin with, the unit is equipped with three quick-change, high-speed knives for a superior finish and rapid cutting. In this regard, you won’t need a knife setting gauge to produce a superior finish with this unit.
Since the unit is designed to handle the toughest of jointing projects, it features a powerful motor—a one-phase, fan-cooled 115/230-volt motor. The length of this jointer is 56 inches and it offers a cutting depth of up to ½ inches.
With such a capable system in place, it is possible for this jointer to achieve 6,000 cuts per minute (CPM).
5. Delta Power Tools 37-071 MIDI-Bench Jointer – The Best Benchtop Jointer Below $500
If you are a novice woodworker or carpenter, you must buy a unit that is easy to use, rather simple in design and is highly accurate. The Delta Power Tools 37-071 MIDI-Bench Jointer is one of the few tools that will offer you just that.
Despite its affordability, the unit features a durable and high-quality construction. This, in turn, enhances its stability and precision. Additionally, the tool is easy to assemble and comes with assembly instructions.
The tables are heavy, cast-iron, but they have the unique feature of easily lifting up and out of the way for planer use or convenient access to the cutter head for maintenance. The tables are machined smooth for efficient movement but do not have as much freedom of adjustment as other competing jointers.
For larger, less-precise industrial applications, the jointer is well-regarded, but it is notoriously difficult to fine-tune the table’s limited adjustments for precision. A high price tag and consistent complaints about the quality of the adjustable fence might scare away hobbyists or small-business owners.
At only 35lbs and a relatively low price, this jointer is perfect for hobbyists, who consider this machine to be the best in its league. This product is still available on Amazon.com, along with protection plans available at extra cost.
However, there are a few common complaints.
The lightweight aluminum bed and fence make it easy to carry or rearrange in a crowded garage, but it does leave the table somewhat unstable when jointing longer boards. The fence tends to drift whenever you try to secure it, and the jointer is hard to calibrate and often goes out of alignment.
The cutter head is designed with a two-knife jackscrew leveling arrangement to allow for easy replacement and adjustment of knives.
A built-in cutter head lock helps to prevent snipe on the ends of the boards. A center-mounted fence provides support throughout the cut to give accurate edging, flattening or face jointing.
It is a widely-reported rumor among professional woodworkers and hobbyists that this Craftsman jointer is a reincarnation of the discontinued Porter-Cable PC160JT Variable Speed 6″ jointer.
The large cast iron table and heavy-duty cast-iron base measures 12-1/2 inches by 80 inches and weighs a staggering 1190 pounds. The solid construction and grounded, hardened close-tolerance beds are designed to endure decades of hard use.
But its massive weight guarantees smooth operation and a built-in noise dampening system helps reduce excessive noise. Handwheel adjustments allow exact and precise control over table movement, making them nearly effortless.
Despite the high price of this jointer, the size of the table can help to save money by turning unusable or “cupped” lumber into perfectly flat stock.
The table is built on a mobile base allowing for easy movement and storage. But the table itself boasts multiple adjustments for convenience and ease of use. Table levers with positive table locks allow adjustment of the table height with a built-in depth gauge and the tables can be adjusted longitudinally and transversely for greater precision.
But the ease of use and high level of adjustment doesn’t detract from safety. The magnetic power switch is pedestal-mounted with a large paddle for easy on/off switching for safety. The set also includes two free safety push blocks.
What Are the Components of a Benchtop Jointer?
- Cutter head: As its name implies, this component serves for cutting. The cutter head is typically driven by an AC electric motor. However, it can be run by line shaft belts in older versions of jointers.
- Blades: Aside from flattening the surface, the blades can also straighten out the wood as per your preference.
- Infeed table: Basically, this is a flat platform where the lumber is placed before cutting.
- Outfeed table: The purpose of this platform is to catch or support the wood moving along the blade.
- The On/Off switch: It is usually located sideward. Simply use it to turn the machine on or off.
- Fence: It acts as a moveable guard that guides pieces of wood right on the benchtop jointer. The fence is usually set at an angle of 90° to the table. Yet some jointers let you adjust the fence to different angles.
How to Use a Benchtop Jointer
Below are a few tips on how to use a benchtop jointer. Check them out.
- Master the machine: Once you get the hang of how the jointer works, you will be ready to use it. Thankfully, most benchtop jointers come with very convenient features, which facilitates the jointing task. Make sure that you understand how to set the depth of cuts, change blades when needed, tension the belt, and adjust the fence.
- Square up the jointer fence: Set the jointer fence to a perfectly square position using a machinist square or digital angle gauge.
- Ensure parallel tables: It is important that your jointer is nicely tuned to get the most out of it. That said, make sure the tables are coplanar as much as possible.
- Be aware of the stock limitations: The capacity boundaries of the jointer are strictly limited by the length and width of the beds. It is a good idea to set the lower limit size according to the pieces you will be running through your jointer. The stock length should be limited to no double the length of your infeed table.
- The depth of the cut: Be sure to set it so that it ensures perceptible progress without straining the motor.
Safety Tips When Using a Benchtop Jointer
While using a benchtop jointer isn’t dangerous, you should always strive to reduce the risk of workshop accidents. Here are several maintenance and safety tips:
- Wear safety gear: Wear ear and eye protection (goggles) all the time.
- Don’t wear long sleeves and loose clothing: The last thing you want is to be caught by the machine. Also, avoid wearing jewelry.
- Keep the guard adjusted properly in place.
- Keep your hands away from the rear of the board while it moves over the cutter.
- Keep your joiner secure by bolting it to a wall.
- Avoid standing immediately behind the jointer.
Factors You Must Consider Before Buying a Benchtop Jointer
Have you taken the time to browse the leading online retailers and see the vast array of benchtop jointers available today? If not, you will soon realize that there are several types of jointers available.
While all of them are meant to carry out similar tasks, the various types have slight design differences. Such differences make each of the jointer types more suited for a particular application than another type would be.
That said, you need to buy a jointer that is better suited for the intended application. As such, although most woodworkers prefer a benchtop jointer, you still need to familiarize yourself with the various types of jointers and what they are meant to do.
While shopping for the best unit, here are the five main types you should consider:
Closed Stand Jointers
As the name suggests, these jointers feature a closed base. The closed stand is meant to keep the motors safe and prevent debris and dust from getting into the cutter head of the equipment. Closed stand jointers are known to be some of the sturdiest jointers today.
The closed design not only makes these units more robust; it reduces vibration and noise. This, in turn, makes these jointers more stable, precise, and safe.
The various closed stand jointer models feature a width capacity of between 6 inches and 16 inches.
Benchtop jointers are considered the most popular and are also the focus of this article. The best way to describe them is as a downsized version of the close stand jointer discussed above.
They work with smaller pieces of wood compared to close stand, and can only handle midrange to small projects. Actually, they cannot cut anything more than six inches wide. As a result, if you work on large projects or deal with large boards, the benchtop jointer is not stable enough for you.
For other benchtop tools for a woodworker, here’s our best bench vises review.
Open Stand Jointers
Open stand jointers derive their name from the fact that they have an exposed motor. They are usually incredibly portable. As a result, if you are always shuffling between your job site and home workshop, then the open stand is ideal.
Also, these jointers are reasonably priced. The only downside is that they are less stable and they produce a fair amount of noise.
Tabletop jointers lack an adjustable outfeed table. In terms of design, they are a beefier version of the benchtop jointer.
Tabletop jointers are not portable, and due to the increased power and performance, they tend to be rather costly.
Long Bed Jointers
As compared to conventional benchtop jointers, long-bed jointers have a relatively longer bed. These come in an array of lumbar width capacities, ranging between 6 and 12 inches.
Size of the Jointer
This is actually one of the most important things that you need to consider while shopping for a good jointer. In this regard, you need to consider the average size of the materials you will be using the jointer on.
This will help you ascertain the right width and length for your jointer. Basically, the size of these products is an expression of the length of knives they have.
This measurement is equal to the widest piece of board the jointer can handle. As a rule of thumb, most of the leading jointer models today can work on wood that is twice the size of their beds.
As such, you need to consider the size as well as the length of the bed on any jointer to know the size of the material it can accommodate. That said, these are some of the common jointer size options you may need to consider:
- 16 Inch – If you own a large workshop, you may need to buy a real powerhouse. The 16-inch jointers are large industrial units, equipped with some of the largest jointer knives today. As such, these units will offer you a broader scope of work.
- 8-Inch – these have smaller knives than the 18-inch jointer and shorter beds. They are cheaper than the 16-inch jointers and can work on sizeable pieces of lumber.
- 6-Inch – these are the smallest benchtop jointers available today. They are ideal for a home woodworker. As such, they are small I size, comparatively affordable, and easy to use.
Currently, there is a vast array of fence designs for benchtop jointers. While looking for the right jointer, you should emphasize on the smooth operation of the fence. Most of the leading brands allow for the fences in their units to be angled between 45 and 135 degrees.
Your preferred jointer choice should have positive stops for angling the fence. Most of the leading models offer positive stops at angles of 45 and 90 degrees. Additionally, it is advisable to buy a unit that is equipped with a rigid, flat and relatively durable fence.
Buying a jointer with a poor fence will affect its usability; hence give you a poor woodworking experience.
While using your jointer to straighten boards, you will realize that certain jointer models require fewer passes than others. This is mainly determined by the cutting depth of the jointer.
While choosing the right jointer cutting depth, you should consider the type of woodworking projects you will be carrying out as well as the efficiency and speed you need. In this regard, a cutting depth of ½-inch to ¾-inch should suffice.
Ready To Buy The Best Benchtop Jointers?
Just as is the case with any other woodworking tool, choosing the best benchtop jointer is not easy. In addition to choosing a power jointer of the right power, you also need to consider the other aspects discussed in this wood jointer guide.
Rather than buying a subpar model, consider buying a benchtop jointer that won’t break down or fail you.